JPL has been awarded the Jack Swigert Award for Space Exploration by the Space Foundation. The award is in memory of Apollo 13 astronaut Swigert and will be presented April 3 in Colorado Springs, Colorado during the Opening Ceremony of the 22nd National Space Symposium.
"What we look for is an organization individual that has done the most significant activity in exploration of the solar system," said Elliot Pulham, president and CEO of The Space Foundation.
The foundation did not choose one particular mission but decided to honor JPL for all of their missions this year.
"From Deep Impact to Mars Exploration and Stardust, any one of those mission would be amazing," Pulham said. "But the portfolio is absolutely breathtaking."
"That is what I am delighted about; the fact that they were having a hard time picking one mission and decided to give it to the collective work that we do at this institution,"said Charles Elachi, director of JPL, in a telephone interview Wednesday.
The Space Foundation was founded in 1983, in part to honor the memory and accomplishments of Swigert. The award in his name was established in 2004 in tribute to his enduring legacy of space exploration. The NASA Mars Exploration Team from JPL was the first recipient of the award, President George W. Bush was 2005's recipient.
Many people participate in the JPL mission but don't get recognized, Elachi said. "By receiving this award for our entire JPL community, all are honored."
Elachi said he is still amazed with every mission and every accomplishment.
"Every month we do a bold adventure," Elachi said. "This is the golden age of space exploration."