In conjunction with the Air Force's 50th anniversary and Air Force Space Command's 15th anniversary in 1997, the award was formalized into an official Air Force award. Since then a select few have been honored with the award each year.
During the initial years of the Air Force space program, prior to the first successful launches in 1958, a small group of visionaries played key roles in establishing the foundation of our nation's military space power. Even before the surprise of Sputnik, these pioneers led the government and contractor team, with fully defined space systems concepts and initial development of operational systems. The Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Award pays tribute to the leaders of the early years, as well as the subsequent innovators whose vision and perseverance overcame the obstacles of the unknown, those who transformed the cutting edge of technology into operational systems, and those who dedicated their lives to exploring space in support of our national security concerns.
The National Space Club selected the first ten space pioneers in 1989. When the award was formalized as the "Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Award" in 1997, two new Pioneers were honored. Selection of the new pioneers coincided with the establishment of the Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame, located in the James V. Hartinger Building at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, headquarters Air Force Space Command.
Hall of Fame artwork is donated by the Lance P. Sijan Chapter of the Air Force Association and created by aviation artist, Mr. Jay Ashurst.
The Honorable Trevor Gardner
Lieutenant General Otto J. Glasser, USAF
Brigadier General William G. King, Jr., USAF
Colonel Frederic C. E. Oder, USAF
The Honorable James W. Plummer
Dr. Simon Ramo
Major General Osmond J. Ritland, USAF
General Bernard A. Schriever, USAF
Lieutenant General Charles H. Terhune, Jr., USAF
Dr. John von Neumann
Colonel Francis J. Hale, USAF
Lieutenant Colonel Albert W. Johnson, USAF
Colonel Richard S. Leghorn, USAFR
General Lew Allen, Jr., USAF
Major General Joe Henry Engle, USAF
Colonel Vernon L. Hastings, USAF
Dr. F. Robert "Bob" Naka