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Orion navigation lead recognized with prestigious AIAA award

November 8, 2017
Orion’s advanced navigation system will allow astronauts to go further into the solar system than ever before. Dr. Greg N. Holt, the man behind this project, perfectly reflects NASA’s ambition to explore the final frontier.

Holt is the only Johnson Space Center employee to be recognized as a class of 2018 Associate Fellow by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). As NASA's Orion Navigation System lead, he is humbled by the selection since it represents acknowledgement from peers in his field. The award distinguishes those who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, sciences or technology of aeronautics or astronautics. Holt is an expert in spacecraft navigation and human spaceflight trajectory operations, specializing in orbit determination. He received his doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Holt attributes his success to working with a “great team to answer the most fundamental question: ‘Where’s my spaceship?’ Navigation is one of those backbone disciplines that enable human space vehicles to go to new and interesting places. It’s really fun to work in a technical field that has [an] art form to it as well.”

As a kid, Holt always liked airplanes and rockets and enjoyed geometry and physics classes. His main source of inspiration was his high school physics teacher, who worked on the Mercury Redstone project. This connection motivated Holt to pursue a career in human space exploration.

Years later, Holt applies knowledge from the classroom to his current duties at Johnson. He worked as a mission control navigator for eight space shuttle missions. One of the greatest highlights of his career was getting to work in mission control for the bookending last shuttle flight and first Orion test flight.

Despite a busy work life, Holt makes time for personal development and family activities. One of his hobbies outside of Johnson is making music (and trying to keep four kids from tearing the house down). He’s also sung in a comedy barbershop quartet for the last eight years.
 
Past AIAA award winners from Johnson include Christopher Culbert, Sarah Shull and Christopher D’Souza, who won the award for the class of 2015. There were no winners from Johnson this past year, so it is a great honor for Holt to be chosen for 2018.

The new Associate Fellows will be officially recognized during the Associate Fellows Recognition Ceremony and Dinner, which is held in conjunction with the AIAA SciTech 2018 event on the evening of Jan. 8 at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida.

The Johnson team is proud of Holt’s achievement and his continuing hard work, creativity and dedication to Orion. With teammates like him, Orion’s future exploration of deep space is in capable hands.

 
Mary Williams
NASA Johnson Space Center
NASA Johnson Space Center's Dr. Greg N. Holt was recognized as a class of 2018 Associate Fellow by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Image Credit: NASA
NASA Johnson Space Center's Dr. Greg N. Holt was recognized as a class of 2018 Associate Fellow by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Image Credit: NASA
Holt evaluates crew emergency manual navigation aids in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility Orion mock-up. Image Credit: NASA
Holt evaluates crew emergency manual navigation aids in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility Orion mock-up. Image Credit: NASA
Holt (middle) works with Flight Director Mike Sarafin in the Blue Flight Control Room during an Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 integrated simulation run. Image Credit: NASA
Holt (middle) works with Flight Director Mike Sarafin in the Blue Flight Control Room during an Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 integrated simulation run. Image Credit: NASA