He’s never flown into space or designed an intricate guidance system. He’s never launched anything more spectacular than one of those Estes Rockets, the model rockets with the battery-operated launcher he had as a kid.
But Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle’s role as a visionary who supports the critical science and technological aspects of the community has been acknowledged.
He has this ability to think about the education, economic development and the community at large.”
Battle was presented the Community Service Award on Thursday night by the National Space Club/Huntsville at its 26th annual Dr. Wernher von Braun Memorial Dinner at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s Davidson Center.
“It was very easy to choose Mayor Battle,” said Alicia Ryan, CEO of LSINC and the program chair for the event. “For one he’s an amazing leader. He has this ability to think about the education, economic development and the community at large. And some of the things he’s done lately have been very significant.”
In particular, Ryan said, it was Battle as “the driving force” behind the new Cyber Camp that led to this honor. Cyber Camp is a new program at the Space Camp, through a partnership between UAH, Cyber Huntsville and the Space Center, to introduce students to basic cyber skills and hopefully encourage them to enter that field as adults.
“He had the idea, and he had the idea to put it at Space Camp,” Ryan said. “He needs to get full credit for that.”
“He was chosen for a lot of things he’s done in Huntsville recently and since he’s been in office,” said Dr. Lisa Monaco, chairperson of the event. “That’s anything from promoting K-through-12 education, everything he’s done at the Space and Rocket Center and the advocacy he does with our congressional delegation.”
“We all know how important the space industry has been to Huntsville, and all the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields are wrapped up in that. We all need to support that at the grassroots level, in educating our students and the future scientists and engineers of the future, as well as our existing corporate citizens here,” Battle said.
The role of the National Space Club is to “propagate STEM engagement in the community and make sure civilian and military space and rocketry have a good voice in Huntsville,” Monaco said.
Previous winners of the Community Service Award have included Walt Wiesman, Milton Cummings, Roy Nichols, Mayor Loretta Spencer, Ed Buckbee, Larry Capps, Joe Ritch, Deborah Barnhart and Dorothy and Julian Davidson.
“I’m humbled by the honor, and it’s even more humbling to see the names of the past honorees,” Battle said.
The awards dinner caps the week-long Wernher von Braun Symposium. Held on the campus of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the symposium was hosted by the American Astronautical Society and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Discussions about the benefits, challenges and opportunities in advancing space activities, and highlights of recent progress in science, engineering and technology topped the agenda.
Among the speakers at the symposium were Marshall Center Director Todd May and other NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials, including Acting Administrator Robert Light, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier, and Deputy Administrator for Exploration Systems Development Bill Hill.