Popular Mechanics just unveiled this year’s Breakthrough Award recipients. The Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards honor people and companies whose work will transform the world in years to come. It is not surprising, then, that the military and aerospace (mil/aero) community is well represented among innovators who are advancing science and technology.
This year’s honorees include several military and aerospace personnel that continue to push the bleeding-edge of their industry headlong into the future. The winner of the Breakthrough Leadership Award is Peter Diamandis, the entrepreneur, engineer, and physician behind the XPRIZE Foundation (which has the tagline “making the impossible possible”) and co-author of Abundance: The Future is Better than you Think. He joins elite alumni, including Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Geonomics Engineer J. Craig Venter, and Film Director James Cameron.
Also of little surprise, NASA’s Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory made the list, honoring John Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); James Erickson, also of NASA JPL; and their teams. “The Curiosity program proved that it is possible to deliver heavy payloads to Mars and collect valuable samples, helping lead to the discovery that ancient Mars would have been habitable for simple microorganisms,” according to the Popular Mechanics staff.
Northrop Grumman’s X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) caught the attention of the entire mil/aero community this year, and also turned heads at Popular Mechanics. The 2013 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards recognizes Capt. Jaime Engdahl and Don Blottenberger, both of the U.S. Navy; Carl Johnson and Tim Kesecker of Northrop Grumman Corp.; and their teams. “The X-47B is the first UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) to land safely on the deck of an aircraft carrier without a human pilot. Its technology may lead to more accurate autopilot systems in private and commercial aircraft, as well as safer self-driving cars,” recognizes the Popular Mechanics staff.
This mil/aero geek, a longtime and avid reader of Popular Mechanics, continues this discussion of Breakthrough Award winners in the next installment.