This site requires JavaScript in order to function properly. Please enable it for the best experience.
Small Satellite Conference

Lifetime Achievement

For contributions of outstanding significance to the Small Satellite community
Nominate an Award Recipient

Dr. Rudolph “Rudy” Panholzer

Presented: August 2023

View Award Video

This special merit is awarded to Dr. Rudolph “Rudy” Panholzer in recognition of his considerable contributions of outstanding significance to the small satellite community over the course of his distinguished career. 

Over his more than 50 year career with the Naval Postgraduate School, Rudy’s life-long devotion to education and innovation has touched the lives of hundreds of students who now help to lead our industry, and Rudy is truly one of the cornerstones of the small satellite revolution.  His service is remarkable, not only for its longevity, but also for its impact on students and faculty. 

Rudy was an early adopter in the use of small satellites for hands-on education and research – and in 1986, Rudy helped to put together the very first conference focused on small satellites.  It was held at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey California and was called Lightsat conference.  Lightsat had a great turnout, which helped to inspire and get the ball rolling for the next year, in 1987, when the first SmallSat Conference was held here in Logan.  Rudy attended that conference, and until Covid, Rudy never missed a single SmallSat conference, he was there cheering us on all along the way.  And over the years we have tried, as best we could, to continue to make SmallSat the valuable tool for the community that Rudy once envisioned. 

For almost 30 years, Rudy Chaired the Naval Postgraduate School’s Space Systems Academic Group where he led and nurtured a program that educated hundreds of students in Space Systems Engineering and operations who would go on to fill leadership roles within the Department of Defense, NASA, and numerous other organizations. Notable graduates of his program include Mr. Robert Work, formerly the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Mr. Carlos del Toro who is currently serving as the Secretary of the Navy.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting

Presented: August 2023

View Award Video

This special merit is awarded to Professor Sir Martin Sweeting in recognition of his considerable contributions of outstanding significance to the small satellite community over the course of his distinguished career. 

With over 40 years of service to the space industry, Martin has become an icon across the small satellite community, and for good reason.  He has helped lead the growth of our community with his skills as a thought leader, entrepreneur, innovator, and educator.  His technical breadth and depth, and his passion for small satellite technologies and mission capabilities compound his overall contributions to the broader space community.

The growing demand for small satellites has been fueled by the promise of responsive timelines, affordability, and more frequent access to space – all attributes that Martin has worked to promote and develop throughout his career.  By leveraging commercially available electronics and components to build small satellites, and by graciously sharing his knowledge with the community, his efforts have helped change the economics of Space.

As Founder and Executive Chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, and Chairman & Distinguished Professor at the Surrey Space Center, he has been instrumental in founding, growing, and successfully leading the operation of a sustainable commercial small satellite business.  Martin paved the way for dozens of commercial space organizations who now operate small satellites in orbit, provide launch, ground, and data analytic services today.  Martins efforts have had monumental and far-reaching effect on the small satellite community – and his service has been truly inspiring.  While impossible to precisely determine how his efforts have positively affected the small satellite industry, he has certainly been a pioneering force and technical leader throughout.

Professor Robert Twiggs

Presented: August 2022

View Award Video

This special merit is awarded to Professor Robert “Bob” Twiggs in recognition of his considerable contributions of outstanding significance to the small satellite community over the course of his distinguished career. His life-long devotion to education and innovation has touched the lives of hundreds of students and is one of the cornerstones of the CubeSat revolution.

After starting his career in the Air Force and aerospace industry, Professor Twiggs turned his talents to academia. At Weber State University he introduced the concept of using small satellites as teaching tools. He carried on that approach to Stanford University where he led the development of the SAPPHIRE and OPAL microsatellites. Inspired by the OPAL picosatellite payload, but frustrated by the lengthy development process, he proposed a simpler satellite – one small enough to fit in the palm of one hand. This would eventually culminate in the creation of the CubeSat standard under which hundreds of satellites have been developed worldwide by industry, academia, and government. Not one to stand still, he went on to develop PocketQubes, CricketSats, ThinSats and other ideas meant to educate future engineers.

