The National Space Club Florida Committee (NSCFL) presented Frank DiBello with the Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award on Saturday, April 30, during a black-tie dinner held in his honor at beneath the retired Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Visitor Complex.
Frank was recognized for his outstanding personal and professional efforts in supporting the U.S. space program throughout his career, with a particular emphasis on his role in maintaining Florida’s leadership in the aerospace community as president and CEO of Space Florida.
The Debus Award was created by the NSCFL to recognize significant achievements and contributions made in Florida to American aerospace efforts. It is named for the Kennedy Space Center’s first Director, Dr. Kurt H. Debus.
The award was conceived and first bestowed in 1990 as an adjunct to the Robert J. Goddard award, which is given each year by the National Space Club and Foundation in Washington, D.C. to an individual who stood out in the aerospace field on a national level.
The Debus Award focuses on efforts in Florida and includes individuals associated with launch vehicles, spacecraft operations, ground support services, range activities, space education and spaceport research and development.
Each honoree is presented with a small copy of the Debus Award Trophy, a stainless steel kinetic sculpture named “Ribbon of Space” by its contemporary artist creator Elijah David Herschler. His work can be seen at the Kennedy Space Center, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., Mercedes Benz World Headquarters in Stuttgart and New York, and numerous private collections in the United States and Europe.
Frank’s career spans more than 50 years, beginning as an operations research analyst at Vitro Laboratories. Soon after he was recruited to join Peat. Marwick, Mitchell and Co., which later became KPMG. Frank spent 24 years there in a variety of roles managing its Aerospace Industry Consulting Practice. As an early Partner at KPMG, he was a founder of the firm’s Commercial Space and Advanced Technologies Practice, where he spent some 15 years serving Defense Department (DoD), NASA and space industry clients. He also led a five-year effort to develop commercial uses of the International Space Station.
Later, Frank left KPMG to form SpaceVest, a venture capital firm focused on investing in companies aimed at growing new markets for commercial applications based on proven defense and space technologies.
Frank moved to Florida in 2003 to become president and CEO of Florida’s Aerospace Finance Corporation, where he assisted financing new and established companies applying aerospace technologies to space, aviation and defense markets in Florida.
Among his many other notable accomplishments: Frank earned a presidential citation for his support of the 1983 Grace Commission, which recommended ways to save $424 billion of waste in the Federal Government. He received a Distinguished Public Service Medal from the DoD for his work as president of the United Services Organization. He founded the Washington Space Business Roundtable and is presently chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
He received his Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Villanova University, completed graduate study work at American University and George Washington University, and has taught at the Defense Systems Management College and International Space University. Frank and his wife, Mary Ann, reside in Cape Canaveral. They have three children and six grandchildren.