The National Space Club Florida Committee is one of three regional committees of the National Space Club in Washington, D.C. We provide information on space activities through monthly luncheons, promoting space leadership, stimulating advancement of space applications, sponsoring educational activities, and providing recognition for contributions to advancements in aerospace science, operations, research, and education.

2013 Debus Award Winner: Robert D. Cabana

After earning a bachelor of science in mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971, Robert D. Cabana was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He completed Naval Flight Officer training in Pensacola in 1972 and served as an A-6 bombardier/navigator with Marine Air Wings in Cherry Point, N.C., and Iwakuni, Japan. He returned to Pensacola in 1975 for pilot training and was designated a naval aviator in September of 1976, earning the Daughters of the American Revolution award as the top Marine to complete flight training that year. He graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 1981 and served in the Flight Systems Branch at the Naval Air Test Center until 1984.

Cabana was selected as an astronaut candidate in June 1985 and completed his initial astronaut training in July 1986. He was assigned to the Johnson Space Center Astronaut Office, serving in a number of leadership positions, including lead astronaut in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory; Mission Control Spacecraft Communicator, famously known as CAPCOM; and Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office.

A veteran of four space flights, Cabana has logged over 910 hours in space, serving as the pilot on missions STS-41 and STS-53 and Mission Commander on STS-65 and STS-88, the first assembly mission of the International Space Station in December of 1998. Following STS-88, he served in numerous, successively challenging, senior management positions, ultimately becoming Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston; Director of the Stennis Space Center in Miss.; and, currently, tenth Director of the Kennedy Space Center in Fla. He retired as a Colonel from the Marine Corps in September 2000 and was appointed a member of NASA’s Senior Executive Service.

Cabana has logged over 7,000 hours in 45 different kinds of aircraft. He is a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, a 2008 inductee into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, an Associate Fellow in the AIAA, and he has received numerous personal awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award.

He is married to the former Nancy Joan Shimer of Cortland, N.Y. They have three grown children and reside in Cocoa, Fla.

About the Debus Award

Dr. Kurt H. Debus

Dr. Kurt H. Debus

The Debus Award was created by the National Space NSCFL Florida Committee to recognize significant achievements and contributions made in Florida to American aerospace efforts. It is named for the Kennedy Space Center's first Director, Dr Kurt Debus.

The award was conceived and first bestowed in 1990 as an adjunct to the Robert J. Goddard award given each year by the National Space NSCFL in Washington, D.C. to an individual who stood out in the aerospace field on a national level. The Debus Award focuses on efforts in Florida and include individuals associated with launch vehicles, spacecraft operations, ground support services, range activities, space education and spaceport research and development.

Each honoree is presented with a small copy of the Debus Award Trophy, a stainless steel kinetic sculpture dubbed "Ribbon of Space" by its contemporary artist creator Elijah David Herschler. His work can be seen at the Kennedy Space Center, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., Mercedes Benz World Headquarters in Stuttgart and New York, and numerous private collections in the United States and Europe.

  1. The nominee must have made significant contributions to the space industry in Florida through either technical achievement, education, or the management of aerospace related activities.
  2. The nominee must have been either actively engaged in their working career or have retired from it since the most recently conferred Debus Award.
  3. The nominee must be recognized for having been actively engaged in community service as an advocate and supporter of space.
  4. Individuals who have previously received a Lifetime Achievement Award are not eligible.
Submit a written nomination for the Debus Award to either:
The National Space Club Florida
PO Box 21243
Kennedy Space Center, Florida 32815-0243


Past Debus Award Recipients

2012 Patty Stratton
Patty Stratton’s aerospace career spans 30 years, with the last 17 spent at United Space Alliance in a variety of management and leadership roles, most recently as the Associate Program Manager for Ground Operations at Kennedy Space Center. In this position she was responsible for directing integration of all Space Shuttle processing activities, as well as managing the operations of all facilities and more than 3,800 personnel required to process the Space Shuttle from landing to launch. It was in this role that Stratton played a major part in successfully managing the wind-down of the Space Shuttle Program, which finished with the cleanest and most trouble-free missions of the Program.