Today, graduates of Professor Twiggs’ laboratories and second generation graduates taught by his former students have leadership roles in NASA, research universities, major aerospace companies, and small New Space startups.

Professor Twiggs’ approach for hands-on learning through the use of small satellites is the embodiment of Benjamin Franklin’s statement, “Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This award goes to Professor Bob Twiggs in honor of the countless students he inspired and the industry he helped create.

Mr. Gerry Murphy

Presented: August 2021

View Award Video

This special merit is awarded to Gerry Murphy in recognition of his considerable contributions of outstanding significance to the small satellite community over the course of his distinguished career. In a Small Satellite Conference first, we are presenting this award posthumously to Gerry Murphy who left us this past year. The Small Satellite Community as a whole will certainly miss our very dear friend.

Gerry Murphy, or “Murph’s”, service to the community was truly inspiring, he had a real and positive impact on the careers of many. Throughout the industry “Murph” was an icon, he was inspiring and energetic; he mentored junior engineers his entire career; and was really committed to educating the next generation of space professionals. His achievements are almost too numerous to mention but in short, early in his career he taught high school science and math, he later went on to form Design Net Engineering and he was a critical part of the team that developed SPA, Space Plug and Play Architecture. He also led the development of Avionics for the Modular Space Vehicle which was the first operational satellite that flew SPA, and he developed a rideshare adapter for SpaceX.

Recently a scholarship program was set up in his honor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. This award goes to Gerry for the contributions he has made to our entire industry and for the lives he has touched and made better.

Mr. Raymond Gilbert “Gil” Moore

Presented: August 2020

View Award Video

This special merit is awarded to Professor Raymond Gilbert “Gil” Moore in recognition of his considerable contributions of outstanding significance to the small satellite community over the course of his distinguished career.  As noted by many throughout our industry, the service provided by Mr. Moore to the small satellite community has had a far-reaching effect as he has played a considerable role in its significant growth.

With over 70 years of experience in the aerospace industry, Mr. Moore has played significant roles in the development and launch of numerous sounding rockets, upper atmospheric balloons, the Space Shuttle, solar-terrestrial physics research campaigns, and small satellites.  Mr. Moore is a strong proponent for research and education, providing hands-on training and mentorship opportunities to tens of thousands of students through small satellite projects including “Get Away Special” experiments aboard NASA’s Space Shuttles, and Project Starshine which involved students from hundreds of schools across 40 countries.

Mr. Moore was one of the founders of the Small Satellite Conference, which brings the world’s community of small satellite developers together annually to share lessons learned and innovative concepts.  Even today, 35 years after its inception, many of the attributes of the Conference owe their beginnings to Mr. Moore.

As a pioneering force and technical leader throughout the small satellite community for decades, Mr. Moore has continually distinguished himself as one of the community’s leading champions.

Mr. Steven J. Buckley

Presented: August 2010

This special merit is awarded to Mr. Steven J. Buckley in recognition of his considerable contributions of outstanding significance to the small satellite community over the course of his distinguished career. As has been noted by many throughout our community, Mr. Buckley’s commitment to the vital role of “small space” stands out among space pioneers and technical experts. 

While serving for over 35 years in the aerospace industry, Mr. Buckley has performed major roles in acquisition, launch operations, test and evaluation, risk management/mitigation, vulnerabilities assessments, and technology development.  Mr. Buckley has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments including the planning and conducting of over 50 air-to-air missile or small launch missions, as well as over 550 test and evaluation flight test campaigns.  Mr. Buckley played critical roles during the development and launch of many programs including AMRAAM, Minuteman II, OSP/Minotaur, Taurus, Pegasus XL, Scorpius, Falcon 1, Falcon 9, the Merlin Engine, and Raptor.  Through his outstanding efforts, Mr. Buckley has enabled space access for hundreds of future missions.

Of significance is Mr. Buckley’s positive influence and impact on the next generation through his mentoring of countless junior engineers as he worked tirelessly to educate eager engineers on the intricacies of space flight.

With his phenomenal record of achievement in space transportation, small launch vehicle development, and technical prowess, Mr. Buckley has had monumental and far-reaching effect on the Small Satellite Community.