Space Foundation News

Five Accept High Honors at 36th Space Symposium Opening Ceremonies

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

Awardees Recognized for Excellence in Space Education, Space Achievement, Public Outreach, Space Exploration and Lifetime Space Achievement

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Aug. 23, 2021 — Space Foundation, a nonprofit advocate organization founded in 1983, today announced that five honorees have accepted awards for their distinguished achievements in the global space ecosystem.

Kaci Heins Accepts the 2020 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award

Kaci Heins, Space Center University director at Space Center Houston, has accepted the 2020 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award. Heins’ selection for this honor was based on her impressive legacy of achievements, which includes her work as Space Center University Director at Space Center Houston in Houston, Texas, where she currently develops innovative mission-based content and oversees immersive education programs such as Space Center University, Stars & STEM and more.

Access a photo of Heins accepting her award:

The award, named for Mercury and Apollo astronaut Alan Shepard, is presented jointly by Space Foundation, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF) and NASA, in recognition of creative and innovative use of technology by K-12 educators or district-level education personnel.

The U.S. Space Force Accepts the 2021 Space Achievement Award

On behalf of the U.S. Space Force, Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, USSF, accepted the 2021 Space Achievement Award. Beginning with a core formed by the former Air Force Space Command, in fewer than 18 months the U.S. Space Force, the newest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, developed the doctrine, processes, leadership, organizational structures and operations of the world’s first independent space force.

Access a photo of Gen. Raymond accepting the Space Achievement Award:

The Space Achievement Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have demonstrated space achievement, breakthrough space technology, or program/product success representing critical milestones in the evolution of space exploration and development.

Bill Ingalls Accepts the 2021 Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award

Bill Ingalls has accepted the 2021 Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award. As senior contract photographer for NASA headquarters since 1989, Ingalls has captured moments such as Space Shuttle Endeavor’s final landing and the Dante II robot’s exploration of an active volcano. Ingalls’ work has greatly contributed to public knowledge of aeronautics and its impact on humankind.

Access a photo of Ingalls accepting his award:

The Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award is presented annually to an organization or individual who has made significant contributions to the public awareness and understanding of space programs and technology. The award was named for an Academy Award-winning writer and producer, space advocate, and early member of the Space Foundation board of directors.

NASA JPL Accepts the 2021 John L. “Jack” Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration

Lt. General Larry D. James, USAF (ret.), Deputy Director of NASA JPL; The Honorable Senator Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator; and Dr. J (Bob) Balaram, Ingenuity Chief Engineer, JPL, have accepted the 2021 John L. “Jack” Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration on behalf of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Mars Ingenuity Flight Team. The NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has proven itself a milestone in aviation and aeronautics history by performing the first flight of a powered and controlled aircraft on another planet, allowing observation of Mars from an aerial perspective, and enabling the collection of data about conducting flight in a challenging atmosphere. It has since logged 11 additional successful flights of increasing duration, length and distance, surpassing initial expectations.

Access a photo of the award being accepted:

The John L. “Jack” Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration 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. Space Foundation created the Swigert award in 2004 in tribute to his legacy of space exploration.

Family of Patti Grace Smith Accepts the 2021 General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award

The family of Patti Grace Smith has accepted the 2021 General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award — the highest honor bestowed by Space Foundation. As a public servant, Ms. Smith was a champion of private space travel whose regulatory work, leadership and advocacy helped open new worlds of opportunity for the exploration and development of space.

Access a photo Patti Grace Smith’s family accepting her award:

View a short video about Patti Grace Smith here:

The General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award is presented annually in honor of Space Foundation’s 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, industrial or other pursuits of broad benefit to humanity.

About Space Symposium

Space Symposium is the premier assembly for the global space ecosystem, hosted by Space Foundation since 1984. The live event is widely attended by commercial and government leaders, young professionals, entrepreneurs, and educators in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This year’s 36th Space Symposium will enable its thousands of global attendees to seamlessly engage and conduct business both in-person and virtually via Symposium 365 Digital Platform. For more information, please visit

About Symposium 365

Symposium 365, a division of Space Foundation, is the premier source for media and events in the global space ecosystem, offering authoritative news and information and venues for networking and conducting business via the world-renowned Space Symposium, Symposium 365 Digital Platform and The Space Report.  Serving commercial, government and education sectors, Symposium 365 produces signature programming — live and online — for professionals, entrepreneurs, educators and students to learn, connect and conduct business 365 days a year. To learn more about Symposium 365, please visit www.spacesymposium

About Space Foundation

Space Foundation is a nonprofit advocate organization founded in 1983, offering a gateway to information, education and collaboration for space exploration and space-inspired industries that define the global space ecosystem. Driven by a partnership model, Space Foundation operates three divisions that unite the entire spectrum of stakeholders — business, government, education and local communities — through corporate membership, sponsorship, fundraising and grants: Symposium 365 is the premier source for media and events, including the world-renowned Space Symposium and The Space Report. Center for Innovation and Education is a lifelong learning platform. Global Alliance facilitates collaboration around the world. Visit Space Foundation at, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.


All brand names and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Tags: Space Foundation, Space Symposium, John L. “Jack” Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration, NASA JPL Deputy Director Larry D. James, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA Ingenuity, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, Bill Ingalls, space photography, NASA photography, Patti Grace Smith, private space travel, U.S. Space Force, United States Space Force, Space Force, USSF, space achievement award, Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Kelli Seybolt, Lisa Campbell, space award, space economy, space commerce, space reporters, space technology, space innovation, space programs, space community, space ecosystem

Media Contacts:

Rich Cooper
Vice President, Strategic Communications & Outreach
Space Foundation
(202) 596-0714
[email protected]

Dottie O’Rourke
TECHMarket Communications
(650) 344-1260
[email protected]