Past Award Winners Include an X-15 Pilot, Astronauts, Test Pilots, and Other Aerospace Luminaries

On August 15, 2023, National Space Society Chief Executive Officer Anita Gale was honored with the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics Distinguished Alumni Award by her alma mater, the University of Washington. The dinner honoring Ms. Gale was held in Seattle, Washington.

Past awardees of the University’s William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics include X-15 pilot Scott Crossfield; Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg; George Jeffs, who led Space Shuttle development for Rockwell International; Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann, Boeing’s first female test pilot; and NASA astronauts Gregory Johnson and John Fabian. With this award, Ms. Gale will join the ranks of these distinguished leaders in aviation and spaceflight.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Anita these many years,” said Dale Skran, COO and Senior Vice President of the National Space Society. “She has made astounding contributions to NSS while leading the Space Settlement Design Competitions, and it’s great to see her work being recognized.”

Prior to her retirement, Gale was a Senior Project Engineer in Space Shuttle Payload and Cargo Integration for the Boeing Company in Houston. Starting in 1974, she worked on the space shuttle program for Rockwell International in Downey, California, and later provided conceptual designs for cargo integration on future launch vehicles and contributed to R&D for shuttle upgrades and future missions of both reusable and expendable launch vehicles. She holds three U.S. patents on launch vehicle payload interface standardization and containerization.

In 1984, Gale co-founded the Space Settlement Design Competitions, industry simulation games that engage high school students in designing future space settlements. The competitions have evolved into an international activity involving thousands of students annually on six continents.

Hoyt Davidson, Executive Vice President of NSS, said, “For an organization that lives with its heads in the stars, it is great to have an accomplished, senior aerospace engineer like Anita who can keep us in the land of feasibility but also inspire and train the next generation for success in space.”

Gale is an active member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She is also a member of the AIAA Space Colonization Technical Committee, regularly chairs technical conference sessions on space settlements, and has written technical papers about space settlement requirements, designs, and the triggering events that will contribute to the goal of constructing space settlements in the future.

Gale earned both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Washington, and a Certificate in Systems Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona. Her work as NSS CEO has been transformative, driving NSS forward with an eye toward STEM programs and women’s engagement.

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