2021 Durand Lectureship for Public Service Awarded to David W. Thompson Written 7 January 2021


Lecture will be Delivered During 2021 AIAA SciTech Forum

David W. Thompson,  AIAA Honorary Fellow

January 7, 2021 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is pleased to announce the 2021 AIAA Durand Lectureship for Public Service is awarded to David W. Thompson,  President and Chief Executive Officer (retired) of Orbital ATK, Inc. Thompson will deliver his lecture, “The History and Prospects of Commercial Space Activity,” on Tuesday, 12 January, at 1200 hrs ET, during the 2021 AIAA SciTech Forum, to be held virtually 11–15 and 19–21 January. Register here.

“The hallmark of the AIAA SciTech Forum is the sharing of ideas, successes and failures that drive the aerospace industry to improve life on Earth,” said Daniel Dumbacher, AIAA executive director. “AIAA members are known for their collaborative spirit as we work together to push the boundaries to make the next technological leap. This lecture is sure to inspire students and professionals to find fresh directions and ideas for their work.”

The Durand Lectureship for Public Service, named in honor of William F. Durand, Ph.D., is presented for notable achievements by a scientific or technical leader whose contributions have led directly to the understanding and application of the science and technology of aeronautics and astronautics for the betterment of mankind.

Durand was a United States naval officer and a pioneer in mechanical engineering. During his remarkable 99-year life, Durand contributed significantly to the development of aircraft propellers. He was the first civilian chair of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics or NACA, the forerunner of NASA.

The Institute’s Public Policy Committee takes pride in selecting accomplished leaders in aeronautics and astronautics for this honor who can share their knowledge through the Durand Lecture for Public Service.

This year’s recipient, David W. Thompson, is the former President and CEO of Orbital ATK, Inc. and a cofounder of one of its predecessors, Orbital Sciences Corporation. He led the company for 36 years, from its establishment in 1982 until its acquisition by Northrop Grumman in 2018. During that time, the company developed and produced more than 1,000 rockets and spacecraft and grew to be a Fortune 500-class enterprise. 

Thompson is an Honorary Fellow of AIAA and served as its president for the 2009–2010 term. He holds degrees in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology and in business from Harvard University.

For more information about the AIAA Honors and Awards program, contact Patricia A. Carr at patriciac@aiaa.org.

Media contact: Rebecca B. Gray, RebeccaG@aiaa.org, 804.397.5270.

About AIAA
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit www.aiaa.org, or follow AIAA on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.