AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala to Confer Top Honors Written 6 February 2019

CONTACT: John Blacksten

Black-Tie Event Honors Aerospace’s Best and Brightest

February 6, 2019 – Reston, Va. –The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has announced the 2019 recipients of its most prestigious awards. Presentation of these premier awards and recognition of the Institute’s newly elected Fellows and Honorary Fellows will take place on 15 May at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. 

The AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala is an annual black-tie event recognizing the most influential and inspiring individuals in aerospace, whose outstanding contributions merit the highest accolades.

The winners are: 

  • AIAA Goddard Astronautics Award – John L. Junkins, Texas A&M University
  • AIAA Reed Aeronautics Award – Philippe R. Spalart, The Boeing Company
  • AIAA Distinguished Service Award – Klaus D. Dannenberg, AIAA (retired)
  • AIAA Public Service Award – Pamela A. Melroy, Melroy & Hollett Technology Partners and Nova Systems
  • AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award – Katya M. Casper, Sandia National Laboratories

“Through their dedication and hard work, these winners have expanded the boundaries of aerospace,” said AIAA President John Langford. “They lift the entire industry simply by doing their best. It is with great admiration that we congratulate them on a job well done.”

Award citations:

AIAA Goddard Astronautics Award 
The highest honor AIAA bestows for notable achievement in the field of astronautics. It was endowed by Mrs. Goddard in the 1940s as the ARS Goddard Memorial Award to commemorate her husband, Robert H. Goddard—rocket visionary, pioneer, bold experimentalist, and superb engineer whose early liquid rocket engine launches set the stage for the development of astronautics.

John L. Junkins, Distinguished Professor of Aerospace Engineering and holder of the Royce E. Wisenbaker Chair in Innovation at Texas A&M University, won “for advances in aerospace research and education, for creating an institute for promoting scientific excellence, and for enabling contributions in spacecraft navigation, dynamics, and control.”

AIAA Reed Aeronautics Award 
The highest honor AIAA bestows for notable achievement in the field of aeronautics. The award is named after Dr. Sylvanus A. Reed, the aeronautical engineer, designer, and founding member of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences in 1932. Reed was the first to develop a propeller system composed of metal rather than wood. His aluminum alloy propeller gave Jimmy Doolittle's plane the speed it needed to win the 1925 Schneider Cup race and brought the inventor much credit and many rewards.

Philippe R. Spalart, Senior Technical Fellow at The Boeing Company, won “for contributions in the simulation of complex turbulent flows enabling the prediction and optimization of aerodynamic characteristics of aerospace vehicles.”

AIAA Distinguished Service Award 
AIAA recognizes an individual member who has provided distinguished service to the Institute over a period of years.

Klaus D. Dannenberg, Deputy Executive Director, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (retired), won “for five decades of significant contributions to AIAA that created greatly enhanced value and more meaningful opportunities for the Institute's traditional and evolving constituencies.”

AIAA Public Service Award 
The highest recognition AIAA bestows to a person outside the aerospace community who has shown consistent and visible support for national aviation and space goals.

Pamela A. Melroy, CEO, Melroy & Hollett Technology Partners, and Director of Space Technology and Policy, Nova Systems, won “for excellence in public service to the aerospace community in the United States and world through military and civilian service, spaceflight, engineering, and research excellence.”

AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award 
The Lawrence Sperry Award is presented for a notable contribution made by a young person, age 35 or under, to the advancement of aeronautics or astronautics. This award honors Lawrence B. Sperry, pioneer aviator and inventor, who died in 1923 in a forced landing while attempting a flight across the English Channel.

Katya M. Casper, Principal Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, won “for highly significant contributions to the fundamental understanding of boundary layer transition and fluid-structure interactions in hypersonic flows through novel diagnostics with national program impact.”

Please visit for more information about the award recipients.

About AIAA 
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical societyWith nearly 30,000 individual members from 85 countries, and 95 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.


American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 
12700 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 200, Reston, VA 20191-5807 
Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551