Prior to heading up Ground Operations, Stratton served as Deputy Associate Program Manager of the group. Before taking on that job, she served as Director of Orbiter Operations, which involved managing a workforce of 1,400 employees in the Orbiter horizontal processing flow that began at landing and ended with launch. From 2001 to 2003, Stratton served as USA’s director of Launch Operations and was responsible for the nearly 700 employees that handled the vertical operations for the Shuttle program, which took place in operational facilities such as the Vehicle Assembly Building and the launch pads. Prior to that, Stratton served as the Deputy Director for the Program Office, helping to manage and monitor all processing procedures for ground operations and changes to program requirements.

Stratton began her aerospace career in 1982 as a member of the project office with United Space Boosters, maker of the Shuttle’s Solid Rocket Boosters. In 1983, she began working for Lockheed Space Operations in operations planning and graduated from there to management roles with increasing levels of responsibility.

She has been honored with the Space Flight Awareness Honoree Award, NASA’s Quality and Safety Achievement Recognition Award, the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Rotary Stellar Award, and the Leadership Award from Women in Aerospace.

Stratton holds a bachelor of science degree in business from Barry University and a master’s in technical management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She is a graduate of the Brookings Institute, the Boeing Leadership Center, and the Lockheed Martin Management Institute. Stratton resides with her husband in Merritt Island, FL, and has given her time and support to numerous community organizations, including the National Management Association, LEAD Brevard, Young Professionals of Brevard, Brevard Workforce and the Space Coast Economic Development Commission.

2011 Jerry A. Jamison
Jerry A. Jamison, vice president of Launch Operations for United Launch Alliance (ULA), has been selected by the National Space Club Florida Committee to receive its 2011 Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award.

“The Space Club is proud to honor Jerry for this prestigious award,” said National Space Club Chair Dr. Stephen Feldman. “Jerry has over 27 years of service to our nation’s space program including both Air Force and NASA payloads and currently leads over 1,000 Cape and Vandenberg employees. His dedication and influence in our space program is exemplary.”

In his role as ULA Launch Operations Vice President, Jamison leads more than 1,000 employees at launch sites at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. He is responsible for integrating the launch services for ULA’s three launch vehicles, the Atlas V, Delta II and Delta IV and associated product lines.

With over 27 years of space-related program experience serving multiple customers, Jamison has led engineering teams in numerous launch systems including both Air Force and NASA payloads. Prior to this assignment, Jamison served as Atlas Program Launch Operations director responsible for all aspects of launch operations for both coasts. Jamison, before re-joining the Atlas program, served as the avionics manager for Titan Centaur Program in Denver. He held this position throughout the Titan Program flyout in 2005. This was preceded by his serving as Launch Operations manager for Titan IV Centaur vehicles at Cape Canaveral where he managed the first flight of the Titan IVB and launched NASA’s Cassini vehicle in 1997. During this time, he managed personnel on a variety of launch vehicle programs including Titan IV Centaur, Atlas Centaur and Shuttle Centaur designs. This involved engineering, integration and planning necessary to process different vehicle designs through the Kennedy Space Center facilities and United States Air Force launch complex facilities such as Space Launch Complexes 36, 40 and 41.

Jamison has received numerous awards and recognitions including Lockheed Martin Space System Company’s Mentor of the Year in 2001, graduated from the Defense Systems Management College’s Advance Program Acquisition Management course in 1999 and received Lockheed Martin’s Space System Company Technical Excellence Award in 1995, 1997 and 1998.

Jamison was also a major contributor to the development of Lockheed Martin Corporation’s 2004 program management 301 course taught to senior program manager across the company.

Jamison holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Central Florida. He is an active member community member serving on the Board of Directors for Space Coast Junior Achievement, Brevard Community College, the National Space Club, United Way and the Spacewalk of Fame. He is also a member the Space Coast Civilian/Military (CivMil) organization.

