Robert H. Goddard Honor Award ceremonies on opposite sides of the globe

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center conducted its semiannual Robert H. Goddard Honor Awards ceremony at the center’s Greenbelt campus on Tuesday, March 22. Among those honored was the Mid-Latitude Southern Hemisphere Long-Duration Balloon (LDB) Team for their work in establishing Wanaka, New Zealand, as a site for NASA’s Scientific Balloon missions in 2015. Representatives from NASA’s Balloon Program Office and Orbital ATK were on hand to receive the award.

A few more honorees were unable to attend the ceremony, and for good reason: they were on the other side of the globe in Wanaka, New Zealand. Applying a little bit of creativity and innovation, NASA’s Balloon Team conducted an impromptu Goddard Awards Ceremony to recognize the Kiwi members of the LDB team during a reception hosted by the Wanaka Airport staff.

Goddard Honor Awards in New Zealand
Debbie Fairbrother, NASA’s Balloon Program chief, presents Sir Timothy Wallis and Ralph Fegan, Wanaka Airport Manager, with Robert H. Goddard Honor Award certificates. Sir Timothy, a longtime businessman and aviation entrepreneur, accepted the award on behalf of his son, Jonathan. (NASA/Bill Rodman)

Those in New Zealand receiving honors were:

  • Ralph Fegan, Wanaka Airport Manager
  • Michele Poole, Queenstown Lakes District Council
  • Jen Andrews, Queenstown Airport Corporation
  • Chris Johnson, Queenstown Airport Corporation
  • Bill Wrigley, Queenstown Airport Corporation
  • Chris Read, Queenstown Airport Corporation
  • Mike Clay, Queenstown Airport Corporation
  • Terry Dower, Queenstown Airport Corporation
  • Doug McKay, Queenstown Airport Corporation
  • Dave Park, Astral Aviation Consultants
  • Andy Boyd, Airways New Zealand
  • Scott Scrimgeour, Airways New Zealand
  • Jonathan Wallis, The Alpine Group Ltd

“Our program is worldwide, and as such, it takes a worldwide effort to be successful,” said Debbie Fairbrother, NASA’s Balloon Program Office chief. “The Wanaka Community has provided tremendous support to the balloon program, and it’s only fitting that they share in our success as well.”

Super Pressure Balloon presentation
Debbie Fairbrother, Balloon Program Office chief, gives an overview of NASA’s super pressure balloon operations in Wanaka during a reception at the Wanaka Airport. (NASA/Bill Rodman)

Continuing on a theme of community, over the next several days the Balloon Program Office will support the biennial Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow with an exhibit and guest speaker presentations throughout the event.

COSI presentation
Dr. Steve Boggs, Professor and Head of the Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, provides an overview of the Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI), which will fly on the super pressure balloon test flight launching from Wanaka in April. (NASA/Bill Rodman)