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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics



    AIAA Mourns the Death of Honorary Fellow Yvonne C. Brill
    Inventor of Hydrazine Resistojet Propulsion System Received 2011 National Medal of Technology and Innovation

    March 28, 2013 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) mourns the death of AIAA Honorary Fellow Yvonne C. Brill, the developer of the hydrazine resistojet propulsion system for satellite systems, and a 2011 recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama. She was 88 years old.

    “We mourn the passing of Yvonne C. Brill, whose hydrazine resistojet propulsion system has become the industry standard for satellite propulsion,” said AIAA President Mike Griffin. “She truly represented the best of what American aerospace engineering and system development should be – a pioneering spirit coupled to a clear vision of what the future of an entire area of systems should be, with the ingenuity and genius necessary to make that vision a reality. While we are saddened by her loss, we salute her for her innovative system development, and for being a trailblazer at a time when women were not encouraged to enter the science and technology fields.”

    Brill, formerly of RCA Astro Electronics, Princeton, N.J., developed the hydrazine resistojet propulsion system, also known as the electrothermal hydrazine thruster (EHT). Brill’s invention improved thruster efficiency on orbiting satellites by thirty percent, significantly decreasing the amount of propellant needed to maintain geosynchronous orbit. Brill’s invention became the industry standard for satellite propulsion, significantly reducing costs across the satellite industry. Brill received the 2011 National Medal of Technology and Innovation for her “innovation in rocket propulsion systems for geosynchronous and low earth orbit communication satellites, which greatly improved the effectiveness of space propulsion systems.”

    In addition to the National Medal of Technology, Brill’s many honors included the 2002 AIAA Wylde Propulsion Award, the 1993 Society of Women Engineers Resnik Challenger Medal, and the 2009 John Fritz Medal from Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. Brill was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the International Academy of Astronautics, a Fellow of the Society of Women Engineers, and a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. She was also a member of the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council, and at the time of her death had been planning to attend their spring meeting in Washington, DC.


    AIAA is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession. With more than 35,000 individual members worldwide, and100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit



    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Suite 500, Reston, VA 20191-4344
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