Jamison and his wife Karin reside in Melbourne. They have four children: Scott, Kalie, Melissa and Kyle.
2010 Roy C. Tharpe
With nearly 50 years of experience working for the nation's space program in government and industry, Roy Tharpe joined the Kennedy Space Center family in 1963 as a data analyst working for NASA on Project Gemini. He worked on the launch team during Apollo and Skylab, and in 1972 joined an elite group of planners who worked with Dr. Debus to transform KSC's operations, facilities and organization from Apollo to the Space Shuttle. After spending two years in California to support the Space Shuttle's Approach and Landing Test program, Tharpe returned to work Shuttle operations at KSC before spending another two years on the West Coast, this time supporting the construction and activation of Space Launch Complex Six at Vandenberg AFB.

Upon returning to Florida in 1984, Tharpe's NASA career included support of Shuttle payload operations, evaluating Russia's space capabilities, and consolidating Shuttle operations into a single contract, which was awarded to United Space Alliance. Tharpe left NASA in 1996, joining Boeing to help manage International Space Station processing at KSC. He worked a number of management roles, including Site Chief of Staff, until leaving Boeing in 2007 when he joined Northrop Grumman as Director, Space and Science and was assigned to Space Gateway Support as deputy of operations for the Joint Base Operations Contract. Tharpe is currently president of SGS. Tharpe is well known along the Space Coast as a community leader, including a one-year term in 2007 as Chairman of the Cocoa Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and from 2007 to 2009 as Chairman of the National Space Club Florida Committee. Among his many awards include a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals and the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement.

Tharpe was born in Georgia but moved to Florida at age four, growing up with the space program on Merritt Island. He earned a B.S. in Mathematics from Western Carolina University at Cullowhee, N.C. in 1963 and immediately began work at NASA's Launch Operations Center. Tharpe continues to reside on Merritt Island with his wife of 47 years, the former Barbara Ann Reinholdt. They have three children; son Roy Jr. and his wife Tracy and their two children Troy and John, son Todd and daughter Jennifer, who is a third generation space worker.
2009 ASRC's John R. (Dick) Lyon
In Lyon’s present role as Vice President and leader of an ASRC Aerospace team of 600, he supports NASA in the design and development of KSC ground checkout and servicing systems for the nation’s next human space flight endeavor to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.  From 1997 to 2003, he led an Engineering Development Contract run by Dynacs Engineering Company at KSC that received a special agency-wide award for the most significant innovation of the year, a design that allowed a timely and safe repair of the Space Shuttle at the launch pad.

Before his industry roles, Lyon had a 34-year career as a KSC civil servant, with leadership positions as a senior executive for 17 years. This included serving as Chief of the Shuttle Design Project Office, Director of Project Engineering, Director of Mechanical and Structural Engineering, and Deputy Director of Design Engineering through the turnover of the Launch Complex 39B Shuttle launch pad. He was also Deputy Director of Payload Operations during the Spacelab and Hubbell Space Telescope timeframe, was the KSC Program Manager for Space Station, and retired as the Director of Logistics.

Arriving at KSC in 1964, Lyon was assigned the role of planning and managing the layout of ground servicing equipment for the Apollo and Lunar Module spacecraft at Launch Complexes 34, 37, and 39. In this role he worked with many NASA icons, leading design review discussions with Dr. Debus and Dr. Von Braun and familiarizing Dr. George Low and the Apollo astronauts with the Mobile Launcher and launch pad. As the Project Manager for the Space Nuclear Power and Lunar Surface Experiments, Lyon worked directly with Dr. Debus to establish ground-breaking policy for handling nuclear materials at KSC. As the KSC expert, he worked directly with the Atomic Energy Commission and was among those who briefed President Jimmy Carter and the seven original Mercury astronauts during their visits to KSC.

During the early ’70s, as an employee in the Shuttle Engineering Project Office, Lyon negotiated KSC’s role for developing unique ground support systems with the NASA flight hardware development centers, which resulted in establishing KSC’s responsibilities for ground systems development. He moved into roles of increasing responsibility in Design Engineering while leading the design and implementation of KSC Space Shuttle facilities and systems such as the landing facility and pads A and B at Launch Complex 39.

