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April 1, 2016

APL Lauded for Space Science, Engineering Achievements

Stamatios (Tom) Krimigis
Teck Choo
Glen Fountain

From top: At the American Astronautical Society’s 54th Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium on March 9, AAS President Lyn Wigbels presents awards to APL’s Stamatios (Tom) Krimigis (Space Flight Award), Teck Choo (Space Entrepreneurship Award) and Glen Fountain (Neil Armstrong Space Flight Achievement, for the New Horizons mission team). Credit: NASA/GSFC/Bill Hrybyk

Several APL scientists and engineers were honored over the past month for their pioneering work to expand the frontiers of knowledge in space.

The team behind NASA’s New Horizons mission — which last summer delivered the first close-up views of distant Pluto while capping the initial reconnaissance of our planetary system — earned three significant industry and professional society awards for its historic accomplishments. On March 4, the team — jointly based at APL and Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado — was honored by Aviation Week and Space Technology with the magazine’s 2016 Laureate Award for space exploration. On March 9, the American Astronomical Society presented the team with its Neil Armstrong Space Flight Achievement Award, and on March 11, the team received the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy from the National Space Club.

APL designed, built and operates the New Horizons spacecraft and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “These awards are a tribute to the incredible, tireless scientific and engineering work of the entire New Horizons team — from all around the United States — over the past 15 years, culminating in the Pluto flyby last July that captured the imagination of the world,” said the Space Exploration Sector’s Glen Fountain, who served as New Horizons project manager from launch preparations through the Pluto encounter.

Two other APL staff members earned AAS honors on March 9. Stamatios (Tom) Krimigis was presented with the society’s Space Flight Award, its highest award, recognizing his fundamental research on space and planetary environments throughout the solar system while concurrently opening a new paradigm of aerospace mission management. Krimigis, SES head emeritus, is the only scientist to lead investigations to all nine classical planets and played a key role in shaping NASA’s Discovery class of low-cost, focused space-science missions.

Teck Choo earned the 2015 Space Entrepreneurship Award for his groundbreaking advancements in automated mission planning, commanding and analysis that enhanced speed, quality and quantity of space mission data return far beyond any similar capability across NASA and the Department of Defense. Choo is the main designer of the SciBox application, an end-to-end automated operational planning and spacecraft commanding system.

Media contact: Michael Buckley, 240-228-7536,

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit

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