IAF Young Space Leaders Recognition Programme (YSL)

The IAF Young Space Leaders Recognition Programme is awarded to exceptional students and young professionals, who contribute to astronautics in their academic or early careers, reach out to other young people and their communities to share knowledge and experiences, have been engaged with the international space community and contribute to IAF activities.

2019 IAF Young Space Leaders

The annual Young Space Leaders (YSL) Recognition Programme recognises exceptional students and young professionals (age 21-35) who demonstrate leadership in their academic or early careers.

The call for nominations for the programme is addressed to IAF Members, Regional Groups and Technical and Administrative Committees.

Candidates have to be between the age of 21 and 35 (on 1 January of the year following the call announcement) and be:

  • Contributing to astronautics through their academic and/or professional activities,
  • Reaching out to other young people and to their community to share knowledge and experience,
  • Engaging colleagues in the international space community,
  • Contributing to the work of IAF committees and/or volunteering in support of other Federation activities such as physical or virtual participation on selection activities related to IAF grants, Next Generation Plenary and awards; participation in organization of IAC technical sessions and other activities; and participation on local organizing committees for GLEC, GLAC and other IAF meetings. (Note: Attendance at International Astronautical Congress does not in itself qualify).

Nominations have to summarise the nominees’ qualifications and specify how they meet the criteria. Two letters of recommendation per nominee are also asked for.

Young Space Leaders are chosen by a selection committee during the IAF Spring Meetings in March each year. They are then presented with their award during the Closing Ceremony of the annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC). Awardees also attend the IAC Gala Dinner as guests of the IAF President and enjoy a free IAC registration. Travel expenses to the Congress are not covered by the IAF, but nominating individuals or organisations are encouraged to help identify sources of funding for their nominee if he/she is selected.

Each IAF Young Space Leader should help increase knowledge among, and broaden the involvement of, students and young professionals in astronautics worldwide and in the IAF.

In the year following their induction, IAF Young Space Leaders:

  • are featured in an IAF newsletter and on the IAF web site with a short summary of their experience and achievements and their perspectives on space and international cooperation, including the role of the IAF
  • participate in a virtual event to interact with other young people on these topics and the benefits their involvement with the IAF and attendance at IACs has granted them, and highlight the opportunities available to students and young professionals at the upcoming IAC.
  • mentor the Emerging Space Leaders who receive IAF grants to attend the IAC.

YSL 2021 Winners

Lyn D. WIGBELS

President of RWI International Consulting Services and International Coordinator of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program

United States

Kevin STUBE

Contractor, The Planetary Society

United States

Chris WELCH

Professor of Space Engineering, International Space University (ISU)

United Kingdom

Jim ZIMMERMANN

Minoo RATHNASABAPATHY

Research Engineer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

United States

JR EDWARDS

United States

Liz SEWARD

Senior Strategist, Space Systems, Airbus Ltd.

United Kingdom

Nahum ROMERO

YSL Winners

2021 Winners

Elizabeth BARRIOS

Structural Materials Engineer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

United States

Marco GÓMEZ-JENKINS

Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellow, University of Cambridge

Costa Rica

Kathryn ROBISON HASANI

Political scientist

United States

Danil IVANOV

Senior Researcher at Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, Russian Academy of Sciences

Russia

Pierre-Alexis JOUMEL

Director International & New Business, Space Systems, Airbus Defence and Space GmbH

Germany

Ayami KOJIMA

Unit Chief of International Affairs, National Space Policy Secretariat (NSPS)

2020 Winners

Hiroki AKAGI

Deputy Director of Houston Office, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Japan

Chiara COCCHIARA

System Operations Engineer, Eumetsat

Germany

Luis FERREIRA

Strategist, Airbus Defence and Space SA

Arnau PONS

Chair, Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC)

United States

2019 Winners

Olga STELMAKH DRESCHER

Director of Business Development and International Affairs, International Institute of Space Commerce

Matteo EMANUELLI

Senior Systems Engineer, GomSpace Aps

Italy

Avid ROMAN GONZALEZ

Scientist, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES)

Peru

2018 Winners

Seyed Ali NASSERI

Implementation Support Officer, Moon Village Association (MVA), Executive Research Coordinator, University of British Columbia

Canada

Jackelynne SILVA-MARTINEZ

Engineer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Peru

Michal KUNES

Project Manager, European Space Agency (ESA)

Czech Republic

2017 Winners

Minoo RATHNASABAPATHY

Project Manager, European Space Agency (ESA)

United States

Patrick HAMBLOCH

Research engineer, University of Alabama in Huntsville

Timiebi AGANABA JEANTY

Assistant Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Appointed at the Sandra Day O Connor College of Law, Arizona State University

United States

Laszlo BACSARDI

Secretary General, Hungarian Astronautical Society (MANT)

Hungary

2016 Winners

Jessica CULLER

Acting news chief, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

United States

Takashi OHTANI

Associate Senior Engineer, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Japan

Victoria ALONSOPEREZ

Founder and CEO, Chipsafer

Singapore

Andrea BOYD

Deputy Lead of Astronaut Operations and EUROCOM, stationed at the European Astronaut Centre

Germany

Amalio MONZON

Head of Engineering Quality Wing Development, Airbus Defence and Space SA

2015 Winners

Ryan L. KOBRICK

Integrated Product Team Lead, Paragon Space Development Corporation

United States

Lulu MAKAPELA

Christopher VASKO

Telecommunication Systems Engineer, European Space Agency (ESA)

Liz SEWARD

Telecommunication Systems Engineer, European Space Agency (ESA)

United Kingdom

Guillaume GIRARD

2014 Winners

Michael BRETT

Co-Chair, Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC)

Australia

Andrea JAIME ALBALAT

Executive Director, Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC)

Austria

Rui LI

China

Nahum ROMERO

2013 Winners

Julio APREA

Project Management of Space Systems Development, European Space Agency (ESA)

Kimberley CLAYFIELD

Research Director, CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science

Australia

Kat CODERRE

Deputy Manager for Deep Space Exploration Advanced Programs, Lockheed Martin Corporation

United States

Jacob SUTHERLUN

International Relations Specialist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

United States

Trong THU VU

National Point of Contact for Vietnam, Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC)

Vietnam

2012 Winners

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