Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut, is a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University and the senior advisor for space programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. He received a BS from Columbia University, and MS degrees in mechanical engineering and in technology and policy, as well as a PhD in mechanical engineering, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After working as an engineer at IBM, NASA, and McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, along with academic appointments at Rice University and at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Mike was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1996, and is the veteran of two space flights, the fourth and fifth Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions in 2002 and 2009.

Mike has a team record for the number of hours spacewalking in a single space shuttle mission, and he was also the first person to tweet from space. During his NASA career he received two NASA Space Flight Medals, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the American Astronautical Society’s Flight Achievement Award, and the Star of Italian Solidarity.

Mike has made numerous television appearances, including a six-time recurring role as himself on the CBS hit comedy The Big Bang Theory. He has hosted Science Channel’s The Planets and its special Great American Eclipse. He is featured in National Geographic Channel’s series One Strange Rock and is the host for Science Channel’s series The Planets and Beyond.

He is a frequent guest on television news and talk show programs, including NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CNN. He has also appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and on StarTalk radio and television shows.

Mike’s book, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe, has received rave reviews and is a New York Times best-seller. Mike’s new book, Spaceman: The True Story of a Young Boy’s Journey to Becoming an Astronaut, a young adult version of his previously published autobiography, is scheduled for publication on April 7th, 2020.

He is a recipient of the 2017 Christopher Award, the 2017 Columbia University Community Impact Outstanding Community Service Award, the 2017 National Space Club Communications Award, and in 2018 was inducted into the Long Island Air and Space Hall of Fame. The street that Mike grew up on in Franklin Square, Long Island has been renamed “Mike Massimino Street.”

Mike shares with audiences personal stories of inspiration, innovation, teamwork and leadership as drawn from his experiences in one of the greatest and most dangerous jobs someone can have—NASA astronaut.

Through humor and storytelling, he highlights the pursuit and achievement of a childhood dream, the dedication and teamwork necessary to train for one of NASA’s most difficult space missions, the determination needed to face tragedies like the Columbia space shuttle accident, and the innovation and leadership necessary to overcome seemingly insurmountable trials when in space and beyond.

He leaves his audience’s understanding the value of having passion for what you do, of perseverance in achieving a goal, of building a team to meet great challenges, and of creativity and innovation in problem solving. He also inspires audiences with the awe and beauty of space and shares his thoughts on the future—both personal and in regard to the ever-changing and competitive space program.

KEYNOTE TOPICS:

Mike’s dream of becoming an astronaut began when he was six years old watching television as Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon. The path to achieving this dream was wrought with unexpected challenges, failures, disappointments, and self-doubt. Mike was rejected three times by NASA including a medical disqualification which Mike overcame by teaching his eyes to “see better.” His persistence paid off with two missions on the Space Shuttle and four spacewalks on the Hubble Space Telescope. Mike stresses that as long as you keep trying no matter what the obstacles, achieving your goal is possible.

Upon arriving at NASA, Mike discovered he was part of team that put the success of the team and the mission above individual accomplishments. Teamwork and leadership was developed through the extraordinary experiences that Mike and his fellow astronauts shared during their training and spaceflights. Through these experiences strong friendships and working relationships were forged that enable Mike and his colleague’s to complete astronaut training, overcome tragedy, and repair the greatest scientific instrument in space – the Hubble Space Telescope. Mike discusses how teamwork and leadership led to success during his spaceflights and in life.

Mike’s second spaceflight was the final Space Shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. On that mission Mike was tasked with the most complicated spacewalk ever attempted: the in-space repair of a delicate scientific instrument inside of the telescope. A major miscue during that spacewalk nearly led to failure. But the ground control team and the astronaut’s in space worked together to come up with an innovative solution that saved the day and the mission. Mike explains how although not every problem has an obvious solution, preparation and innovation can help us overcome unforeseen challenges.

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