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NASA Ames Highlights Vertical Flight Leaders
  • 28 Jun 2024 11:42 AM
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NASA Ames Highlights Vertical Flight Leaders

By VFS Staff
Vertiflite, July/August 2024

In May, the NASA Ames Research Center held its “2023 Presidential Rank & NASA Honors Awards” ceremony, presenting 73 individual and 27 group awards to NASA employees, contractors and groups, including many NASA employees and teams working on rotorcraft, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, advanced air mobility (AAM) and planetary exploration rotorcraft. The awards were presented by Dr. Eugene L. Tu, Director of NASA Ames Research Center, and Dr. David J. Korsmeyer, Deputy Director at Ames, which is located in Mountain View, California. (Photo above: Some of the award winners at NASA Ames Research Center. NASA photos.)

Winner of the Distinguished Service Medal for work related to vertical flight:

Thomas R. Norman: for profound impact advancing vertical lift technology through new full-scale testing capabilities enabling advanced analyses, Department of Defense rotorcraft, and new AAM aircraft designs.

Individuals working on vertical-flight-related activities receiving the Exceptional Achievement Medal included:

Divya Bhadoria: for outstanding contributions to NASA’s AAM National Campaign and advancing airspace development for urban air mobility (UAM).

Karen T. Cate: for stepping up and providing outstanding leadership of the AAM Project during major formulation and realignment efforts.

Dr. Carlos Malpica: for outstanding achievement to enable NASA’s new and innovative UAM vehicle flight dynamics and ride-quality initiative for future passenger-carrying eVTOL aircraft.

Winners of the Early Career Achievement Medal for work related to vertical flight were:

Athena Chan: for exceptional mechanical design accomplishments leading the Ames experimental design efforts for the Mars Exploration Program planetary rotorcraft initiative.

Shannah N. Withrow: for exceptional contributions to the design and testing of the new Mars Sample Recovery Helicopter development and for enabling future generations of Mars rotorcraft.

Winners of Group Achievement Awards related to vertical flight:

Planetary Aeolian Laboratory ROSES Proposal Team: for changing the future of Mars atmospheric science and aeronautics research at Ames by preparing a winning ROSES-22 Planetary Science Experimental Facility proposal.

UAM eVTOL Vehicle Design and Analysis Team: for outstanding contributions to provide the eVTOL industry with design and analysis tools with training to impact future UAM aircraft and mission capabilities.

UAM Side-by-Side 2 Aeroperformance Test Team: for rapidly developing and testing the first open-domain, fully releasable dataset for the UAM side-by-side rotorcraft aircraft configuration.

NASA Aeronautics Sample Recovery Helicopter Team: for leading the NASA aeronautics contribution to the Mars Sample Return Mission in the design and analysis of the new Sample Recovery Helicopter.

Advanced Air Mobility IAS-1 Research Flight Team: for outstanding execution of full-scale, multivehicle flight testing of AAM strategic and tactical flight path automation functions critical to future autonomous operations.

High Density Vertiplex (HDV) Scalable Autonomous Operations (SAO): for outstanding accomplishments to prototype and assess a UAM Ecosystem and transform uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS).

ARCTIC 3 Simulation Team: for outstanding accomplishments in the development and operation of the Advanced Rotorcraft Configurations Testing for Increased Capabilities (ARCTIC) simulation.

Dr. David Korsmeyer, Mike Hirschberg and Dr. Eugene Tu.
Dr. David Korsmeyer, Mike Hirschberg and Dr. Eugene Tu.

In addition, VFS Director of Strategy Mike Hirschberg received the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal (EPSM), which is “awarded to any individual who was not a Government employee during the period in which the service was performed. This award is granted for exceptional contributions to NASA’s mission.”

The NASA nomination read in part, “For exceptional leadership during his tenure as the Executive Director [where he] transitioned the organization to the more properly named Vertical Flight Society (VFS).” In addition, VFS “began supporting and organizing the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) revolution in 2013. The VFS continues to be the leading international organization for the eVTOL sector engaging industry, academia, and government.”

The nomination continued, “Hirschberg has been an international leader and advocate for vertical lift technologies, writing many articles and commentaries on the promise of advanced aerial mobility (AAM) and building industry-wide support for NASA’s AAM initiatives.”

The NASA write-up also noted the Society’s workforce initiatives (www.vtol.org/workforce), as “a leader in this transitional period of vertical flight to address the future vertical lift workforce to be inclusive and diverse. Mr. Hirschberg has written a series of articles and commentaries on workforce and diversity, and has been a vocal advocate for more inclusive and accessible work environments. Mr. Hirschberg has quantified the huge gap in women and minority vertical flight engineers in the vertical lift community. Through the student chapters of the Vertical Flight Society, NASA’s Aeromechanics Branch in particular has been successful in addressing this gap with early diverse career hires.”

The nomination concluded, “Mr. Hirschberg has demonstrated excellence in leading both the technical revolution in vertical lift and transforming its workforce for the better.”

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