Many of today's rockets and commercial communication satellites are working better and more efficiently because of the pioneering work of Yvonne C. Brill. Her patented hydrazine resistojet propulsion system keeps a satellite in a fixed geosynchronous orbit longer than other systems and with a larger payload. This advancement has saved commercial satellite owners like RCA, GE and Lockheed Martin millions of dollars.
She also worked on propellant management feed systems, electric propulsion, and an innovative propulsion system for the Atmosphere Explorer, which in 1973 allowed scientists to gather extensive data on the Earth's thermosphere for the first time. Since 1994, she has served on the nine-member Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, a senior advisory committee on safety issues created by NASA after the command module spacecraft fire during the Apollo program.
When Ms. Brill began her career in 1945, she was the sole woman of technology working in rocket propulsion systems. Since then, she has worked to increase the number of women in technology, encouraging other technical women and seeing they get the recognition they deserve. She recommends women to influential boards and nominates women every year to the National Academy of Engineering, which she joined in 1987. She nominates women for awards from the Society of Women Engineers, for the National Medal of Science and for the National Medal of Technology.
Ms. Brill has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Manitoba and a master's in chemistry from USC. She is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics and a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In 1986, she received the Society of Women Engineers' Achievement Award, that organization's highest honor. In 1993, she received their Resnik Challenger Medal for expanding space horizons through innovations in rocket propulsion systems.
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