Northrop Grumman Employees Receive NASA's Highest Honors for Building the James Webb Space Telescope

November 3, 2022 Photo(s): By Northrop Grumman

Today, six Northrop Grumman Corporation employees received NASA's highest honors for their exceptional contributions in designing and building NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Scott Willoughby, Charlie Atkinson, Jim Flynn, Andy Cohen, Scott Texter and Andy Tao were recognized with NASA's Distinguished Public Service Medal, Exceptional Public Achievement Medal and the Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal. The medals are NASA's highest level of recognition for non-government individuals.

"The dedication and commitment of these individuals represent the pioneering spirit of our entire team and embody our relentless pursuit to advance human discovery," said Kathy Warden, chair, chief executive officer and president, Northrop Grumman. "From inventing technologies to creating zero gravity on earth for testing, our team built the world's largest, most complex and powerful space telescope for NASA and we are all seeing the benefits of this incredible feat of engineering."

As the prime contractor to develop the James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman designed and built the deployable sunshield, provided the spacecraft and integrated the total system. The observatory subsystems were developed by a Northrop Grumman-led team with vast experience in developing space-based observatories.

NASA's Distinguished Public Service Medal recognizes personal contributions to NASA mission success and advancement of the nation's interests through extraordinary service and a profound level of excellence. This year's honorees include:

  • Scott Willoughby, vice president and program manager, James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman. Willoughby led the Webb program from 2009 to the observatory's arrival at Lagrange Point 2 in 2022 and oversaw all aspects of the program.
  • Charlie Atkinson, director and chief engineer, James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman. Atkinson joined the program in 1998 and spent over two decades developing and testing the engineering marvel.

NASA's Exceptional Public Achievement Medal recognizes an individual for a significant specific achievement and improvement in operations, efficiency and technology. This year's honoree is:

  • Jim Flynn, director of vehicle engineering and sunshield manager, James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman. Flynn began working on Webb in 2004 and held multiple roles on the program, including managing Webb's intricate and groundbreaking sunshield.

NASA's Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal recognizes individuals for exceptional engineering contributions toward achievement of the NASA mission who have significantly enhanced the aerospace field. Advancing the state of engineering practice, this year's honorees include:

  • Andy Cohen, spacecraft bus director, James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman (retired)
  • Andy Tao, sunshield chief engineer, James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman (retired)
  • Scott Texter, optical telescope element manager, James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman (retired)