John Casani and C. Gordon Fullerton Receive the National Air and Space Museum’s 2009 Trophy Awards

April 30, 2009
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The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Lifetime Achievement, the museum’s highest honor, has been awarded for the first time to two distinguished recipients, John R. Casani and C. Gordon Fullerton.

In a career spanning five decades at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Casani’s work has affected discoveries on every major planet. He served as chief engineer or project manager on pioneering deep-space programs from Mariner missions to Voyager, Galileo and Cassini. At the very genesis of robotic planetary exploration, he mastered the challenges of designing craft to perform tasks never before attempted. His leadership and engineering expertise have advanced knowledge of the solar system through missions that have yielded increasingly detailed—and beautiful—images and data.

Fullerton has concurrently fulfilled three distinguished careers in aeronautics and spaceflight, each one remarkable. He retired with the rank of colonel from a 30-year career in the U.S. Air Force in 1988 after serving as a bomber pilot and research-test pilot. At the same time, he spent 20 years as an astronaut in the Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs. Then, for more than 20 years, he was a flight-research pilot at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. Fullerton has logged more than 380 hours in spaceflight and more than 16,000 hours of flight time in 135 different aircraft. His work in federal service spanning 50 years has significantly affected the intellectual aerospace community and ordinary travelers. A consummate pilot, Fullerton is recognized for his lifelong contributions to flight airworthiness and safety and to the exacting and dangerous field of flight research. 

The 2009 winners received their awards at a private evening ceremony at the National Air and Space Museum building in Washington April 29. Established in 1985, the award recognizes outstanding achievements in the fields and history of aerospace science and technology. As in past years, trophy winners receive a miniature version of “The Web of Space,” a sculpture by artist John Safer. The 2009 National Air and Space Museum Trophy event was made possible through the support of Safe Flight Instrument Corp.

More information about the National Air and Space Museum Trophy and a complete list of past winners are available at

The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

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