T. Kent Pugmire , Standex ETG Technical Representative, was recognized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) as ‘Rocket Scientist’ of the Year with his selection to receive the prestigious 2018 Wyld (Rocket) Propulsion Award.
The annual award honors ‘outstanding achievement in the development or application of rocket propulsion systems’ and is named after James Hart Wyld. Pugmire received the award on July 11, 2018 at the AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Cincinnati, Ohio. The award citation reads: “For pioneering contributions to the design and development in-space propulsion systems including the creation of electro-thermal ammonia/hydrazine propulsion systems used in hundreds of spacecraft.”
The first spacecraft, Sputnik 1 (Dec 1959) and Explorer 1 (Jan 1960) were placed in elliptical orbits with very limited life. Neither had in-space propulsion to control or change position. This quickly led to the development for in-space propulsion. Initially this was accomplished with containers of pressurized nitrogen or helium which had short life and low propulsive efficiency. Within 10 years liquid fueled propulsion was implemented on small, limited mass spacecraft which had only a few watts electric power for communication and instruments.
During this period, Kent Pugmire was developing very low thrust (~.000,001 pounds thrust) liquid fueled ammonia electro-thermal propulsion systems for NASA and the Naval Research Laboratory. These developments provided the first spacecraft based, operational Global Positioning System (GPS). Some ten years later Kent’s developments produced the first operational electric (several kilowatts power) propulsion spacecraft. Use of this electric propulsion extended operational life of communication, weather, DOD spacecraft about 35% over the standard chemical engines in use at that time. Some applications are continuing today (1980s – 2018).
“Another prestigious honor for a longtime friend and colleague,” said Standex ETG’s Rich Morganti, VP Advanced Engineering & Technology. “It is not surprising given Kent’s passion and dedication to the industry. For those of us who have had the opportunity and pleasure to work with Kent, we are very fortunate indeed.”
Pugmire has worked with Spincraft / Standex ETG for 20+ years as Technical Representative and Consultant to the Space Systems market. Members of the ETG team were on hand for the award, joining several of Pugmire’s family members and business associates.
Pugmire was previously recognized by AIAA, having been inducted to the AIAA Class of 2016 Fellows. AIAA Honorary Fellows and Fellows represent the best of the aerospace community. These individuals have advanced the state of the art of aerospace science and technology, making unique contributions to the profession.
AIAA is the largest aerospace professional society in the world, serving a diverse range of more than 30,000 individual members from 88 countries, and 95 corporate members.