Webb Space Telescope Team Earns Collier Trophy

Northrop Grumman Corp. accepts the highest honor in aviation at National Aeronautic Association’s annual dinner.

Kathy Warden, chair, chief executive officer and president, Northrop Grumman received the 2022 Robert J. Collier Trophy. [Credit: Northrop Grumman]

The Robert J. Collier Trophy, the highest honor in aviation, was presented to the James Webb Space Telescope industry team Thursday night in Washington.

Kathy Warden, chair, president, and chief executive officer of Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) accepted the 2022 award on behalf of the company at the annual National Aeronautic Association (NAA) Collier Dinner.

“The James Webb Space Telescope is an act of collective genius,” said Warden. “Running towards the hardest challenges—proving what we can do together—is what we do every day. Webb has ushered in a new era in human discovery, and it is my privilege to accept this prestigious award tonight on behalf of our Northrop Grumman team.”

The telescope was launched aboard an Ariane 5 ECA rocket on Christmas morning in 2021. Over the next several weeks, the team made the Webb operational, unfolding its sunshield and mirrors in a series of complex deployments and maneuvers. According to the team, this was a first-of-its-kind event ever attempted in space, After achieving its final configuration, the team made a series of adjustments to bring the telescope’s optical train into precise alignment. The team then tested the scientific instruments, bringing them to operational temperature to begin Webb’s science mission.

The successful deployment was years in the making.

Since 1911, the Collier Trophy has been recognized as the highest achievement in aerospace and astronautics in America, recognizing the work of a team or individual for the previous year. Past recipients of the trophy include Orville Wright (1911), Howard Hughes (1938), Neil Armstrong (1969), the B-2 (1991), Global Hawk (2000), SpaceShipOne (2004), and the X-47B (2013).

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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