As KSC’s Space Station Program Manager, Lyon took on the task of convincing senior NASA management to build the current Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF). He continued to provide leadership for the design and implementation of the SSPF, which could successfully test and integrate almost any space payload configuration.

Lyon aunhceshas also served in many other capacities during his KSC career including President of the NASA Kennedy Management Association, Chairman of the 27th Space Congress, Chairman of the Center Awards Committee, and was a featured speaker at numerous events including a Nickelodeon TV production on the Space Station.

2008 Brigadier General Susan J. Helms
General Helms is Commander of the 45th Space Wing and the Director of the Eastern Range at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. She is the final approval authority for all launches on the Eastern Range, a 15-million-square-mile area that includes a complex network of radar, telemetry, optics and telecommunication instrumentation operating from Newfoundland to the West Coast of Africa. She is responsible for the processing and launch of Department of Defense satellites and also provides launch range support for NASA and commercial satellites from Cape Canaveral. Since taking command in June 2007, she has directed 24 successful launches. NASA Shuttle missions support further construction of the International Space Station and their expendable missions advance our nation's scientific achievements and exploration of space. Department of Defense missions directly contribute to the defense of our nation and war on terrorism by delivering space-base navigation, communication and intelligence capabilities. During her tenure the wing also garnered an EXCELLENT Operational Readiness Inspection rating which is designed to rigorously test the Wing's readiness to defend the installation and deploy our forces for world contingencies. As Wing Commander, she also leads the Air Force as a pathfinder in Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century (AFSO21) initiatives. Through her unique leadership she is streamlining the launch safety approval processes, launch processing, range operations processes, and facility management processes.

Selected by NASA in January 1990, General Helms became an astronaut in July 1991. She flew on STS-54 (1993), STS-64 (1994), STS-78 (1996) and STS-101 (2000), and served aboard the International Space Station as a member of the Expedition-2 crew (2001). A veteran of five space flights, General Helms has logged 211 days in space, including a spacewalk of 8 hours and 56 minutes, a world record.

General Helms is a national hero who has excelled as both a military space leader and space pioneer in our Astronaut Corps.
2007 Bruce Melnick
Mr. Melnick is being recognized for his outstanding personal and professional efforts in supporting the U.S. space program throughout his career, both as a NASA astronaut and as a key contractor manager supporting operations at the Kennedy Space Center. Mr. Melnick is being recognized for his outstanding personal and professional efforts in supporting the U.S. space program throughout his career, both as a NASA astronaut and as a key contractor manager supporting operations at the Kennedy Space Center.
2006 Jim Kennedy
James W. Kennedy is the eighth director of NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla. Prior to this appointment, he served as KSC's deputy director and earlier as the deputy director of NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala. Kennedy began his career with NASA in 1968 in the Aerospace Engineering Cooperative Education Program, first at KSC and then at MSFC. After earning his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn University in 1972, he was called to active duty with the U.S. Air Force. In 1977, he received his Master's in business administration from Georgia Southern University. Kennedy's work experience includes serving as project manager for major projects, such as the X-34, DC-XA, and Solid Rocket Booster Projects. He served as deputy director of MSFC's Science and Engineering Directorate and later as the first director of the Center's Engineering Directorate. He has received numerous awards, including the National Space NSCFL's Astronautics Engineer of the Year Award, MSFC Leadership Award, the Silver Snoopy Award, NASA's Distinguished Service Medal, and the Presidential Rank of Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards.
2005 Richard Beagley
Richard C. (Dick) Beagley is Vice President of Safety, Quality, and Mission Assurance for United Space Alliance (USA), reporting directly to President and CEP Mike McCulley. Located in Florida, he is responsible for safety, quality, and mission assurance for the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Programs, and for developing and maintaining total quality systems throughout USA.

Prior to assuming these positions with USA, Beagley was Director of Safety, Reliability, and Quality Assurance for USBI, a division of United Technologies, for 10 years before the company transitioned to USA in 1999 to become the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) Element. He also held the additional responsibility of managing the Quality Assurance and Environmental Health & Safety activities as a Center of Excellence for Pratt & Whitney Space Propulsion Operations. In that position, he reported directly to the President of Pratt & Whitney Space Propulsion.

