Comm and Nav Community Experts Win 10 Goddard Awards

By Katherine Schauer

June 23, 2021

2021 Robert H. Goddard Award Winners Credit: NASA

On June 13, 2021, the Communications and Navigation Community received 10 Robert H. Goddard awards, recognizing individuals and teams at the center-level for their outstanding work achieved over the past year. Our community members won in numerous categories, including leadership, mentorship, engineering, customer service, outreach, and more. Once again, the community has shown their outstanding capability across multiple efforts. Read below to learn more about our winners!

Leadership Award:
Zachary Gonnsen won for his dedicated leadership of the Integrated LCRD Low-Earth-Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T). As the lead systems engineer on the project, Gonnsen leads ILLUMA-T through numerous challenges while overseeing the engineering discipline managers and ensuring the project continually makes progress. Gonnsen has been the ILLUMA-T project’s champion since its inception and has guided the project through many milestones.

Engineering Award:
Peyush Jain won for his dedicated work as the Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) low-rate segment manager. In this capacity, he is furnishing the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission with a new, revolutionary networking technology — one that will be foundational for the creation of a solar system internet. Jain is overseeing the first operational, direct-to-Earth application of DTN’s Bundle Protocol version 6, delivering software and hardware to Goddard Space Flight Center’s PACE mission.

The Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) Team won for their engineering expertise and their ability to meet demanding deadlines. The DTN team is creating a networking capability that will revolutionize space communications for user missions, empowering missions at the Moon, Mars, and beyond with unprecedented connectivity and network access, establishing a solar system internet. Over the last year, the DTN team has been finalizing DTN for use on the PACE mission and within networking ground stations, which will receive PACE’s space data. The team artfully combined requirements from both the mission and the network and overcame numerous challenges, one of them being a demanding schedule.

Mentoring Award:
Jimmy Acevedo won for his cultivation, mentorship, and cares of interns. In 2020, despite the enormous challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the agency teleworking posture, Acevedo crafted one of the most successful summers that the SCaN Internship Project (SIP) has ever had. As SIP intern coordinator, Acevedo found and posted opportunities for interns, as well as garnered qualified applicants to those positions. Acevedo also provided additional professional development, networking opportunities, and SCaN-specific education on top of standard intern programming.

The Goddard-based SCaN Internship Project (SIP) Team was awarded for providing interns with meaningful, hands-on experience, interactive mentor/mentee relationships, and opportunities for professional development despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s virtual program supported more than 40 interns spanning Fairbanks, Alaska, to Carolina, Puerto Rico. For the 10-week program, each intern was assigned a project tailored to their interests and they worked closely with mentors despite the telework posture.

Outreach Award:
Amber Jacobson won for her extensive outreach efforts of the historic SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo Mission 2 (DM-2). Using myriad tactics, Jacobson reached a diverse set of internal and external groups with exciting and dynamic products. These tactics covered all phases of the mission from launch to docking and undocking to splashdown. The content her team generated spotlighted the important role Goddard played. Overall, the campaign reached an estimated 230 million individuals, generating over 7 million impressions, and about 70 thousand engagements.

Technicians Award:
Michael Bay was awarded for his engineering excellence and leadership of the Orion Artemis II Optical Communications System (O2O) project. As the lead systems engineer, Bay oversees O2O’s mechanical, electrical, and optical engineers, who are creating an optical communications terminal for the Artemis II mission. When O2O’s project manager left, Bay stepped up and took on many of the responsibilities. He kept the team motivated and got the project through many milestones.

New Opportunities Captured Award:
The ESC Network Reorganization Tiger Team won for their immense agility and exceptional innovation. In under 90 days, the team was able to develop a network architecture that combines traditional networking with NASA’s commercialization goals, proposed plans for management, documented all potential risks and mitigation strategies, filled vacancies through realignment activities, reallocated funding, and more. The tiger team was able to develop these new elements while maintaining the operations of the existing networks. Although change is never easy, throughout the entire effort the tiger team kept the benefits of commercialization in mind and implemented a strategic way to transition a legendary system into an innovative and agile architecture.

Customer Service Award:
Ken Griffin won for his exemplary service to NASA’s Near Earth Network. Griffin is exceptional at understanding of the customers’ goals and objectives, working closely with management to thoroughly develop a plan to address obsolescence, security, and reliability within the network. His thorough understanding and experience were critical in ensuring management had the information it needed when decisions needed to be made. The Near Earth Network has been reorganized, learn more here.

The Networks Integration Management Office (NIMO) Launch Vehicle Team won for providing outstanding communication services to the Mitsubishi Heavy Industry (MHI) H-IIA rocket launch on July 19, 2020. This achievement came after significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and international partnerships in a time with minimal human-to-human contact. The Networks Integration Management Office has been reorganized, learn more here.