AAE alumni recognized by NASA for contributions to Demo-2 mission

Robert Bayt, Adam Butt and David Forrest received awards.
NASA launch
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard on May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

AAE alumni had their fingerprints all over one of the most significant moments in human spaceflight in 2020.

Several were recognized by NASA in January for their contributions that directly resulted in May’s successful Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station.

The Demo-2 Agency Honor Awards Ceremony, held virtually, highlighted individuals and teams who played a crucial role in the beginning of a new era of human spaceflight. When SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carried NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, on May 30, it was the first crewed mission that launched American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil to low-Earth orbit since 2011. The mission to the ISS served as a critical final flight test of the SpaceX crew transportation system, NASA said.

Jim Bridenstine, who was NASA Administrator at the time of the launch, called the moment “an important step on our path to expand human exploration to the Moon and Mars.”

Robert Bayt

AAE alumnus Robert Bayt received the Distinguished Service Medal for “exceptional leadership developing, implementing, and managing the Verification & Validation efforts for the Commercial Crew Program for the SpaceX Demonstration Mission-2,” according to NASA. The medal is NASA’s highest form of recognition, awarded to a Government employee who, by distinguished service, ability or vision has personally contributed to NASA’s advancement of the United States’ interests.

Bayt (BSAAE ’93, MSAAE ’95), who has been the requirements lead and verification and validation manager for the Commercial Crew for 10 years at Johnson Space Center, had a hand in certifying SpaceX to carry NASA astronauts.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work with SpaceX and the amazing NASA Team to achieve this historic moment during difficult times,” Bayt said. “I look forward to future Commercial Partnerships that will take us back to the Moon and on to Mars.”

Adam Butt (BSAAE ’01, MSAAE ’05), at Marshall Space Flight Center, was awarded an Outstanding Leadership Medal for “exceptional technical leadership for the certification of the Commercial Crew SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Vehicle enabling the successful launch of Demo-2,” NASA said.

Johnson Space Center’s David Forrest (BSAAE ’88) received an Exceptional Achievement Medal for his “exceptional technical leadership as Chair of the Commercial Crew Program Safety Technical Review Board” for the SpaceX DM-2 mission.