Space Foundation Press Releases

The Phoenix Mars Lander Team Wins 2009 Jack Swigert Award for Space Exploration

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 19, 2009) — In recognition of the technical developments that led to one of the most startling and meaningful discoveries of the new millennium, NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander Team has been selected as the winner of the Space Foundation’s 2009 John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration. The award, which honors the memory and enduring legacy of Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert, will be presented during the Opening Ceremony of the Foundation’s 25th National Space Symposium March 30 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The 25th National Space Symposium brings together all sectors of space – civil, commercial, national security, new space entrepreneurship, and finance – to highlight accomplishments and address opportunities and issues facing the global space community today. With its theme, The Next Space Age, this year’s program focuses on major shifts in the economies, philosophies, and mechanics of the global space industry.

The Space Foundation chose the team, a collaboration among the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at The University of Arizona, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin Space Systems and a number of international entities, for design, development, launch, landing, and operation of the Phoenix Mars Lander in its quest for and discovery of water on the Red Planet.

“The Phoenix Mars Lander’s confirmation of water on the Red Planet is perhaps of one of the most important discoveries of our time,” said Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham. “The exploratory spirit of Jack Swigert is evident in the winning team’s ceaseless and well-choreographed pursuit of this noble goal.”

The Phoenix Mars Lander is only the sixth successful landing of a spacecraft on Mars. By confirming the presence of water ice on Mars and characterizing the soil composition of the Red Planet, the highly successful mission significantly advanced the body of knowledge about Mars while validating NASA’s “follow the water” strategy for extraterrestrial exploration.

“In addition to acknowledging the outcome of the Phoenix Mars Lander mission, the award also recognizes the management of the program,” said Pulham. “This is the first NASA mission to employ a management structure with a single lead scientist from an academic institution.”

Principal Investigator Peter H. Smith of The University of Arizona is supported by a science team of co-investigators. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory provided project management, mission management, and technical collaboration with the science and spacecraft teams. Lockheed Martin Space Systems’ responsibilities included spacecraft development, assembly, test, launch vehicle integration and flight system mission operations support. International contributions are provided by the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus Denmark; the Max Planck Institute, Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

A Colorado native, Swigert served with Capt. James Lovell, USN (Retired), and Fred Haise, Jr., on the legendary Apollo 13 lunar mission. People around the world watched as NASA overcame tremendous odds to return the crew safely to Earth. Before joining the Apollo program, Swigert was a combat pilot for the U.S. Air Force in Japan and Korea and an engineering test pilot for North American Aviation, Inc. and Pratt and Whitney. In 1982, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, but died of cancer before taking the oath of office.

The Space Foundation, founded in 1983 in part to honor Swigert’s memory, created the Jack Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration in 2004 in tribute to his lasting legacy of space exploration. Previous recipients include the NASA Mars Exploration Team; President George W. Bush; the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; the astronomical observatories, scientists, researchers, and students of the California Institute of Technology; and the Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA).

The 25th National Space Symposium offers workshops, forums, panels and presentations covering all aspects of space, a number of special dinners and luncheons and presentation of several prestigious space-related awards, including the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award, the Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award, the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award, the Space Achievement Award, and the John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration. The Symposium concludes with the Space Technology Hall of Fame Dinner – now in its 22nd year.

The Symposium also includes extensive programs for selected teachers and students, a space technology career fair, and the Boeing Exhibit Centers representing more than 140 organizations and companies. More than 7,500 registrants, guests, speakers, exhibitors, and media representatives from around the world are expected to attend.

Co-sponsors of the symposium include The Aerospace Corporation, Aerojet, a.i. solutions, Analytical Graphics, Inc, ATK, ARES Corporation, ASRC Federal, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boeing, Cisco Systems, Inc., Cobham, General Dynamics, Honeywell, Hitachi Consulting, IBM, Infinite Links, Intelsat General Corporation, International Space University, ITT, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, The Mitre Corporation, Northrop Grumman, Pikes Peak Workforce Center, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Raytheon, Regis University, SAIC, SEAKR Engineering, Inc., SERCO, Stellar Solutions, United Launch Alliance, United Space Alliance, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and Webster University. Media partners are Aviation Week, Space News, and Via Satellite.

Online registration and more information, including an updated program agenda, confirmed speaker list, and exhibitor list, are available at

About the Space Foundation
Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is an international nonprofit organization advancing space-related endeavors to inspire, enable, and propel humanity. A leader in space awareness activities, major industry events, and educational enterprises that bring space into the classroom, the Space Foundation is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo. It conducts research and analysis and government affairs activities from its Washington, D.C., office and has field representatives in Houston, Texas, and Cape Canaveral, Fla. In addition to the 25th National Space Symposium, the Space Foundation, along with partnering organizations, will also conduct Space Business Forum: New York on June 4, 2009, in New York, N.Y., and Strategic Space and Defense 2009 from Oct. 6 – 8, 2009, in Omaha, Neb. For more information, visit