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Three inducted into Colorado Space Heroes Hall of Fame

By: Tony Peck
March 28, 2018 Updated: March 29, 2018 at 6:20 am
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Space Heroes event at the Governors Mansion in Denver (Photo by Thomas Kimmell, Special to The Gazette)

A moon-walking astronaut, a Lockheed Martin president and a NASA engineer were inducted into the Colorado Space Heroes Hall of Fame at an event in Denver on Wednesday.

The Colorado Springs based Space Foundation - along with the Colorado Space Coalition - host the event every year to celebrate past, current and future space leaders and highlight Colorado's central role in the space industry, said the foundation's website.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, who hosted the ceremony at his residence at Boettcher Mansion, called Colorado the "Aerospace State," referring to Colorado's large number of astronauts and jobs in the field.

Quoting physicist and author Stephen Hawking, who died two weeks ago, Hickenlooper told those gathered for the induction, "Always remember, look up at the stars, and not down at your feet."

The three 2017 inductees honored Wednesday are:

- Norman R. Augustine. Raised in Colorado, Augustine attended Princeton University, earning degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering. He joined Martin Marietta in 1977, before becoming president of Lockheed Martin when the companies merged in 1995 and later serving as CEO and chairman. Recently, he was named chairman of the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee, tasked to review NASA's plans for the Moon, Mars and beyond, the foundation said.

"If I deserve any recognition at all its for being born at precisely the right time," he said.

Speaking about space exploration and landing on Mars, he said, "Times wasting, we ought to get on with it."

- Retired Air Force Col. James B. Irwin. Irwin - who died from a heart attack in 1991 - was an astronaut and Air Force pilot. He served as lunar module pilot for Apollo 15 and was the eighth person to walk on the Moon. After his 1972 retirement, Irwin founded the High Flight Foundation in Colorado Springs. Of the 12 men who walked on the Moon, Irwin was the first and youngest of those astronauts to die, the foundation said.

Irwin's daughter, Joyce Irwin-Schtakleff read from her father's reflections after returning to Earth:

On seeing "Spacecraft Earth" from orbit, Irwin wrote, "I could see it as God had seen the Earth," she said. "He loved the state of Colorado. The mountains were home, it was the closest place you could get to space."

- Dr. Merri J. Sanchez. The Colorado native was a senior leader for NASA and the Air Force. Sanchez started with NASA in 1982, where she worked on projects such as the Space Shuttle, International Space Station and X-38. She served as the NASA Liaison to Air Force Space Command, Strategic Command, Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. She currently works with Aerospace Corporation and conducts research for Texas A&M University, the foundation said.

"I was blessed, I entered the space industry at the right time," Sanchez said. "I got to climb all over the shuttle, greet the crews."

In addition to the Colorado Space Heroes Hall of Fame, the Space Foundation - founded March 21, 1983 - is best known for the annual Space Symposium. It also runs the Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs and supports space-based education across the nation.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Denver comes just weeks before the 34th Space Symposium at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs April 16-19.

The symposium has grown from a humble 250 space enthusiasts to more than 11,000 attendees in recent years, according to the symposium website. Key speakers at the April gathering will include Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Secretary General Yulong Tian of the China National Space Administration.

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