Inaugural Ozone Park Awards Gala will honor NASA astronaut, local community members

Photo courtesy of Ozone Park Block Association.

The Ozone Park Residents Block Association and the Ozone Park Howard Beach Woodhaven Lions Club will be honoring mission specialist and astronaut and Ozone Park native Dr. Charles Camarda, as well as other members of the community, during the inaugural Ozone Park Awards Gala Oct. 16. The gala will take place at Roma View from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Prior to the gala, a plaque will be unveiled in front of Dr. Camarda’s original home, which will be registered with the National Register of Historic Places. This plaque unveiling comes with the blessings of the home’s current owners.

Dr. Camarda retired from NASA in May of 2019. He spent 46 years working as a research engineer and technical manager at Langley Research Center, an astronaut and senior executive at Johnson Space Center and as the senior adviser for innovation and engineering development at NASA Langley Research Center.

During his 22 years conducting thermal structures research for hypersonic vehicles, Dr. Camarda developed innovative passive, semi-passive and active thermal protection systems, including heat-pipe-cooled leading edges, high-temperature composite structures and reusable cryogenic propellant tank concepts. He was selected to lead the structures and materials technology maturation team for the National Aero-Space Plane program in 1989. The team was responsible for maturing materials and structures technologies necessary to enable the development of an airbreathing hypersonic vehicle capable of horizontal take-off to orbit.

In 1994, he was selected to head the thermal structures branch before leading structures and materials for the single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicle program. He flew as a mission specialist on STS-114, NASA’s return-to-flight mission following the Columbia disaster. He was responsible for initiating several teams to determine the cause of the Columbia tragedy and to develop an on-orbit, wing leading edge repair capability which was flown on his RTF mission and all successive shuttle missions until the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

An inventor, author and educator, Dr. Camarda has more than 60 technical publications, holds nine patents and received over 20 national and international awards. He was inducted into the Air and Space Cradle of Aviation Museum’s Hall of Fame in 2017. Additionally, he is the founder and CEO of the Epic Education Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that seeks to democratize education for learners at all levels. He also acts as the president of Leading Edge Enterprises LLC, an aerospace engineering and education consultancy.

In addition to Dr. Camarda, other individuals who will be honored at the gala include Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Bionx Orthotic & Prosthetic Services owner Glenn Easton, Ozone Park Residents Block Association Vice President Angela Nocerino, Queens West Kiwanis Lieutenant Governor Victor Rodriquez, Second Vice District Governor of Lions District 20K-1 Romeo Hitlall, Il Palazzo di Villa Russo/Russo’s on the Bay owners and operators George and Frank Russo, Meat Palace owner Manny Rodriquez, NYPD QBPS Assistant Chief Kevin Williams, Old Mill Yacht Club and Ozone Park-Woodhaven Kiwanis Club member Joseph Allen, Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services founder Misba Abdin, the Tibball family, reporter Deirdre Bardolf, P.S. 63 Principal Denise De Jesus, Michael and Carin Chiang and Living Word Christian Fellowship Church Pastor Joel Sadaphal.

The Ozone Park Residents Block Association works to educate the community on the quality-of-life issues that may be important to the residents. The Ozone Park Howard Beach Woodhaven Lions Club aims to educate its members, volunteers and partners toward improving the health and well-being of its senior population.