Space Foundation Press Releases

NASA's Dawn Mission to Receive 2019 John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 14, 2019) – Launched in 2007 and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Dawn mission space probe ended its mission on Oct. 31, 2018, after successfully completing its mission to orbit giant asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, revealing important information about the formation of the solar system. For those accomplishments, the mission will receive the 2019 John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration.

“The only mission ever to orbit two extraterrestrial destinations, Dawn revealed uncharted alien worlds that provide humankind with new perspectives on the solar system,” said Dr. Marc Rayman, Dawn chief engineer and mission director. “Dawn’s extraordinary accomplishments are the product of the talent, dedication, diligence, creativity and teamwork of people committed to space exploration and discovery – in the same spirit as the heroes of Apollo 13.”

The mission’s other major achievements included:

  • First spacecraft to orbit an object in the main asteroid belt
  • Record-breaking use of solar-electric propulsion — 25,700 mph, 2.7 times greater than any prior spacecraft and nearly equal to the velocity provided by Dawn’s Delta launch vehicle
  • Active powered flight – 5.9 years

Dawn completed 3,000 orbits around Vesta and Ceres and captured more than 100,000 images.

Dawn Mission Participants
The Dawn mission was managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. JPL is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Northrop Grumman in Dulles, Va., designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of mission participants, visit:

About the Award
The award was created in memory of NASA astronaut Jack Swigert, a Colorado native who served on the Apollo 13 lunar mission. In 1982, Swigert 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 Swigert Award in 2004 in tribute to his legacy of space exploration.

The award will be presented during the Space Foundation’s 35th Space Symposium, to be held at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 8 -11. The Space Symposium is attended by thousands of the world’s top space leaders, representing all sectors of the global space community. For information and registration, visit

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.

Pictured: An artist’s rendering shows NASA’s Dawn spacecraft maneuvering above Ceres with its ion propulsion system.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

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Space Foundation Media Contact:

Carol Hively, Director Public Relations & Team Communications

[email protected]