Dawn Program Team Receives 2015 Collier Trophy

Artist's concept of Dawn above Ceres around the time it was captured into orbit by the dwarf planet in early March. Since its arrival, the spacecraft turned around to point the blue glow of its ion engine in the opposite direction. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Artist’s concept of Dawn above Ceres around the time it was captured into orbit by the dwarf planet in early March. Since its arrival, the spacecraft turned around to point the blue glow of its ion engine in the opposite direction. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON, DC, March 9, 2016 (NAA PR) – The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced last evening at their Spring Awards Dinner that the NASA/JPL Dawn Program Team has been named as the recipient of the 2015 Robert J. Collier Trophy “In recognition of the extraordinary achievements of orbiting and exploring protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, and advancing the nation’s technological capabilities in pioneering new frontiers in space travel.”

The Collier Selection Committee, comprised of 32 individuals from throughout the aerospace industry, met earlier in the day to listen to presentations from nine nominees.

The Collier Trophy is awarded annually “…for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.” The list of Collier recipients
represents a timeline of air and space achievements, marking major events in the history of flight.

“The Committee reviewed very strong nominations from throughout the aviation and space industry – commercial, military, general aviation, space, and even ballooning,” said Jim Albaugh, Chairman of NAA. “Any one of them would have been a worthy Collier Trophy Recipient, and I want to congratulate our colleagues at NASA and JPL on their great accomplishment with the Dawn Program.”

Other nominees for the 2015 Collier Trophy were:

  • Airbus A350 XWB
  • Blue Origin
  • New Shepard Team
  • C- 5M Super Galaxy
  • HA-420 HondaJet
  • ICON A5
  • New Horizons Project Team
  • Two Eagles Balloon Team
  • UCAS-D Autonomous Aerial Refueling Demonstration

Jonathan Gaffney, President and CEO of NAA, managed the selection process. “This was one of the strongest lists of Collier nominations NAA has seen in the past decade, and all who participated in the process can be very proud of their work. I particularly want to thank our Chairman and Selection Committee for all the time and effort they put into this most important and historic task.”

  • Jim Albaugh, Chairman of NAA/Chairman of the Collier Selection Committee
  • Ali Bahrami, Aerospace Industries Association
  • Mark Baker, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
  • David Balloff, Embraer
  • Bob Brown, Academy of Model Aeronautics
  • Steve Brown, National Business Aviation Association
  • Steve Callaghan, Chairman of the NAA Events Committee
  • Brian Chase, Bell Helicopter/Textron Aviation
  • Leda Chong, Gulfstream
  • David Coleal, Bombardier
  • Jack Dailey, Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum
  • Debbie Gann, Spirit AeroSystems
  • Randall Greene, Safe Flight Instrument Corp.
  • T. C. Jones, Northrop Grumman
  • Tim Keating, Boeing
  • John S. Langford, Aurora Flight Sciences
  • Dr. Samantha Magill, Honda Aircraft Company
  • Sandy Magnus, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Ken McKenzie, Airbus Group
  • David Manke, United Technologies Corporation
  • Mary Miller, BBA Aviation
  • Ken Panos, Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Steve Plummer, Rolls-Royce North America
  • Peter Prowitt, General Electric Aviation
  • Skip Ringo, The Ringo Group
  • Jean Rosanvallon, Dassault Falcon
  • Bob Rubino, Lockheed Martin
  • John Stammreich, Aero Club of Southern California
  • Robert Sturgell, Rockwell Collins
  • Max Trescott, Aero Club of Northern California
  • Mark Van Tine, Jeppesen
  • Bruce Whitman, FlightSafety International

The Collier Trophy will be formally presented at the Annual Robert J. Collier Trophy Dinner on June 9, 2016 at a location to be determined. For ticket information
or to view a complete list of previous recipients of the Collier Trophy, please visit

The National Aeronautic Association is a non-profit, membership organization devoted to fostering America’s aerospace leadership and promoting public understanding of the importance of aviation and space flight to the United States.

  • TimR

    So much for my “hands down win” for New Horizon. 🙂 Barring any biases or politics, Dawn has just a few months remaining in its mission whereas NH is ongoing, downlinking data and moving on to another target. They can award New Horizon this year. 🙂 Dawn was primarily a test of ion propulsion and its payload of instruments was very modest. It should have been a close vote. New Horizon’s orchestration of instrument observations, the suite of instruments on board with limited bandwidth was truly remarkable and they had just one chance to get it right. To travel the distance to Pluto, maintain such a craft and payload, then setup the proper and exact sequence for observing several bodies orbiting each other, was a great feat. Dawn proved the effectiveness and durability of NSTAR ion prop from Glenn. Scientists have squeezed blood out of the turnip of instruments on board.

  • Vladislaw

    Congrats to the Dawn team. Chased to two bodies in space and successfully orbited both and returned fantastic imagery. Good job..

  • Vladislaw

    I believe next year will be hands down for NH. There will be a lot more papers completed by then.