Kennedy Space Center, Fla., (Aug. 29, 2012) – NASA presented United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vice President of Mission Operations James Sponnick with its highest form of recognition to a non-government individual, the Distinguished Public Service Medal, at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Honor Awards.

The Distinguished Public Service Medal recognizes an individual’s achievement or contribution who demonstrates a level of excellence that has made a profound or indelible impact to NASA mission success and the contribution is so extraordinary that other forms of recognition by NASA would be inadequate.

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana presented the award to Sponnick for his unparalleled commitment to launching five NASA missions in the latter six months of 2011 from both Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California.

“I appreciate the leadership and teamwork demonstrated by Jim, shown everyday by the outstanding performance of the ULA team in providing launch services for NASA's important science missions,” said Amanda Mitskevich, program manager, NASA Launch Service Program.

As stated in the nomination, Sponnick’s focus on attaining perfect product delivery, mission success and continuous improvement continues to be critical to the Agency and for the success of current and future NASA science programs.

The five NASA missions in 2011 included Aquarius launched on a Delta II from VAFB on June 10, Juno launched on an Atlas V from CCAFS on Aug. 5, Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) launched on a Delta II from CCAFS on Sept. 10, NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) launched on a Delta II from VAFB on Oct. 28, and Mars Science Lab launched on an Atlas V from CCAFS on Nov. 26.

With a distinguished career spanning 30 years, Sponnick is responsible for the integration and launch of all ULA missions including the design and delivery of mission unique software, analyses, hardware and operations. Additionally, he is responsible for the management and execution of the ULA manifest along with managing the customer interface and technical interaction for launch campaign activities.

ULA program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo.  Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., and Harlingen, Texas. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

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