The 2005 Wernher von Braun Memorial Award was presented to Burt Rutan in a ceremony with Konrad Dannenberg, one of the original rocket scientists that worked with Wernher von Braun to land American astronauts on the Moon. Driven by the same dream that inspired Von Braun’s team — a permanent human presence in space — Rutan captured the $10 million Ansari X Prize last October by designing, building and launching the world’s first private, reusable passenger spacecraft, SpaceShipOne. Rutan’s company, Scaled Composites, is now designing a fleet of personal spacecraft for Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic.
“Burt Rutan’s historic achievement picks up where Wernher von Braun and our team left off,” said Dannenberg, one of the leading propulsion experts on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. “But instead of a space race with the Soviets, space tourism and entrepreneurs are driving this new space program. By giving people hope again for a long-term future in space, Burt Rutan is the natural choice for this award.”
The Space Pioneer Awards for 2005 went to:
- Business/Entrepreneur: Paul Allen, founder of Microsoft, for his contributions to expanding the opportunities for ordinary citizens to live and work in space through funding the SpaceShipOne project, and related activities.
- Scientist/Engineer: Dr. Boris Smeds, European Space Agency, for his pioneering work in support of the Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan.
- Scientist/Engineering Team: Mars Exploration Rover Mission Team, for their continued successful operation of the Mars mobile rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Tthe award was accepted by Dr. Steven Squyres, Cornell University, Principal Investigator for the science payload.
The 2005 Chris Pancratz Space Activist of the Year Award was presented to Ronnie Lajoie.
The 2005 NSS Excellence Awards for distinguished service to the Society were presented to: