A voyage to the far reaches of the solar system that has captured images of distant dwarf planet Ceres in stunning detail has also now captured the 2015 Robert J. Collier Trophy. NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory share the credit for putting the Dawn spacecraft in position to expand our understanding of the universe around us.
The prestigious award, given annually for 104 years “for the greatest achievement in aeronautics and astronautics in America” by the National Aeronautic Association, was announced March 9. The 32-member selection committee included AOPA President Mark Baker and a host of other experts drawn from various organizations, and they had a particularly tough job this year.
“The Committee reviewed very strong nominations from throughout the aviation and space industry—commercial, military, general aviation, space, and even ballooning,” said NAA Chairman Jim Albaugh, in a news release. “Any one of them would have been a worthy Collier Trophy Recipient, and I want to congratulate our colleagues at NASA and JPL on their great accomplishment with the Dawn Program.”
The committee more specifically chose Dawn “in recognition of the extraordinary achievements of orbiting and exploring protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, and advancing the nation’s technological capabilities in pioneering new frontiers in space travel.”
There were two general aviation nominees in this year’s field: Icon Aircraft, for the amphibious A5, and Honda, for the new HondaJet. NAA President and CEO Jonathan Gaffney managed the selection process.
“This was one of the strongest lists of Collier nominations NAA has seen in the past decade, and all who participated in the process can be very proud of their work,” Gaffney said in a news release.
The trophy is formally presented each year at the Robert J. Collier Trophy Dinner, scheduled for June 9 at a location to be determined. The NAA website will have updates on the location when available.