Yours Truly- A Lifetime Achievement

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On November 2, Brother Richard Truly ’59, was unanimously selected by The Board of Directors of the Space Foundation as the 2016 recipient of its single-highest honor: the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award. To read more about Truly, click HERE.

The retired Vice Admiral will receive his most-prestigious award officially at a special luncheon on April 13, 2016, during the Space Foundation’s 32nd Space Symposium April 11-14 at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

A Note about the award:

 Named for the Space Foundation's former, long-time chairman, the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award is one of the global space community's highest honors. The award recognizes outstanding lifetime contributions to the betterment of humankind through the exploration, development and use of space, or through use of space technology, information or resources. Award nominations are solicited annually by the Space Foundation, and the award recipient decision is ratified by the Space Foundation Board of Directors.

The Space Foundation recently released the following statement regarding Mr. Truly:

"From his leadership of Military space endeavors like the Manned Orbiting Lab (MOL) program, and Naval Space Command, to pilot and test pilot achievements including the early space shuttle flights, to leading NASA back to flight after the loss of Challenger, Dick Truly has quietly and humbly led the U.S. space program through some of its most important moments," said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. Few exemplify a lifetime of space achievement better than Dick Truly, and we are humbled by the opportunity to recognize his contributions to the exploration, development and utilization of space."

Truly the Facts

Truly, now retired, is a former U.S. Navy Vice Admiral, fighter pilot, astronaut for both the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and was the eighth administrator of NASA from 1989 to 1992.

Brother truly earned a Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering degree from Georgia Tech in 1959, where he was also a member of the Alpha Sigma Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order Fraternity.

“My days in the fraternity were great,” said Truly. “What I got out of it where the brothers, who I still keep in touch with today. There are plenty of us still around.”

Shortly after graduating, Truly was ordered to flight school and was designated a naval aviator October 7, 1960. His initial tour-of-duty was in Fighter Squadron 33, where he flew F-8 Crusaders aboard USS Intrepid and USS Enterprise. He made more than 300 career landings.

The years 1963-65 saw Brother Truly as a student and later, an instructor at the United States Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California. As a Naval Aviator and Test Pilot, Truly has over 7,000 hours in numerous military jet aircraft.

In 1965, Truly was among the first military astronauts selected to the United States Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program in Los Angeles, Calif. He joined the NASA Astronaut Corp in August, 1969, after the cancellation of the MOL program.  

At NASA, the Kappa Alpha was a member of the astronaut support crew and capsule communicator (CAPCOM) for all three of the manned Skylab missions in 1973, and the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975.  Truly was pilot for the Space Shuttle Enterprise approach and landing test flights during 1977. He was then assigned as a backup pilot for STS-1, the first orbital flight test of the Shuttle. His first flight into space (STS-2, Nov. 12-14, 1981) was as pilot of the Space Shuttle Columbia, significant as the first manned spacecraft to be re-flown in space. His second flight (STS-8, Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, 1983) was as commander of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which was the first night launch and landing in the Shuttle program.

Truly left NASA in 1983 to become the first commander of the Naval Space Command in Dahlgren, Va.

Three weeks after the Shuttle Challenger disaster, Brother Truly returned to NASA to become NASA's Associate Administrator of Space Flight on February 20, 1986. His primary task was to watch over the Challenger accident investigation and Space Shuttle's return to flight. The Space Shuttle Discovery successfully flew on September 29, 1988, on mission STS-26.
Truly was named to head NASA as its eighth Administrator in May, 1989. He held this position until April, 1992.

After his departure from NASA, he led the Georgia Tech Research Institute from 1992 to 1997, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory from 1997 to 2005. He served on the Board of Directors of the Space Foundation from 2003 - 2009.

Truly's decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Merit awards, the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross and the Meritorious Service Award. His NASA awards include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, two NASA space flight Medals and two NASA Exceptional Service Medals. Truly is also the recipient of the Department of Energy Gold Award (2005), the Air Force Association's David C. Shilling Award (1978), Society of Experimental Test Pilot's Ivan C. Kincheloe and James H. Doolittle Awards (1978 and 1988), the American Astronautical Society's Flight Achievement Award (1977), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Haley Space Flight Award (1980), the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy (1982 and 1988), the Thomas D. White Space Trophy (1982), the Robert J. Collier Trophy (1982 and 1988), the Harmon International Trophy (1982), the Federation Aeronautique Internationale Gold Space Medal (1984), the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and the Medal of Honor of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Truly was credited by Carl Sagan with interceding in an internal dispute regarding whether Voyager 1 should be commanded to take one last photograph of Earth before completing its primary mission. The resulting photograph has since become known as the Pale-Blue-Dot-photograph.  

(Biography Information courtesy of

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