Chris Crumbly, the University of Tennessee Space Institute’s (UTSI) Senior Director for Space and Defense Programs, has received not one, but two awards from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Specifically, Crumbly received the 2019 Von Braun Award for Excellence in Space Program Management from the AIAA Foundation and the 2019 Earl Pearce Professional of the Year Award from the Greater Huntsville Section of the AIAA.
The national Von Braun Award for Excellence in Space Program Management recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the management of a significant space program. The award honors Wernher von Braun, who was one of the world’s rocket engineering pioneers and a leading authority on space travel. Crumbly was nominated by Joseph Majdalani for his excellence in furthering human spaceflight through strategic planning and leadership of several key programs within the Space Launch System. UTSI’s Executive Director, Mark Whorton presented this award to Crumbly as the AIAA Space & Missile Group Director.
The Earl Pearce award is presented in recognition of extraordinary dedication, creativity, and leadership while engaged in professional activity within the aerospace community. It is named after Retired Cammander. Earl Hewitt Pearce (1930-2016), an exemplary US Navy fighter pilot, who faithfully served his nation and the aerospace organization for over 50 years. Crumbly was nominated by Winfred A. (Butch) Foster, Jr., for his extraordinary leadership skills, courage, professionalism, and development of technical exchange and incubator programs that promote an able engineering workforce.
Prior to his leadership appointments at UT, the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation, and Teledyne Brown, Crumbly led several prominent programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for over 25 years. More specifically, Crumbly managed the Space Launch System (SLS) Program’s Spacecraft/Payload Integration and Evolution Office, located at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He was responsible for managing the development of spacecraft and payload interfaces for SLS and technical innovations that have increased the performance and decreased the cost of America’s next-generation heavy-lift rockets for human and scientific exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. In addition to serving in management positions at Marshall, he also served as Special Assistant to NASA’s Deputy Administrator and Senior Space Policy Analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
A native of Rome, Georgia, Crumbly holds both bachelors and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from Auburn University (’88) and is a graduate of the Program for Management Development at Harvard Business School. He speaks on the space program frequently with audiences ranging from TEDx to school groups and professional societies. Crumbly serves on several professional and civic boards including the Huntsville Space Club, the American Astronautical Society, and the Greater Huntsville Section of the AIAA where he serves as the Region II Deputy Director for Public Policy. Crumbly is an Associate Fellow of AIAA and a past recipient of the 2017 Holger Toftoy Award for Outstanding Technical Management in Astronautics.