Gerald “Gerry” Griffin, former NASA Apollo Flight Director and Director of the Johnson Space Center, is the fourth person to receive the 2024 RNASA Corona Award in it’s 37-year history.
Release from Houston, Texas (February 8, 2024)
The Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) Foundation has selected Gerald “Gerry” Griffin, former NASA Apollo Flight Director and Director of the Johnson Space Center, to receive the 2024 Corona Award. Griffin will be the fourth recipient of the distinguished award in RNASA’s 37-year history. The banquet honoring Griffin and other RNASA awards recipients will be held on April 26, 2024 at the Downtown Hyatt Regency in Houston, Texas.
The Corona Award was created to recognize the achievement of America’s brightest space explorers. The award is presented only when the RNASA Foundation deems that exceptional merit and opportunity require it. The three previous honorees include Dr. Robert Gilruth in 1992, Captain John Young in 1997, and Walter Cronkite in 1999.
Griffin was nominated for the award by former NASA Flight Director Eugene Kranz and Griffin Communications Group President Jeffrey Carr. In his nomination letter, Carr wrote, “From the trenches of Gemini flight control to Apollo, Shuttle, classrooms and the halls of Congress, Gerry’s legacy of service and leadership is unrivaled, and it is due time for this recognition with the Corona Award.”
Griffin joined NASA’s Johnson Space Center in 1964 as a flight controller, specializing in guidance, navigation, and control systems for the Gemini and, later, the Apollo programs. In 1968, he was selected as Flight Director for Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission. He went on to serve on all nine manned missions to the moon, including the six lunar landings. Gerry served as Lead Flight Director for Apollo 12, 15, and 17. As Flight Director he orchestrated a Mission Control team of flight controllers, engineers, and specialists who controlled the missions from liftoff to splashdown.
Griffin said of his award, “I am in good company with the three prior recipients of this prestigious award. All three are forever icons in the domain of human space exploration, and it is very humbling to be considered worthy of standing beside them in the aura of the Corona Award.”
After the Apollo program drew to a close in 1972, Gerry was summoned to NASA Headquarters where he was appointed Assistant Administrator for Legislative Affairs. In this role he led NASA’s efforts with the Congress to fund the agency’s programs in aeronautics and space, especially for the fledgling Space Shuttle Program. He was later named Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Operations, a role in which he was responsible for developing operations policies for the shuttle. In 1976, he transferred to the Dryden Flight Research Center in California as Deputy Director. There, he worked on a series of test flights that would provide key data for the shuttle’s landing operations. He was then Deputy Director of the Kennedy Space Center from 1977 through the launch of the first Space Shuttle from Cape Canaveral on April 12, 1981. In 1982 he was named as the third Director of the Johnson Space Center. Gerry retired from NASA in 1986
Since 1986, he has served in a myriad of private industry roles including CEO of the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce where he worked with local business leaders to create an expanded economy built on a foundation of aerospace, medicine and biotechnology. In addition, he has served in numerous private sector leadership roles including Managing Director of Korn/Ferry-Houston Office, Chairman of the Board of Comarco, Inc., Chairman of the Board of Golden Spike Company, and advisory board member for Aegis Aerospace.
Gerry continues to be a tireless advocate for the future of space exploration. He has made hundreds of speeches and appearances around the globe, promoting the past, present, and future of space. He injects clarity into a complex topic, thereby fueling enthusiasm for continued development. He is a true ambassador to the American space program.
Griffin is the recipient of numerous honors including the Space Pioneer Award, NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal, NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the Apollo XIII Mission Operations Team. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Astronomical Society, and the British Interplanetary Society. In addition, he is a member of Schreiner University’s Board of Trustees, and is a former member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board appointed by Governor George W. Bush. Gerry holds a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Texas A&M University and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
Public and the aerospace community are invited to attend the black-tie event.
The RNASA Foundation invites members of the public and the aerospace community to attend the black-tie event on April 26, 2024, at the Houston Hyatt Regency, where Mr. Griffin will be presented with the Corona Award during the 36th annual RNASA Space Awards gala. Please visit rnasa.org to reserve your table, purchase tickets, or inquire about sponsorship opportunities. If you would also like to reserve a room for the evening, please contact the Hyatt at +1 713-654-1234 and inquire about the RNASA group rate.