Prior to joining USBI, Beagley held numerous management positions in aerospace and other fields. He was a System Safety Supervisor and Test Conductor during the Apollo Program and left the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in 1971 to become Administrative Assistant to the Attorney General of Florida.

In 1979, he returned to KSC as Manager of System Safety for Rockwell International on the Space Shuttle Program. In this position, Beagley was directly involved in the planning for the first 10 Space Shuttle launches and landings. In 1984, he became Manager of Industrial Hygiene, Safety and Technical Training at Rockwell's nuclear operations in Hanford, Washington. Following the Challenger accident in 1986, he returned to the Shuttle program with Rockwell, transferring to Downey, California to manage several return-to-flight projects. In 1988 he came back to KSC to manange the transition of the Orbiter Logistics Contract from California to Florida. Active in community affairs, Beagley has served as Chairman for the Brevard Community College Board of Governors and The National Space NSCFL Florida Committee. He also serves on the Brevard Symphony Orchestra's Board of Directors, Brevard Museum of Art & Science Board of Trustees and the Health First Foundation Heart Institute Advisory Board and is a recipient of the coveted NASA Public Service Award. A graduate of Eastern Washington University, Beagley resides in Merritt Island with his wife Gail.
2004 John "Tip" Talone
NASA’s director of space station payload operations at the Kennedy Space Center, he managed the processing of International Space Station components, science experiments and cargo before the hardware was launched into Earth orbit during a critical year of station assembly.
2003 Adrian Laffitte
Director of Atlas launch operations for Lockheed Martin at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, he oversaw the destruction and rebuilding of complex 41, leading to the successful launch of the Atlas 5, the first Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle to fly.
2002 Rick Abramson
President and chief operating officer of Delaware North Parks Services of Spaceport, Inc., he manages the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for NASA, responsible for educating and inspiring millions of guests each year.
2001 Roy Bridges
A retired Air Force officer and former astronaut who flew in 1985 and later commanded what is now called the 45th Space Wing, he is current director of the Kennedy Space Center.
2000 Ernie Briel
President of BRPH Architect and Engineering Co., with a long history of designing and building space launch facilities at Cape Canaveral dating back to Project Mercury.
1999 Edward A. O'Connor, Jr.
First Executive Director of what is now called the Florida Space Authority, who as an Air Force officer led the shuttle Challenger debris recovery effort and later managed commercial Titan launch operations at Cape Canaveral.
1998 JoAnn Morgan
An associate director of Kennedy Space Center and NASA's first female engineer working at Cape Canaveral.
1997 Dr. Maxwell King
As president of Brevard Community College on Florida's Space Coast, long time community leader and supporter of education programs to benefit the aerospace and technology sectors.
1996 Lee Solid
Vice President and General Manager of Rockwell Florida Operations, responsible for supporting shuttle operations at the Kennedy Space Center following a lengthy career associated with rocket engines used during Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
1995 George Faenza
Vice President and General Manager of McDonnell Douglas Space and Defense Systems at the Kennedy Space Center responsible for preparing shuttle payloads and cargo for launch. He died in 1999.
1994 Robert B. Sieck
Veteran NASA manager who was shuttle launch director at the Kennedy Space Center during the return to flight period following the 1986 Challenger disaster and then was director of all shuttle launch processing and operations before he retired.
1993 Bill Nelson
A longtime U.S. Congressman for Florida's Space Coast who flew aboard shuttle Columbia during January 1986.
1992 Forrest McCartney
A retired three-star Air Force general was director of the Kennedy Space Center during the critical return to flight period following the 1986 Challenger disaster.
1991 Lyle J. Holloway
Long time director of launch operations for McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Co.'s workhorse Delta rocket program at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
1990 George F. Page
Launch director for the first space shuttle mission in 1981, Page retired as a deputy director of the Kennedy Space Center after a long career in launch operations during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. He died in March 2002.