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The Heinlein Prize

The Heinlein Prize is awarded worldwide for accomplishments in commercial space activities. 


The Prize honors the memory of Robert A. Heinlein™, a renowned American author. Both Robert and his wife Virginia were strong advocates of human advancement into space through commercial endeavors. 


The purpose of the Heinlein Prize is to encourage and reward accomplishments in commercial space activities that advance Robert and his wife Virginia’s dream of humanity's future in space.  The Heinlein Prize for Accomplishments in Commercial Space Activities is an international award and it is awarded to individuals, not companies or governments. 

The Heinlein Award

The Heinlein Prize is awarded  to recognize space-tested technologies that can benefit commercial space activities.


Daniel O’Shaughnessy, an engineer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, has been named the first recipient of the Heinlein Award for his development of a spacecraft navigational technique that makes use of solar radiation pressure to control a spacecraft.


O'Shaughnessy, serving as MESSENGER's Guidance and Control Lead Engineer worked with the MESSENGER team to fine-tune the spacecraft’s trajectory toward Mercury by controlling the angle of the panels so the solar force would move the spacecraft in the required direction. This allowed the spacecraft to adjust its trajectory more precisely without the risk inherent in using a propulsive maneuver. Using radiation pressure to make small course corrections also conserved propellant,helping to extend the life of the mission.

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