Joshua Rovey to Receive 2016 Lawrence Sperry Award
Honored for His Impact on the Field of Plasmadynamics and Space Propulsion
October 6, 2015 – Reston, Va. – Joshua Rovey, an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Associate Fellow, and Associate Professor of aerospace engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), Rolla, Missouri, has won the 2016 Lawrence Sperry Award.
Rovey will receive the award on Tuesday, January 5, at a recognition luncheon held in conjunction with the AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition 2016 (
AIAA SciTech 2016), January 4–8, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego, California.
Rovey is being honored for his “exceptional contributions to research in the area of plasmadynamics and space propulsion, and to the AIAA Missouri S&T Student Branch.”
“AIAA congratulates Joshua Rovey for being named the winner of the 2016 Lawrence Sperry Award. Rovey’s work with plasmadynamics and plasma-based propulsion has advanced the state of the art in our community, allowing for better understanding of the way plasma functions and how it can be harnessed for the propulsion needs of multiple spacecraft. His work with the AIAA Student Branch at Missouri S&T has done much to prepare a new generation of leaders for our community. We cannot wait to see how Rovey’s work will continue to shape the future of aerospace, and how the students he is preparing for entry into our community will carry on his legacy.”
While at Missouri S&T, Rovey has established the Aerospace Plasma Laboratory, which focuses on fundamental work in plasmadynamics as well as in development work on space propulsion systems. Rovey’s work has been instrumental in determining why plasma will not form in magnetic fields above zero – answering questions about the formation of plasma that have puzzled investigators since the 1960s. Rovey’s work on plasma formation has prompted both the Air Force Research Laboratory and NASA to begin to explore alternate methods of plasma formation. Rovey has also formulated the idea of plasmonic space propulsion, a technology that promises to transform propulsion systems for small spacecraft, including nano, pico and cube-satellites. The system would eliminate the need for these craft to have onboard power systems, reducing their mass, and increasing their speed. Lastly, Rovey has revitalized the AIAA Student Branch at Missouri S&T, increasing the branch’s size to 50 students, and increasing the number of programs and lectures available to the members.
The AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award is presented to honor a notable contribution made by a young person, age 35 or under, to the advancement of aeronautics or astronautics. The award honors Lawrence B. Sperry, a pioneer aviator and inventor, who died in 1923 in a forced landing while attempting a flight across the English Channel.
For more information on the AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award or the AIAA Honors and Awards Program, please contact Carol Stewart at 703.264.7538, or at