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36th Annual Wernher von Braun Memorial Dinner

Wednesday, October 30, 2024

What is the
Wernher von Braun Memorial Dinner?

The Wernher von Braun Memorial Dinner is the most prominent event of the year. The dinner culminates the yearly Symposium held each October and serves as the largest fundraiser event hosted by the Space Club.  Dubbed the "The Space Prom," this dinner welcomes local businesses and space enthusiasts to arrive dressed to the nines to celebrate scholarships and award recipients who are helping to shape the future of space exploration. The event honors selected individuals and groups by awarding the von Braun Space Flight Trophy, the Astronautics Engineering Award, the Distinguished Science Award, the Communications Award, the Community Service Award, the Aerospace Educator Award, the Dr. Wernher von Braun Memorial Scholarship, and the National Space Club scholarships. 

The Club’s funding for educational outreach is the key goal for this “can’t miss” event that attracts over 900 people each year for a memorable dinner.  This outstanding night named in honor of Dr. von Braun celebrates space exploration with so many people that have helped make this country, this state, and this community so influential and successful in our nation’s space program.

Past keynote speakers have included:

  • Bob Cabana, NASA Associate Administrator

  • Leonard David, Space journalist and author

  • Harrison Schmitt, Former Astronaut, US Senator

  • General John E. Hyten, Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command 

  • The Honorable Michael Griffin, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering

  • Mike Massimino, Former Astronaut, Entertainer

  • Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of the European Space Agency

  • Dennis Tito, Inspiration Mars Foundation/1st Space Tourist   

  • Paul Allen, Microsoft Co-Founder/Investor/Philanthropist

  • Bob Crippen, CPT (USN Ret.) Naval aviator/Astronaut & first Shuttle pilot

  • Gary Payton, LTG. Gen. (USAF, Ret.), Former Astronaut, NASA and & DOD leader.

  • Charles Bolden, Jr., MAJ Gen (USMC Ret.), Former Astronaut /NASA Administrator,

  • General Kevin Chilton, US Strategic Command

  • Dr. Michael Griffin, former NASA Administrator

  • Helen Greiner,  iRobot

  • Leonard Nimoy, Actor – Mr. Spock

  • Alan Ladwig,

  • Olivia Newton John, Entertainer


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Who Are We

Dr. Elizabeth Barrios



Dr. Elizabeth Barrios holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Wayne State University, a master’s degree in Materials Science & Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, and a PhD in Materials Science & Engineering from the University of Central Florida. Elizabeth is a Structural Materials Engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center focusing on the failure analysis of avionics and EEE parts. She also conducts research on the development of new energy conversion materials and processing schemes to address the needs of future manned missions to the Moon and Mars surfaces. Prior to joining Marshall Space Flight Center, Elizabeth was a contractor at NASA’s Langley Research Center (2021) where she worked on the automation of the surface preparation of carbon fiber composites and a NASA Pathways Intern at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (2016-2021) where she worked on failure analysis and fabrication of carbon fiber composite structures. In this latter role, she won a NASA Space Flight Readiness Team award (2018) for her support in the development and delivery of the Advanced Plant Habitat. 


Outside of the 9-5 job at NASA’s MSFC, Elizabeth passion for space and research has led to her being highly involved with the International Astronautical Federation and the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). Currently, she serves as the Chair and Founder of the IAF Launchpad Mentorship Programme, Co-Chair of the Luigi G. Napolitano Award, and Regional Coordinator for SGAC. She is a member of multiple governing and technical committees of the IAF including the Young Professional Programme/Workforce Development Committee, the Space Education and Outreach Committee, the Next Generation Coordination Committee, and the Materials & Structures Technical Committee. As a contributor to the ceramics research community, Elizabeth is also the Young Professional liaison to the Electronic Ceramics Division of the American Ceramic Society. 

Elizabeth is the recipient of the International Astronautical Federation’s Young Space Leader Award (2021), the SGAC Space Generation Leadership Award (2021), the Luigi G. Napolitano Award (2020), and Emerging Space Leader Award (2018). As a PhD student, Elizabeth was a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow (2016-2020).

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