Last Friday André Kuipers called the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) from the International Space Station (ISS), in order to personally congratulate the winner of an internal award.

See our YouTube channel for this special conversation (Dutch only).

Kuipers specifically called to speak with Zeholy Pronk during the ceremony held for the Spee Award, the NLR’s annual award, which was awarded to Pronk. Pronk received the Spee Award for his work on space systems for the ISS and various international publications. Kuipers referred to this work during the telephone call.

The 2011 Spee Award was presented by Michel Peters, general director of the NLR. Pronk received this ‘Nobel Price of the NLR’ for his years of contributions to the development, training and operations of the space systems for the ISS. Examples of this include the Erasmus User Support & Operations Centre (USOC), the European Robotarm (ERA), and, for this mission, developing the mission planning and training system (MPTE). The Erasmus USOC was manned by specialists from NLR and SAS, a Belgian company. With his work, Pronk has put his mark on knowledge development within the NLR relating to manned space travel. In this, Pronk has brought in major contracts for NLR.

Pronk has published articles in various international scientific publications. Moreover, Pronk often appears in the media, such as, for example, on the occasion of the last Shuttle flight, when he appeared on NOS journaal, the broadcast supplier of news to Dutch public radio and television. This publicity is of great value to NLR. In addition, Pronk plays a key coordinating role within the National Aerospace Museum (NRM), where he also helps garner recognition for the NLR.

Spee Award
The award is named after Ben Spee, who served as NLR’s general director from 1988 to 2001. The award is presented once per calendar year to an NLR employee who has made outstanding scientific contributions to aviation and aerospace.