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Home > Press > National Space Society Celebrates the Life of Hugh Downs: Long-serving chair of the NSS Board of Governors and recipient of NSS Lifetime Achievement and Distinguished Service Awards passes at age 99

Abstract:
The National Space Society (NSS) mourns the passing of Hugh Downs at age 99 on Thursday. Mr. Downs was an iconic figure in television news as well as a long-serving Chairman of the NSS Board of Governors.

National Space Society Celebrates the Life of Hugh Downs: Long-serving chair of the NSS Board of Governors and recipient of NSS Lifetime Achievement and Distinguished Service Awards passes at age 99

Washington, DC | Posted on July 3rd, 2020

“Hugh Downs was larger than life, and his accomplishments were legendary throughout society. To the team at the National Space Society, he was a mentor, a statesman, and a remarkable leader. We laud the profound legacy he leaves behind, and though we will miss him greatly, Hugh will always have a special place of honor among us.”— Karlton Johnson, Chairman, National Space Society Board of Governors

Mr. Downs had a history of supporting space advocacy. He was a visionary who understood that the cancellation of the Apollo program in 1972 would damage America’s leadership in space. He therefore partnered with NASA's Wernher von Braun, father of the Saturn V rocket, to form a new space advocacy organization, the National Space Institute (NSI), in 1974. The Institute later merged with Dr. Gerrard O’Neill’s L5 Society to become the National Space Society.

Mr. Downs was not only a founding member of the organization, but also the first and longest-running Chair of the Board of Governors. As a TV broadcaster who covered NASA’s pioneering era, Mr. Downs was also a powerful communicator of important space issues for the NSS.

Mr. Downs’ voice reached millions of people, including both the general public and those within the space community, and he was broadly influential. He spoke at the NSS’s annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC®) multiple times and was recognized for his exceptional contributions to space advocacy by leaders such as Buzz Aldrin, John Glenn, and Scott Carpenter. Though he retired from his formal media role in 1999, he continued to support the NSS well into the 21st century.

“Hugh created a narrative that conveyed the benefits of space to the public for decades,” said Lynne Zielinski, NSS Vice President of Education and liaison to the NSS Board of Governors. “The NSS recently presented him our Distinguished Service Award in commemoration of his extraordinary outreach activity for the Society.” Concurrently, the NSS honored Mr. Downs by elevating him to Chairman Emeritus status due to his long and distinguished career in supporting space exploration and development.

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About National Space Society
The NSS is the preeminent citizen's voice on space exploration and development. More information is available at space.nss.org.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Lynne Zielinski
202-424-2899

Copyright © National Space Society

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