Deputy director of NMSU physical science laboratory receives top NASA award


A staff member from New Mexico State University has been recognized for exemplary work over the past two decades in support of NASA’s High Altitude Balloon Program.

Henry Cathey, now Acting Deputy Director of the Physical Sciences Laboratory at NMSU, received an Outstanding Civil Service Medal from NASA.

“Henry has received an honor he truly deserves,” said NMSU vice president of research Vimal Chaitanya. “This clearly shows the quality of the NMSU staff and researchers with whom I have the honor to work. Our contribution to the science mission of NASA over the past three decades is very important and this award illustrates not only the work of Henry, but also PSL and NMSU.

The medal was presented to Cathey at an annual awards ceremony in July at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“It is a lesson in humility to receive this recognition,” said Cathey. “I became an engineer because I love to solve problems. I have been blessed with a number of unique technical challenges over the past 20 years and the opportunity to do things that no one has done before. I enjoyed my work and it is an honor to be recognized.

This prestigious NASA Medal, approved by the NASA Administrator, is awarded to any non-governmental person for their outstanding contributions to NASA missions. The award citation reads: “For exceptional service, exemplary performance and technical expertise in supporting the NASA balloon program. This medal is recognition of sustained performance that embodies multiple contributions to NASA projects, programs and initiatives.

Cathey has worked for PSL for 20 years at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. He recently moved to Las Cruces and was appointed acting deputy director of PSL. It continues to support NASA’s hot air balloon activities and a number of other PSL activities, including the development of new businesses.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in design from Vanderbilt University and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in space systems from George Washington University.

NASA’s most prestigious awards are presented to carefully selected individuals who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the agency’s mission. The Outstanding Civil Service Medal is awarded for sustained performance that includes multiple contributions to the agency’s mission. The recipient’s accomplishments must set a benchmark for others to follow and represent a substantial improvement in a NASA program that produces high-quality results or improvements and has a lasting impact on the agency’s success.

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