2011 Corporate Awards
2011 Trustees’ Award Winner
Natarajan “Nat” Bhaskar, systems director, Missile Defense and Space Sensors Division, Systems Planning Engineering and Quality
Bhaskar was honored “for the relentless pursuit for excellence to deliver a one-of-a-kind space-sensor capability for the MDA.”
Bhaskar was the key architect and leader of a team that supplied one-of-a-kind, $1.7 billion sensor capability to the Missile Defense Agency. He overcame numerous complex technical challenges to safely deliver two Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) satellites to the launch site and to orbit, and to complete early orbit test and enter the mission test phase.
In spite of widespread skepticism that this concept was not viable, Bhaskar stood firm in his commitment and conviction that the technical challenges were manageable — and in August 2002, STSS was born.
Bhaskar built a team and worked tirelessly for eight years to redesign, assemble, test, and troubleshoot the two unique sensors and spacecraft that constitute this first-of-its-kind capability.
He nurtured the FDS legacy hardware into a “Class A,” highly reliable, fully redundant, fully tested, fully validated pair of sister spacecraft. He adeptly led his team through challenging failure review boards, redesigns, rework, recoding, and retries, while successfully mitigating and resolving performance issues and risks.
Bhaskar’s 14-year quest culminated in the successful launch of the two STSS satellites in September 2009 and the completion of early orbit testing in December 2010. Throughout this period, he demonstrated an unsurpassed drive and commitment to excellence and the STSS mission, providing the nation the first-ever demonstration of birth-to-death tracking of a ballistic missile threat.
2011 President’s Award Winners
Dr. James Barrie, distinguished scientist, Physical Sciences Laboratories, Engineering and Technology Group
Dr. Chung-Tse “C.T.” Chu, research scientist, Physical Sciences Laboratories, Engineering and Technology Group
Dr. Peter Fuqua, senior scientist, Physical Sciences Laboratories, Engineering and Technology Group
The team was awarded a President’s Achievement Award “for identification of a critical mirror design flaw.”
The team identified a critical mirror-coating design flaw early in the spacecraft manufacturing process. When the contractor strongly contested the claim, the team developed experiments that demonstrated the as-produced mirrors were inferior to legacy mirrors. The results prompted the government to direct the contractor to recoat all affected flight hardware.
It was later found that mirrors produced by the unauthorized process for other customers began to show spontaneous degradation after less than two years of exposure to air, much less than the time required for our customer’s program. Had this deficiency not been corrected when it was, subsequent coating failures would have severely impacted the launch schedule for a time-critical, high-priority system.
It is estimated by the Aerospace program office that discovery of this problem early in the assembly process — rather than after the optics had been integrated and delivered — saved the government as much as $500 million through the avoidance of rework and the launch delay that would have inevitably ensued. The more critical saving, however, was the lack of delay in system integration and delivery on the highest priority mission in this customer’s portfolio of upcoming systems.
Last year, a coating failure was discovered on a commercial spacecraft under construction that is using a coating similar to the one identified as flawed by the Aerospace team. Because the failure occurred well into the build cycle, the cost and schedule impacts could be significant, further amplifying the value of the Aerospace contribution to the government program.
Nathalie David, senior project engineer, Strategic Awareness and Policy, Systems Planning, Engineering, and Quality
Daniel Sebo, senior project leader, Strategic Awareness and Policy, Systems Planning, Engineering, and Quality
The team was presented a President’s Achievement Award “for creation, development, and execution of innovative techniques significantly improving U.S. space situational awareness.”
On their own initiative, David and Sebo identified and invented an operational solution to a significant shortfall in U.S. space surveillance capabilities for tracking foreign space launches in selected orbital regimes.
Their methods significantly increased the ability of those surveillance capabilities to maintain custody of newly launched satellites through their initial orbital maneuvers.
Prior to the implementation of their techniques, there was a high incidence of incomplete U.S. space situational awareness on important foreign space launches.
The team’s long-standing national reputations in the space situational awareness community were instrumental in getting permission for the first real-world trials of their techniques. This was a nontrivial matter because of the risk of potential disruption of critical U.S. global space tracking activities.
The team’s techniques and operational counsel are regularly executed and sought for many new foreign launches by the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Dr. Richard Dolphus, senior engineering specialist, Control Analysis Department, Guidance and Control Subdivision, Engineering and Technology Group
Dr. Charles Gray, senior engineering specialist, Control Analysis Department, Guidance and Control Subdivision, Engineering and Technology Group
Johnny Lam, senior member of the technical staff, Control Analysis Department, Guidance and Control Subdivision, Engineering and Technology Group
Dr. Jason Ly, associate systems director, Space Based Surveillance Division, Space Programs Operations, Space Systems Group
The team was presented a President’s Achievement Award “for efforts in restoring critical national security assets to the DSP missile warning constellation.”
The team played a critical role in the return of two national assets from “Red” to “Green” status, mitigating coverage-gap concerns for the missile warning mission area.
In 2009, the mission availability of several Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites was threatened by attitude sensor degradations as each satellite had far outlived its design life.
The team quickly responded by developing a strategy to attack the problem in a two-pronged approach — by improving the existing contractor algorithm and software and by developing an innovative algorithm to return two satellites to baseline system performance capability.
The team’s dedication and abilities resulted in successful achievement of their objective on a compressed schedule. End users of the DSP data have greatly benefited from the new and robust algorithm that delivers significant improvement in line-of-sight accuracy and other mission performance parameters.
This capability is expected to endure over the remaining life of the DSP space vehicles, as it is predicted that similar attitude control sensors failures will occur over time. The improved alternate attitude determination software extends the DSP mission life and ensures performance of the $3.2 billion DSP constellation.
Warren Goda, principal director, Research Program Development Office, Engineering and Technology Group
Michael Rolenz, senior engineering specialist, Communication Electronics Department, Engineering and Technology Group
William Slutter, systems director, Advanced Concepts and Mission, National Systems Group
The team was honored with the President’s Achievement Award “for enabling a quick transition of unique capabilities to the warfighter and intelligence community for the most sensitive U.S. operations.”
The team provided unique contributions critical to the success of a highly classified advanced technology quick reaction capability program critical to supporting national priorities, including the war on terrorism.
Their contributions, which began as a follow-on study and extended through deployment and transition to operations, were invaluable to the implementation of this revolutionary systems concept. These contributions encompassed leadership, initiative, integrity, and technical accuracy.
2011 Program Recognition Award
2011 Diversity Awards
Terita Norton, project engineer, EHF Space Segment, MILSATCOM Division, Space Systems Group
Norton was cited by the diversity awards committee for her “extraordinary and intentional commitment that embodies diversity in practice that showcases Aerospace as an employer of choice.” She has worked for more than 10 years in a variety of projects that increase the representation at Aerospace of individuals of diverse backgrounds through recruiting, mentoring, tutoring, and networking programs and events. She has also worked with high-school and middle-school students in programs to encourage science and engineering education.
Joe Strada, general manager, Electronic Programs Division, National Systems Group
The diversity awards committee cited Strada for his “leadership by service to the corporation, the nation, and armed forces, reflecting our best traditions and values.” During his time at Aerospace, he has initiated and led efforts to support veterans. He was integral in forming the Aerospace Military Veterans (East) affinity group in 2003 and recently was instrumental in creating a Wounded Warrior program at the corporation to help wounded soldiers acquire technical skills while undergoing treatment. President and CEO Dr. Wanda Austin noted that Strada has organized and hosted 19 Aerospace Military Veterans tributes and events.