Space Foundation Press Releases

Space Foundation Board Selects Former NASA Astronaut Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford to Receive the 2019 General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 14, 2018) – Every Spring at the annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, the Space Foundation confers its highest honor – the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award. For 2019, the Space Foundation Board of Directors have selected former NASA astronaut Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford, USAF (Ret.).

Honoring the Space Foundation’s late, long-time chairman, the award recognizes outstanding individuals who have distinguished themselves through lifetime contributions to humankind through exploration, development and use of space.

In announcing the selection of Stafford, Space Foundation Board Chairman Gen. William L. Shelton, USAF (Ret.), said, “Lt. Gen. Stafford’s contributions to the Air Force, as well as his pioneering career at NASA, make him the ideal recipient of the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award. Among his many accomplishments, he was commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base; flew 127 types of aircraft, four types of spacecraft, spent more than 507 hours in space; and countless hours mentoring, advising and counseling presidents, officers, aviators and leaders around the world on the frontiers of flight and space exploration. His work laid the groundwork for what is being accomplished in air and space today. It is an honor to recognize his many achievements with this award.”

The award luncheon is co-sponsored by Leidos, and will be held on Tuesday, April 9, at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, site of the 35th Annual Space Symposium. See the list of previous Hill Award recipients at

About Lt. Gen. Stafford
Stafford is a native of Weatherford, Okla., which is home to the Stafford Air & Space Museum. He graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1952 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

In 1953, he received his pilot wings at James Connally Air Force Base, and after completing advanced interceptor training, was assigned to the 54th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base. He was transferred to the 496th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Hahn Air Base, Germany, where he was a pilot, flight leader and flight test maintenance officer, flying the F-86D. In 1959, he graduated from the Air Force Experimental Flight Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, and received the A.B. Honts Award as the outstanding graduate.

In 1962, Stafford was selected by NASA for projects Gemini and Apollo. In 1965, Stafford piloted Gemini VI and achieved the first rendezvous with another spacecraft after helping to develop the techniques to do so.

In 1969, he commanded Apollo 10 and made the first lunar lander flight to the Moon. The Guinness Book of World Records created a new entry for him for the highest speed ever achieved by humankind when Apollo I0 reached a speed of 24,971 statute miles per hour during reentry.

Following his Apollo 10 mission, General Stafford commanded the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission, culminating in the first in-space meeting of American Astronauts and Soviet Cosmonauts in July 1975, beginning a new era of international cooperation.

His many awards and honors have included: the Presidential Medal of Freedom; NASA Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; NASA Exceptional Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Chanute Flight Award (1976); the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Space Award; National Geographic Society’s General Thomas D. White USAF Space Trophy (1975); the Federal Aeronautique Internationale Gold Space Medal; and he twice received received the Harmon International Aviation Trophy.

About the Space Symposium
The 35th Space Symposium is slated for April 8-11, 2019, bringing together thousands of space professionals from the world’s leading spacefaring countries to discuss and plan the future of space. See the agenda and registration information at

About the Space Foundation
Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is a 501(c)(3) and the world’s premier organization to inspire, educate, connect, and advocate on behalf of the global space community. It is a nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs, and major industry events, including the annual Space Symposium. Space Foundation headquarters is in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA, and has a public Discovery Center, including El Pomar Space Gallery, Northrop Grumman Science Center featuring Science On a Sphere® and the Lockheed Martin Space Education Center. The Space Foundation has a Washington, D.C., office and field representatives in Houston and the Florida Space Coast. It publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity, and through its Space CertificationTM and Space Technology Hall of Fame® programs, recognizes space-based innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. Visit both of our websites – and – and follow us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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Space Foundation Media Contact:

Rich Cooper, Space Foundation Vice President – Strategic Communications & Outreach
[email protected]
Cell: 202 596-0714