National Space Society Space Pioneer Awards

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NSS Space Pioneer Awards

The annual Space Pioneer awards recognize those individuals and teams whose accomplishments have helped to open the space frontier. The awards are divided into thirteen categories. The intent is to recognize those who have made significant contributions in different fields of endeavor to “develop a spacefaring civilization that will establish communities beyond the Earth.” 

Generally, three or more Space Pioneer awards are given per year, so not every category is awarded each year. The 13 Space Pioneer Award categories are:

  • Business/Corporate
  • Business/Entrepreneur
  • Compelling Art
  • Educator/Education
  • Government Service (Non-legislative)
  • Government Service (Legislative)
  • Mass Media
  • Public Awareness
  • Scientist/Engineer
  • Service to the Space Community
  • Space Development
  • Special Merit
  • Wide Media

NSS Space Pioneer Awards

nss space pioneer award

Space Pioneer Award Winners:


Peter Beck, Rocket Lab [Science and Technology]
Kathryn Lueders [Non-Legistlative Government Service]
Ingenuity Mars Helocopter Team [Science and Technology]


Dr. Robert Braun [Science and Engineering]
Robert Manning [Science and Engineering]


Steve Jurvetson [Space Entrepreneurship]
Dr. Peggy Whitson [Current Space Achievements]
Mission Juno Team, Dr. Scott Bolton [Science and Engineering]
Dr. Phil Plait [Mass Media]
Isaac Arthur [Mass Media]


Eileen Collins [Historic Space Achievement]
Gerald Griffin [Service to the Space Community]
Jeffrey Manber [Entrepreneurship]
Miles O’Brien [Mass Media]
Dr. Martine A. Rothblatt [Entrepreneurship]
Peter G. Wilhelm [Science and Engineering]
Alfred M. Worden [Historic Space Achievement]


Dr. Frank Drake [Science and Engineering]
Sean Hargreaves [Art]
Thomas Mueller [Science and Engineering]
NASA-JPL and ESA Cassini and Huygens teams [Science and Engineering]
NASA-JPL Voyager Spacecraft tea [Science and Engineering]
Dr. Kathryn Sullivan [Non-Legislative Government Service]


Eric Berger [Mass Media]
George Dietrich [Special Merit]
William H. Gerstenmaier [Non-Legislative Government Service]
Kepler-K2 Team [Science and Engineering]
MAC’s Old Team [Special Merit]
Thomas P. Stafford [Historic Space Achievement}


SpaceX [Science and Engineering]
Orlando Figueroa [Non-Legislative Government Service]
Dr. Ellen Ochoa [Non-Legislative Government Service]
Blue Origin [Science and Engineering]
Jeff Greason [Entrepreneurial Business]
New Horizons Team  [Science and Engineering]


Anousheh Ansari [Service to the Space Community]
ISRO Mars Orbiter Programme Team [Science and Engineering]
Rosetta Team [Science and Engineering]
Kip Thorne [Mass Media]
Jay Barbree [Mass Media]
Lori Garver [Non-Legislative Government Service]


Gwynne E. Shotwell [Business:  Entrepreneur]
Dr. John S. Lewis [Science and Engineering]
Orbital Sciences: Antares & Cygnus Team [Science and Engineering]
Mercury Messenger Team [Science and Engineering]


U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher [Government (Legislative) Service]
Dr. Mae Jemison [Service to the Space Community]
Boeing Company and the Air Force [Science and Engineering]
Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) Team [Science and Engineering]
Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) Team [Science and Engineering]


John Glenn [Historic Space Achievement]
Scott Carpenter [Historic Space Achievement]
Stephen Colbert [Mass Media]
Ben Bova [Mass Media]
Art Dula [Business:  Entrepreneur]
Dr. Robert Farquhar [Science and Engineering]
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team [Science and Engineering]
Frederick Ordway [Lifetime of Service to the Space Community]


