2019 Robert H. Goddard Award Winners Credit: NASA

NASA Communications and Navigation Experts Win 15 Goddard Awards

Community members honored for their outstanding contributions throughout 2019

By Katherine Schauer

June 30, 2020

This blog post was written prior to a reorganization of ESC’s projects and networks in support of the agency’s commercialization effort. Though accurate at the time of publication, it is no longer being updated and may contain broken links or outdated information. For more information about the reorganization, click here.

On June 23, 2020, the Communications and Navigation Community received 15 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, diversity and inclusion, and more. Once again, the community has shown their outstanding capability across multiple efforts. Read below to learn more about our winners!

Leadership Award:
Paul Buchanan won for his dedicated leadership of the Space Exploration Network Services and Evolution (SENSE) procurement process. Paul served as the SENSE Source Evaluation Board chair, providing exceptional leadership to a large team of individuals tasked with evaluating competitive proposals for the new SENSE contract.

Customer Service:
Janel Cassard, agreements manager for the Networks Integration Management Office, was awarded for her for outstanding customer service. In her role, Janel is critical to facilitating agreements which enable continued mission support for dozens of NASA missions.

Amanda Hametz, won a customer service award for her financial expertise during her time on the Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment project. Her relentless dedication and keen eye for detail significantly helped the project in areas such as cost savings and process efficiencies.

Secretarial and Clerical:
Kim Walker El won for her unwavering dedication to two Exploration and Space Communications (ESC) missions, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the Integrated LCRD Low Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal. In her role, Kim is essential to the projects’ property accountability, office moves, IT support and weekly and monthly reporting cycles.

Professional Administrative:
Donna Smith, as lead Administrative Officer, has fostered an organized environment within ESC, always putting the needs of her customers first. Through her attention to detail, comprehensive understanding of requirements, and resourcefulness, the ESC’s Executive Leadership Team always has what they need. It is for these reasons, she was awarded the 2019 professional administrative award.

Derek Robinson won the professional administrative award for his focused efforts in elevating Goddard Space Flight Center’s Earned Value Management policies to an unprecedented level of excellence. Through his efforts, he helped the center comply with new agency-level directives.

Xuan Nguyen displayed brilliant and unmatched engineering technique in his recent feat of reverse engineering a critical circuit board for Search and Rescue (SAR) antennas, helping the SAR office continue its mission to save lives worldwide. It was for these reasons, Xuan won the engineering award.

The Near Earth Network Launch Communications Segment Development team won the engineering award for their exceptional contributions to NASA crewed exploration initiatives. The new and cost-effective segment will provide launch communications support to many of the agency’s upcoming Artemis missions, tracking spacecraft from three stations as they launch from the Kennedy Spaceport.

The Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) Level 6 Readiness team displayed focus, ingenuity, and resolve in getting the project ready to enter Level 6 testing, a critical phase that allowed SGSS to begin testing with in-orbit Tracking and Data Relay Satellites. The team was awarded the engineering award for successfully demonstrating to stakeholders the technical and operational maturity of the SGSS system.

New Opportunities Captured:
The LunaNet team won the newly-created new opportunities captured award for their technical expertise in rapidly developing a strategic proposal for communications and navigation infrastructure at the Moon. The team successfully proposed a network-centric system that leverages the capabilities of disruption tolerant networking to create a terrestrial-like internet on the Moon capable of providing missions with robust communications, navigation and science utilization services.

Ryan Turner’s exceptional dedication to mentorship has guided many interns, earning him the mentorship award. As a mentor, Ryan is compassionate and diligent, ensuring that his interns learn all the necessary skills to enter the fulltime, professional workforce.

Danny Baird won the 2019 outreach award for his exceptional efforts in creating vivid and dynamic communications products, highlighting the necessity of space communications and navigation. His dedication to outreach has never wavered and his creative ideas, innovative thinking and commitment have profoundly impacted ESC’s communications products.

Tessa Iglesias won the outreach award for her creative thinking, organizational skillset, and her ability to revolutionize existing internal communications products. During her time with ESC, Tessa’s work increased ESC’s presence across Goddard, educating employees on the critical role communications and navigation play in each mission.

The Optical Comm Laser Ranging Patent Team won technicians award for their outstanding contributions in securing a patent for precision ranging through optical communications systems, enhancing navigation capabilities for NASA and industry.

Diversity and Inclusion:
The Flight Project Directorate Diversity and Inclusion Team won for their first-ever Diversity and Inclusion campaign. The committee consisted of volunteers who dedicated their time outside of work to bring awareness and tackle unconscious bias at Goddard. The Code 400 committee included many members from the Comm and Nav Community.