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October 11, 2023                                                                                          

Space Club to Honor Annual Award Winners at Celebrate Space Banquet

The National Space Club, Florida Committee, will recognize the achievements of 18 space industry leaders during the organization’s annual Celebrate Space awards banquet on 13 October. The Space Club will honor recipients of its Lifetime Achievement awards, Rising Star awards, Kolcum News & Communications awards, and additions to Florida’s Space Worker Hall of Fame.

The slate of award winners for 2023 includes the following honorees, nominated by their peers and selected after a months-long review process administered by multiple Space Club committees:

Lifetime Achievement Awards

Arthur Cleveland Waite, PE, has worked as a structural engineer in Florida’s aerospace industry for more than 40 years. He spent 34 years of his career at BRPH, retiring as Director of Aerospace and a principal in 2020, and remains a valued consultant for the firm. Art specialized in planning and design for complex projects at launch facilities on the Space Coast and around the U.S. His vast portfolio of work at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport includes major modifications to space transportation infrastructure, including Launch Complex 39A and B, the VAB, Complex 17, and many other facilities.

Early in his career, Art helped foster the next generation of engineers as a graduate teaching assistant and adjunct faculty member at Florida Institute of Technology. He worked at Pan Am World Services from 1982 to 1984 and for EG&G Florida from 1984 to 1986. Art was a longtime member of National Space Club and served as a featured speaker at numerous national and international space events. He served on the NSCFL board from 2010 to 2020. He currently resides in Grant, Florida, with his wife, Pat.

Billy Haynes Childers spent 31 years supporting the U.S. space program, including Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle, with 27 years at Kennedy Space Center. He received numerous NASA Special Achievement Awards including the prestigious NASA Public Service Medal in 1975, 1976, and 1981, holding various positions in NASA management, including as the Division Chief for Facilities, Communications, and Computer Systems. Billy later joined Lockheed Martin as the Director of Operations and Maintenance for all Shuttle Launch Facilities, managing over 1,100 personnel.

Billy was an active member of the National Management Society (a predecessor to the NSCFL), networking and mentoring young and upcoming professionals, hosting conferences, and serving in educational speaking engagements on the Apollo and Shuttle programs. Billy is best remembered for his leadership abilities and his ability to remain calm, logical, and a voice of reason during discussions of complex engineering issues, strategic direction, and policy/process concerns. Retired for 23 years, Billy resides with his wife of 62 years, Alene, in Ball Ground, Georgia.

Rising Star Awards

Sara Karimi joined Aerodyne as an Electrical Engineer in 2017. She quickly advanced to Manager of Simulation Development and Integration, then again to her current role as Senior Manager of Simulation and Control Systems Applications on the Consolidated Operations, Management, Engineering and Test (COMET) contract. She currently leads a team of 75 engineers at the cutting edge of technology for Artemis command and control. She has won Aerodyne’s President’s Award and NASA Group Achievement awards. Sara earned degrees from the University of Florida and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Kelly Lai McGuire joined Boeing in 2015 as a Structural and Payload Design Engineer, responsible for Ground and Production Support Equipment for the Space Launch System. She currently wears multiple hats, ranging from Lead Design Engineer to the GSE/PSE team, subject matter expert for the production and installation of the Main Propulsion System, Integration Lead for future core stage tools, and Lead Vehicle Design Engineer for the Chief Engineer’s office. She’s been involved in Boeing’s Asian Professional Association and Boeing’s Women in Leadership, and now chairs REACH KSC, focusing on community service, and networking. Kelly earned an aerospace engineering degree from the University of Central Florida.

Kolcum News & Communications Awards

Rebecca Burgman is the Senior Manager of Communications and Public Relations at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, where she manages the team that develops messaging, press materials, social media content, and media relationships on and off site. Born and raised in Titusville, Rebecca is an active member of the community, currently serving on the board of directors of we VENTURE, Health First Foundation board of trustees, and is past president of the Junior League of South Brevard. She is also a member of the Space Coast Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association.

Robert Pearlman is a journalist, historian, and founder/editor of, a publication devoted to space history with a focus on how space intersects with pop culture. He is a contributing writer for and co-author of Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space. He previously developed content for the National Space Society and Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures, and serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society. Robert was inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, and received the American Astronautical Society’s Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.

Space Worker Hall of Fame

Patrick Adkins began his aerospace career in the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Ordnance Aircrewman in VP-62 anti-submarine maritime patrol squadron. He joined the space program in 1985 as a Quality Assurance Inspector for the Space Shuttle, supporting 117 flights until the end of the program with STS-135 in 2011. Patrick served as a member of the Mishap Investigation Team of first responders in Texas after the loss of Columbia and its crew. He has supported 29 uncrewed launch campaigns and has served as a Quality Assurance Specialist for the Artemis program.

Teresa Annulis is a 2nd generation KSC worker, with a sister and two sons also working there. Since the 1960s, her family has supported the Mercury and Apollo programs. Her career began as a Fuel Cell & Power Reaction System Distribution (PRSD) engineer. She transitioned to Test Conductor in 1990, serving as Landing Lead and Responsible Organization Representative (ROR) for launch countdown operations, and as OTC for seven Space Shuttle launches. She has supported the Artemis program with management and problem solving for launch pad integration.