Elon Musk [Business Entrepreneur]
Robert Bigelow [Space Development]
X-51A Waverider Team [Science and Engineering]
Paul Spudis [Scientific or Engineering Paper]
Gordon R. Woodcock [Lifetime of Service to the Space Community]
George T. Whitesides [Service to the Space Community]


Ray D. Bradbury [Mass Media]
George T. Whitesides [Service to the Space Community]
NASA-Ames LCROSS Mission Team [Science and Engineering]


Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) [Science and Engineering]
John C. Mankins [Space Development]
Brian G. Marsden [Service to the Space Community]
Russell L. Schweickart [Historic Space Achievement]


“The Caballeros” Col. Mike Hornitschek, USAF, Col. M.V. “Coyote” Smith, USAF, Lt. Col. Peter Garretson, USAF, Lt. Col. Paul Damphousse, USMC, and Gen. James Armor (Ret.) [Space Development]
Anita E. Gale [Education]
Al Globus [Education]
Patricia Grace Smith [Government Service (Non-legislative)]


Kenneth Cox [Space Development]
Heinz Hermann Koelle [Special Merit]


Elon Musk [Business/Entrepreneur]
JAXA HAYABUSA (MUSES-C) Mission Team [Scientist/Engineer]
Michael Griffin [Space Development]


Paul Allen [Business/Entrepreneur]
Mars Exploration Rover Team, accepted by Dr. Steven Squyres [Scientist/Engineer]
Dr. Boris Smeds, ESA, for Cassini/Huygens mission [Scientist/Engineer]


Rep. Sherwood Boehlert [Government Service (Legislative)]
Gary Pearce Barnhard [Special Merit – Space Activist of the Year]
Randall Severy [Special Merit – Space Activist of the Year]


Crew of STS-107


Leonard David [Mass Media]
Dr. Robert Farquhar, Mission Director, and the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Mission Team [Scientist/Engineer]


Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison [Government Service (Legislative)]
Float’n Illini Team (U. of Illinois Chapter) [Education/Public Outreach]


Tom Hanks [Mass Media]
John Glenn [Wide Media]


George French for MoonLink [Business/Entrepreneur]
Alan Binder [Scientist/Engineer]


Greg Allison [Business/Entrepreneur]
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, for Commercial Space Act of 1997 [Government Service (Legislative)]
Mars meteorite team [Scientist/Engineer]
Lori Garver [Special Merit]


Charlie Chafer [Business/Entrepreneur]
Jeff Kluger [Mass Media]
Peter Diamandis [Special Merit]


Glenn Heinmiller [Mass Media]
General Daniel Graham [Special Merit]
Dr. Mark Albrecht [Special Merit]


Dr. Stewart Nozette [Scientist/Engineer]
Tim Kyger [Special Merit]


McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Delta Clipper Team [Business/Corporate]
Dr. Daniel Goldin [Special Merit]


Westinghouse Electric Corporation Commercial and Civil Space Division [Business/Corporate]
Barbara Morgan [Education]
Sen. Barbara Mikulski [Government Service (Legislative)]


Women in Aerospace [Public Awareness]
K. Eric Drexler [Space Development]


Orbital Sciences Corporation [Business/Corporate]
Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology [Business/Entrepreneur]
Rep. Ron Packard [Government Service (Legislative)]
Lyman Spitzer, Jr. [Scientist/Engineer]


3M Corporation [Business/Corporate]
James Bennett [Business/Entrepreneur]
Pat Rawlings [Compelling Art]
The Challenger Center [Education]
Sen. Jake Garn [Government Service (Legislative)]
Wendell Mendell [Scientist/Engineer]


Gilbert W. Keyes, Boeing [Business/Corporate]
Byron Lichtenberg [Business/Entrepreneur]
Dermot Burke and the Princeton Ballet for “A Tribute” [Compelling Art]
Kamil Naguib, World Aerospace Education Foundation [Education]
Rep. George Brown, Jr. [Government Service (Legislative)]
Doug Morrow, Richard MacLeod, U.S. Space Foundation [Mass Media]
Thomas Rogers [Scientist/Engineer]
Craig Covault [Wide Media]