Agency Honors 13 Comm and Nav Members Credit: NASA

Comm and Nav Community Members Win 13 Agency Honor Awards

By Kendall Murphy

March 3, 2022

On February 8, 2022, the Communications and Navigation Community received 13 Agency Honor Awards, recognizing nine individuals and four teams at the agency-level for their outstanding work achieved over the past year. Our community members won for their early career achievements, exceptional service, outstanding leadership, and more.

Receiving an Agency Honor Award is one of NASA's highest honors and our community continues to be recognized for their above and beyond contributions to NASA. Read below to learn more about our winners!

Exceptional Service Medal:

David Israel won for his leadership and exemplary vision in establishing bold communications and network initiatives for NASA. Israel joined NASA over 30 years ago and has dedicated his career to communications, working on techniques that revolutionize NASA’s capabilities. He led the team that conceptualized LunaNet, which will extend internet-like capabilities to the Moon in support of the Artemis missions, and was the visionary behind NASA’s Near Space Network, a revolutionary new way for NASA to conduct space communications.

Exceptional Public Service Medal:

Kenneth Griffin won for his service to NASA’s historic Near Earth Network (pre-reorganization). Throughout his career, Griffin provided critical support for the network and the missions that relied on it by demonstrating outstanding innovation, creativity, and commitment, while his integrity earned him trust and confidence.

Early Career Achievement Medal:

Christian Rivera Rivera won for his dedication and innovation in enhancing and revolutionizing ground services for the LCRD mission, exhibiting engineering excellence and a keen understanding of system engineering. Rivera Rivera played a vital role in the maturity and readiness of LCRD ground systems and enhanced the capabilities of the system prior to launch and activation.

Katherine Schauer won for the exceptional work accomplished over her short, but impactful career with the Exploration and Space Communications division. Schauer’s public engagement and technical writing prowess quickly earned her a reputation for excellence, responsiveness, and work ethic. Throughout her career she has created numerous feature articles, print products, and digital media activities that educate the general public and the aerospace community about innovative space communications technologies.

Silver Achievement Award - Individual:

Trisha Randazzo won for her leadership, altruistic dedication, and remarkable versatility through the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) mission integration and testing (I&T) activities. She put in tremendous overtime to ensure the success of LCRD’s testing activities and her unique combination of relentless positivity, can-do attitude, and grit ensured these critical events were major accomplishments for LCRD.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Medal:

Javier Ocasio-Perez won for his altruistic advocacy of Hispanic employees at NASA through the promotion of academic opportunities and unexplored career pathways. Ocasio-Perez has performed above and beyond his duties not only as the LCRD mission integration and test manager, but as the Co-Chair of the Hispanic Advisory Committee for Employees.

Outstanding Leadership Medal:

Chetan Sayal won for his leadership of the Integrated LCRD Low-Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T) project by aiding the team through key milestones and reviews during the pandemic. Sayal’s innovative approaches to leading, managing, and implementing ILLUMA-T will enable the agency to establish optical communications capabilities on the International Space Station.

Outstanding Public Leadership Medal:

Salem El-Nimri won for his outstanding contributions to the agency, which include creating advanced networking tools and leveraging commercial capabilities. El-Nimri created the DAPHNE system, cloud-based data access service that will allow mission teams to acquire their data faster and from almost anywhere. To make this innovative system, he coordinated with multiple partners, within and outside of NASA, and created a plan that would satisfy each partner.

Rae Roe won for her leadership and innovative approaches to configuration and data management, guiding her team through complex systems while fostering teamwork. Roe supports every project with dedication and diligence, leveraging her 37 years of expertise to tackle any challenge with a positive attitude.

Group Achievement Award:

Near Earth Network (NEN) Team (pre-reorganization) won for their dedication, spanning over 30 years, to providing NASA missions with critical direct-to-Earth communications services. Prior to the network reorganization in 2020, the NEN team set up missions with daily spacecraft contacts, averaging between 120 and 150 contacts, with more than 20 ground sites around the globe. During the reorganization, the team showed outstanding courage and embraced the necessary change to move into the future of space communications.

Silver Achievement Award - Group:

The Data Acquisition Processing and Handling Network Environment (DAPHNE) Team won for their demonstration of exemplary technical skills and incredibly courageous behavior in volunteering to travel to Svalbard, Norway during a global pandemic to ensure the successful installation of the cloud-based system DAPHNE.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) Optical Nav Tech Team won for their sustained, exemplary contributions to the field of optical navigation and OSIRIS-REx’s exploration and sample collection at the near-Earth asteroid Bennu.

The Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) Project Team won for outstanding modernization of critical NASA space communications infrastructure for the Advanced Communications Capabilities for Exploration and Science Systems (ACCESS) project. The team upgraded the infrastructure to accommodate higher data rates and volume, increase security, streamline maintenance requirements, and extend the network’s lifespan for years to come.