IAF Excellence in International Cooperation Award

The IAF Excellence in International Cooperation Award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated excellence in their efforts to promote and facilitate global engagement and cooperation in the space sector.

The exploration of space has resulted in the advancement of scientific knowledge and benefits for all of humanity. As we expand further into the universe, as we learn new things, identify new problems, and come up with novel solutions, it is important to pay tribute to those at the forefront of international collaboration who help us work together and bridge our differences.

As a global federation, the IAF strives to promote a worldwide dialogue to support international cooperation as the foundation of a stable and developing space community.

Dedicated to acknowledge the efforts and achievements in facilitating global engagement and cooperation, this award is intended to recognize outstanding contributions by an individual in advancing international cooperation including in, but not limited to, the fields of space science, space technology, space medicine, space law and space policy.

Any IAF Member Organization in good standing, Chairperson of IAF Administrative and Technical Committees, and IAF Officer is invited to nominate a candidate for the IAF Excellence in International Cooperation Award.

2024 Call for Nominations - CLOSED

2024 Recipient

Gabriella Arrigo's career showcases her unwavering commitment to international space cooperation. She has been instrumental in shaping policies and fostering collaboration within ESA and ASI, contributing to key events. Through her work at UNCOPUOS, she has promoted cooperative frameworks to maintain peace in outer space. Her leadership has significantly impacted Italy's involvement in international space initiatives, including the ISS and the Artemis Accords. Additionally, her notable contributions to academia and transformative role in the IAF, advocacy for inclusivity, and efforts to engage new actors underscore her excellence in advancing international space cooperation.

Gabriella ARRIGO

Director, International Affairs Directorate, Italian Space Agency (ASI)


Michael Gold has dedicated his career to advancing international space cooperation, notably contributing to the implementation of global space projects. His transformative work in reforming U.S. export controls facilitated international collaboration in commercial space ventures, setting a precedent for legal reforms. At NASA, he led the development and implementation of the Artemis Accords, garnering support from 33 countries, including emerging space players. Mr. Gold's leadership also resulted in updates to planetary protection policies. His adept negotiation skills were instrumental in establishing the binding agreements for the Lunar Gateway, showcasing his ability to navigate challenges and achieve consensus among international partners.

Michael GOLD

Chief Growth Officer, Redwire

United States

2023 Recipient

For the entirety of his professional career, including as the longest continually serving leader of NASA’s Science Program, Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen has been a dynamic and effective advocate for global civil space cooperation as a tool to advance science and exploration for the benefit of humanity. Dr. Zurbuchen has tirelessly worked across borders to build and sustain international relationships, guiding the pursuit of excellence in science and exploration and the advancement of the frontiers of knowledge. During his tenure at NASA, 37 missions were started and another 54 initiated, most of which included international partners. Among many highly successful missions, he oversaw the effort to bring the James Webb Space Telescope to launch, two Mars landings, the first controlled flight away from the Earth, the development of the Parker Solar Probe, and the creation of the Earth System Observatory. Few leaders from NASA have had as profound an impact on international collaboration in space science and solar system exploration as Dr. Zurbuchen. We are delighted that he has been selected as the recipient of the IAF Excellence in International Cooperation Award for 2023


Professor and Director of Space Programs, ETH Zürich


2022 Recipient

The IAF Excellence in Cooperation Award 2022 has been bestowed to Mr. Frederic Nordlund who has fostered international relations throughout his professional career.His efforts were ot limited to the 22 ESA member states, but spread to several international organisations throughout the globe, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), China National Space Administration (CNSA), Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). In many international space endeavours, he established himself as a true ambassador of a world-wide international cooperation to the best benefit of space science, human spaceflight, exploration and applications. In this, he was always ensuring a collaborative spirit amongst members of the space community over more than 30 years.


Head of the European and External Relations Department, European Space Agency (ESA)


2021 Recipient

The first IAF Excellence in Cooperation Award 2021 has been bestowed to Dr. Jean-Yves Le Gall for his fruitful networks and collaborations with numerous stakeholders at political, institutional, industrial and academic levels encouraging them to work together to create a coherent space strategy.

Jean-Yves LE GALL

Former President, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES)


History of the Award

The IAF Excellence in International Cooperation Award is a recent award bestowed by the International Astronautical Federation from 2021. Its origins however has a much longer history, since it is based on the former Allan D. Emil Memorial Award. Please, find below the details of the former Allan D. Emil Memorial Award and the full list of past winners.

Allan D. Emil Memorial Award, history and past winners

Should you have any questions about the IAF Excellence in International Cooperation Award, please contact the IAF Secretariat at: