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Wed, Sep 13, 2023

Robert Crippen to Receive 2023 Wright Trophy

Renowned Naval Aviator and NASA Astronaut Honored

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) will present 2023’s prestigious Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy to retired U.S. Navy Captain Robert “Crip” Crippen.

Captain Crippen is to be recognized for his devotion to public service and dedication to both humankind’s future and the advancement of American aerospace as manifest in his lifetime achievements as an aviator, astronaut, and leader.

Born 11 September 1937, Crippen earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin before undertaking the rigorous U.S. Navy Aviation Officer Program. As a Navy pilot, Crippen flew Douglas A-4 Skyhawk ground attack jets off the aircraft carrier USS Independence (CV-62).

Subsequently, Crippen attended the United States Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at California’s Edwards Air Force Base. Upon successfully completing the curriculum, he took a flight instructor role at Edwards before being selected in June 1966 to join the second group of astronauts chosen by the Air Force for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program.

In 1981, Crippen was chosen to pilot STS-1, the first orbital space-flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program; his NASA career comprised numerous firsts, including commanding the first EVA satellite refueling mission (STS-41G).

NAA board chair Jim Albaugh stated: “For the last forty-years the name Bob Crippen has been synonymous with Human Space Flight. From his and John Young’s STS-1 flight, which ushered in the Space Shuttle Era, to his leadership of the KCS, to his running of Thiokol, a major space contractor, Bob has contributed mightily to our country’s space programs. Beyond his formal roles, Bob has worked tirelessly as an advocate for technology, space travel, and exploration. Bob’s body of work clearly merits this recognition.”In 1990, Crippen was named Space Shuttle Director at NASA Headquarters. Thereafter, he served as Director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, providing leadership to over 13,000 civil service and contract personnel. Post-NASA, Crippen worked at Lockheed Martin as the famed aerospace marque’s VP for Simulation and Training Systems. In 1996, he became President of Thiokol Propulsion, which was responsible for producing the Shuttle Reusable Solid Rocket Motors.

NAA president and CEO Greg Principato remarked: “Bob Crippen embodies the criteria of this trophy, the most significant individual award in American aviation. His service and achievements will endure as long as aviation does. His devotion to service is unsurpassed. His selection honors the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy and all it stands for.”

Established by NAA in 1948 to honor the memory of Orville and Wilbur Wright, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to a living American deemed to have demonstrated significant public service of enduring value to the U.S. aerospace sector. The trophy defines a timeline of air and space’s most innovative, brave, brilliant, and forward-thinking.

Characteristically humble, Crippen set forth: "I am indeed honored by this recognition and to have my name enshrined along with the great recipients of the past. Everything I have been privileged to accomplish has been as a team member with some great people."

Crippen will be presented the Wright Trophy at the Aero Club of Washington’s 75th Annual Wright Memorial Dinner on 15 December 2023.

Founded in 1905 as the Aero Club of America (ACA) by members of the Automobile Club of America, the organization known today as the National Aeronautic Association of the United States (NAA) is the oldest national aviation club in the United States and one of the oldest in the world. The non-profit association’s mission statement is "…dedicated to the advancement of the art, sport, and science of aviation in the United States.”



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