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NASA awards Public Service Medal to PSL manager

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has awarded its Exceptional Public Service Medal to Danny Ball, site manager for NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, operated by the Physical Science Laboratory of New Mexico State University.



http://ucommphoto.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/ball_danny_award.jpg Robert Strain, left, director of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, presents the Exceptional Public Service Medal to Danny Ball, site manager for NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, operated by the Physical Science Laboratory of New Mexico State University. The award was presented June 3 at a ceremony in Greenbelt, Maryland.(Photo provided)

Robert Strain, director of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, presented the award on June 3 at a ceremony in Greenbelt, Md. He called recipients of NASA's awards "the best of the best."

The medal is one of NASA's highest honors. The award is granted only to an individual who was not a government employee when the service was performed, and recognizes exceptional contributions to the mission of NASA.

"I appreciate NASA's recognition of one person's contributions to NASA's Balloon Program," Ball said, "but I want to emphasize that this award is shared by everyone who makes this happen at CSBF, PSL and NMSU. The CSBF is as close to a family effort as you'll find anywhere. We're all of the same mind in wanting to do our best to support our customer and the science community."

The CSBF is located in Palestine, Texas. The contract to manage the facility is administered by the Balloon Program Office at Wallops Flight Facility of Goddard Space Flight Center. The facility provides services for launching large (400 feet in diameter), unmanned, high-altitude (120,000 feet) scientific balloons. The facility also tracks and recovers the scientific experiments suspended beneath the balloons for NASA centers and universities around the world.

David L. Pierce, chief of the Balloon Program Office, commented, "Under Danny's Leadership, PSL/CSBF's tremendous technical and operational achievements in scientific ballooning have been nothing short of extraordinary, resulting in widely recognized scientific discoveries, and showcasing the importance of scientific ballooning to our country's future. On behalf of the entire NASA balloon family, and the scientists we serve, I want to express my congratulations to Danny, his wife, Grete, and their sons on the receipt of this high honor, with the acknowledgement of our grateful agency for his years of service to the Balloon Program."

Ball has been involved in NASA's Balloon Program for nearly 30 years. He is a 1972 graduate of St. Louis University in atmospheric science, and first worked at the CSBF as a staff meteorologist in 1980. He was promoted to head of operations in 1987 and CSBF site manager in 2001.