NMSU Employee Receives Major Award
Danny R.J. Ball, site manager for NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, operated by the New Mexico State University Physical Science Laboratory, has been awarded the prestigious American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Otto C. Winzen Lifetime Achievement Award.
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is the world's largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession. Ball was presented the award for "championing groundbreaking advancements in stratospheric ballooning by expanding worldwide launch opportunities, and fostering state of the art improvements in equipment and operations," according to the citation.
"This award is rarely given to people directly involved in operational support such as CSBF. Normally it goes to equally deserving academics," Ball said. "The award validates all of us at CSBF who have spent our careers down where the rubber meets the road in supporting scientific research."
Ball has served at the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility for 33 years. During that time, he worked as staff meteorologist, head of operations and site manager in support of NASA's scientific balloon program.
He graduated from St. Louis University in 1971 with a bachelor's of atmospheric science.
The staff at the facility supplies operational support for NASA's balloon program, which flies scientific missions, primarily telescopes, for major universities and institutes all over the world. They manage logistics, launches, telemetry, flight terminations and payload recovery. Since the program was established, CSBF has launched more than 2,200 flights from 62 sites all over the world. Ball said that the balloons at the facility can lift scientific payloads of up to 8,000 pounds into near space for periods of up to seven weeks. NASA's workhorse balloon is 39 million cubic feet in volume or just a little smaller than the Houston Astrodome.
The Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility supports operations remotely in places such as Antarctica, Australia, Brazil, Sweden and Fort Sumner, N.M.
Some who have conducted research from flights operated by CSBF's staff have become astronauts, Nobel Prize in Physics Laureates and Balzan Prize winners.
The Otto C. Winzen Lifetime Achievement Award is presented for outstanding contributions and achievements in the advancement of free flight balloon systems or related technologies. It is presented in memory of Otto C. Winzen, a pioneer of modern day ballooning. This award is presented biennially at the Aircraft Technology Integrations and Operations Forum or Balloon Systems Conference.
"There's no way I would have been recognized in this way if not for the hard work of all our staff at CSBF. I would challenge anyone to find a more dedicated group of professionals anywhere," Ball said.