USU Faculty Member Awarded NASA Silver Snoopy Award

to people in flight suits training on a rocky terrain on earth

By Sharon Holland

a posed head-shot of a man in a flight suit
Army Col. (Dr.) Richard Scheuring (NASA Photo)
Moon rocks, space dust, mission patches and memories of iconic moments in history are some of the prized possessions of the hundreds of astronauts who have walked the halls of NASA’s space flight centers since the agency’s establishment in 1958.

But for the thousands of NASA employees who are not part of the Astronaut Corps, the most coveted treasure has nothing to do with space --- it is a sterling silver likeness of one of the world’s most recognizable cartoon characters.

The Silver Snoopy Award, presented by NASA’s Space Flight Awareness program, is given to the agency’s employees and contractors for outstanding achievements related to human flight safety and mission success. Referred to as “the astronaut’s award” by NASA, it is usually presented to the recipient by an astronaut.

the space shuttle on take off
The ISS Expedition 53 launched from Russia on July 28, 2017. USU faculty member and
NASA flight surgeon, Army Col. (Dr.) Richard Scheuring, was honored with NASA’s
Silver Snoopy Award for his outstanding support for the mission. (NASA Photo)
This year, the Silver Snoopy Award – a silver lapel pin previously flown on a space mission -- was presented to Army Col. (Dr.) Richard Scheuring, an associate professor in USU’s Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, who is a flight surgeon at NASA.

Scheuring also received a certificate of appreciation and commendation letter, both signed by retired Army colonel astronaut Randy Bresnik, commander of the International Space Station expedition 53 (ISS Exp. 53). Bresnik also presented the award to Scheuring in a ceremony at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Scheuring received the award for his role as the lead crew surgeon for ISS Exp. 53. As such, he was responsible for the health and well-being of the U.S. crew member (Bresnik) and provided the operational support for launch/landing operations in Russia/Kazakhstan, and mission support in Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center.

A man in a space suit in a training pool
Army Col. (Dr.) Richard Scheuring, a NASA flight surgeon and associate professor of Military and Emergency Medicine at USU, trains in the International Space Station mock-up in NASA’s neutral buoyancy lab. Scheuring was lauded for his support of ISS Expedition 53 with NASA’s Silver Snoopy Award. (Courtesy Photo)

“The Silver Snoopy is the highest award given at NASA, and only comes from an astronaut for supporting them and the mission. When I first came to NASA in 2004, I saw the legends in space medicine receive this award -- many were my mentors early in my career -- and I could only imagine what that would be like,” said Scheuring. “It basically represents the astronaut corps recognizing a job well done, and there are a lot of very deserving folks out there. Cmdr. Bresnik is a very thoughtful and conscientious individual and I greatly appreciate him recognizing me and my deputy crew surgeon, Dr. Sean Roden, for our support during his mission.”

astronauts outside the Space Station in space
NASA astronauts Joe Acaba (left) and Randy Bresnik (right) at work outside
the International Space Station on Oct. 20, 2017, in the third of a series of
three planned spacewalks. The two astronauts, part of ISS Expedition 53,
successfully completed the 6 hour, 49 minute spacewalk at 2:36 p.m. EDT.
Army Col. (Dr.) Richard Scheuring, was honored with NASA’s Silver
Snoopy Award for his outstanding support for the mission. (NASA photo)
ISS Exp. 53 launched July 28, 2017 from Russia and returned to Earth Dec. 14, 2017, landing safely in Kazakhstan. Since 2011, following the retirement of the Space Shuttle, American astronauts have used Russian spacecraft for transportation to the ISS. Missions usually last about five months, during which Scheuring conducts weekly video or telephone chats via satellite with the astronaut to discuss any medical concerns. Typical illnesses and effects from space travel range from space motion sickness (nausea, headache, vomiting, back pain), bone and muscle loss, and temporary farsightedness, although exercise equipment has been installed on the ISS to help combat against the reduction of density and muscle mass. Frequently, Scheuring travels to Russia with the U.S. space expedition team to provide support while the astronauts are in training. Short of going into space, Scheuring is able to do nearly everything with his mission crew, including flying T-38s, diving in the neutral buoyancy lab when they practice space walks underwater, exercising, and participating in their training. As an expert in musculoskeletal injuries, Scheuring works with the astronauts to identify injury risks and to develop a plan for rehabilitation in case they do suffer injury.

The Silver Snoopy Award was named for the iconic Peanuts character made famous by cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. During the 1960s, the Peanuts cartoons and characters were extremely popular in the U.S. and after a number of tragic accidents, the space agency -- looking for a way to boost employee morale and provide a connection between the astronauts and the support staff -- sought permission to use Snoopy for the award. Schulz created a sketch of America’s favorite beagle in a space suit wearing his “World War I flying ace” helmet and scarf, carrying a gearbox, and it was turned into the sterling silver pin that has since been given to more than 15,000 NASA employees from departments across the agency. The elite award is given to fewer than one percent of NASA’s workforce each year.

A man in a astronaut flight suit presents a certificate to another man
International Space Station Expedition 53 commander Army Col. Randy Bresnik (center) presents the coveted NASA Silver Snoopy Award to Col. (Dr.) Richard Scheuring (right), associate professor of Military and Emergency Medicine at USU and flight surgeon at NASA, for his contributions to the ISS Exp. 53 mission. Scheuring’s wife, Michelle, is also pictured. (NASA Photo)

“Spaceflight is a team sport, much like a military deployment. You depend on your team to ensure mission success,” said Scheuring. “At NASA, the people make this place great. I am blessed to have the privilege to work here.”