Tom Clark began his career in Marine Corps aviation, which led to a position with Lockheed at Vandenberg in 1984 as a cryogenic technician for the Space Shuttle’s West Coast program. Tom advanced into engineering and transferred to KSC, where he held leadership positions in support of over 100 Space Shuttle launches. Tom joined ERC in 2013 and in 2017 and was promoted to manage cryogenic and pneumatic systems. In 2021 he was promoted to Senior Manager for Propulsion and Avionics. He recently transitioned to the COMET contract, working for Aerodyne.

Randal Coppola retired from the Army and transitioned to Brevard County as a docent at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Museum. He used the GI Bill to learn media production and began making space-related historical videos showcasing the Cape’s culture and technological achievements. Randal provides context for hundreds of visitors to the spaceport’s historical sites and has shared videos and discussion of the Cape’s history at venues throughout Florida, from libraries to nursing homes. He worked to add a Space History section to the Cape Canaveral Library, and spent hundreds of hours assisting in the Space Force Museum Archives.

Eric Duffin has supported the Space Shuttle, ISS, and Artemis programs at KSC for 36 years. With degrees in Applied Physics, Computer Science, and Space Technology, he led pivotal engineering and design teams during his KSC career, focusing on Solid Rocket Booster testing, thrust vector control systems, SRB retrieval operations for the Space Shuttle, and systems within the Space Station Processing Facility. He joined Aerodyne under the TOSC contract, leading Artemis Flight Avionics, Communications and Tracking through the successful launch of Artemis I in 2022.

Ira Erteschik began working for Martin Marietta at KSC in 1981 on the Space Shuttle External Tank Thermal Protection System. He transitioned to Lockheed Martin and United Space Alliance as an ET TPS Engineer and Orbiter Project Engineer. Ira managed the Shuttle/Payload Project Engineering organization from 1999 through the end of the Shuttle program, and then joined Jacobs to manage the Requirements & Process Integration organization on the TOSC and COMET contracts, supporting Exploration Ground Systems, Space Launch System, Orion, ISS, and the Launch Services Program (LSP).

Joe Hamilton began his career at MIT Draper Lab working on the Apollo and Poseidon guidance systems; he also performed structural analysis on Hubble Space Telescope designs. At Northrop he was responsible for mechanical design and structural/thermal analysis for a military Space Shuttle mission. Joe started working at KSC in 1990 performing reliability and independent assessments for the ISS and various Shuttle systems, working for United Space Alliance safety and mission assurance. For the last 15 years Joe has been a member of the NASA Flight Pressure Systems team.

Marianne Idzi has devoted 40 years to supporting our nation’s space programs in the Air Force and at aerospace contractors. Her career began in 1984 with the Air Force supporting launch, early orbit, and monitoring operations of the GPS constellation. She advanced at the Eastern Range to become a Range Control Officer and Range Operations Director in support of 35 DoD, NASA, commercial launches. Marianne served at the Pentagon, working to integrate space control requirements into operational baselines and war-fighting support plans. Currently at Aerodyne, she supports NASA’s International Space Station and Launch Services Program.

Brent Maney spent 29 years of federal service between active duty and civil service. He supported the Space Shuttle as an Air Force pararescue man in the late 1990s. He also trained joint special operations and medical forces around the world. Brent currently acts as the Department of Defense human spaceflight support, medical plans, and programs manager, where he coordinates medical support around the globe for rescue, recovery, and medical evacuation of NASA and NASA-sponsored astronauts in the new era of human spaceflight.

Shelby Roberts has been part of NASA’s human spaceflight program since 1988. He started at KSC as an Orbiter Airframe Engineer before transitioning to the Liquid Oxygen (LOX) Engineering group in 1996, advancing to LOX System Lead Engineer. Shelby played a role in 109 Shuttle missions, maintaining a leadership role as he transitioned into Artemis. For Artemis, his group re-certified the LOX systems at Launch Pad 39B, performed verification and validation of the new Mobile Launcher systems, and developed new cryogenic loading procedures for the launch campaign. Shelby was honored with numerous awards including the Launch Director’s Hall of Fame award.

Ed Sikora started at KSC with Rockwell International just after STS-3 with the Space Shuttle Main Engine Group. He worked as Application Software Team Lead developing scripts to support MPS/Engine Console Operators. Edward earned an MS in Computer Science from Florida Tech (having previously obtaining a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Florida) and an MBA from Webster University while working toward the close of the Space Shuttle program as a System Specialist. His career path led him through QinetiQ, Vencore, and currently ERC, where he supports the TOSC/COMET contract and the Artemis program.

Josh Sterritt began his career at KSC in 1979 as a propulsion engineer, advancing through various technical leadership positions, culminating with Principal Engineer for Space Shuttle Cryogenic Propulsion in 1998. He supported 124 of the 135 Space Shuttle missions from the propulsion console in the Prime Firing Room. Following Shuttle retirement, John worked within the Ground Operations Capabilities contract providing cryogenic expertise for the Space Launch System (SLS). In 2013, he transitioned to the TOSC and then COMET contracts, continuing to support Artemis as the SLS Main Propulsion Systems Specialist.

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