Space Foundation News

Armstrong, Ride Honored at Hill Award Luncheon

Written by: developer

NASA astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Sally K. Ride, Ph.D., both of whom died in 2012, were honored April 10 at the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award luncheon, co-sponsored by The Boeing Company. This is the first time the award has been presented posthumously.

The General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Space Foundation. It is presented annually in honor of our late, long-time chairman, retired U.S. Air Force General James E. Hill. The award recognizes outstanding individuals who have distinguished themselves through lifetime contributions to the welfare or betterment of humankind through the exploration, development and use of space, or the use of space technology, information, themes or resources in academic, cultural, indurial or other pursuits of broad benefit to humanity. Nominations are solicited throughout the space industry worldwide, with the Space Foundation's Board of Directors selecting the honoree.

The inspiring and touching ceremony included:

  • Opening remarks by Space Foundation Board Chairman Marty Faga
  • Remarks by corporate host Roger Krone, president, Network and Space Systems, The Boeing Company
  • The I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing) music video featuring Astronaut Chris Hadfield from the International Space Station, the band Barenaked Ladies and the youth choir Gleek, presented by The Boeing Company
  • An inspirational video chronicling Armstrong's and Ride's careers

Pictured, above left, Rick Armstrong, Wendy Armstrong, Mark Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Dr. Bear Ride, Rev. Susan Clark and Marty Faga.

About Armstrong

The first person to walk on the Moon, Armstrong famously described his first lunar step on July 20, 1969, as "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." He was the first U.S. civilian to fly in space, commander of the first docking in space and first mission abort from Earth orbit and commander of the first manned lunar landing.

Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was an officer in the U.S. Navy and served in the Korean War. In 1958, he was selected for the U.S. Air Force's Man In Space Soonest program, and in 1962 was asked to join the NASA Astronaut Corps as one of the The New Nine, the second group of astronauts selected by NASA.

He was also an aerospace engineer, naval aviator, test pilot and later became deputy associate administrator for aeronautics at NASA. He left NASA to return to his home state of Ohio, buy a farm and become professor of aeronautical engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

Armstrong said in a 2005 TV interview, "I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks, but for the ledger of our daily work." He died in 2012 at the age of 82.

Armstrong's son, Mark and Rick, accepted the award for their father. Mark Armstrong called for a rededication to space exploration and Rick expressed gratitude in the way that he said he would have expected his father to.

Pictured, above right, Rick and Mark Armstrong with the custom-designed Hill Award.

About Ride

As the first American woman to fly in space and as President and CEO of Sally Ride Science, Ride was a special inspiration to girls and young women around the world.

She joined NASA in 1978 and, in 1983, became the first American woman in space as a crew member on Space Shuttle Challenger for STS-7. At 32 years old, she was also the youngest American space traveler at the time.

Ride had a number of "firsts" and "onlies" in her career. On STS-7, she was the first woman to use the robot arm in space and the first to use the arm to retrieve a satellite. She was the only person to have served on the commissions investigating both the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia accidents.

Ride was author of five science books for children and initiated projects designed to inspire middle school students' fascination with science. She died in 2012 at the age of 61. See more about her work at

Dr. Bear Ride accepted the award of behalf of her sister, speaking of Ride's excitement about science and learning.

Pictured, above left, Marty Faga and Dr. Bear Ride with the custom-designed Hill Award.

See the Video

To see a video of the luncheon, click here. To see a tribute video, click here. To see a photo gallery, click here.