Following Dreams, Setting Goals, and Never Giving Up
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, but eventually Mike’s hard work, persistence and patience paid off with his acceptance by NASA (on his fourth try) and two missions on the Space Shuttle and four spacewalks on the Hubble Space Telescope. Mike brings the audience along on his extraordinary journey and shows that as long as you keep trying, no matter what the obstacles, achieving your goal is possible.
Teamwork and Leadership
Upon arriving at NASA, Mike discovered he was part of an organization that put the success of the team and the mission above individual accomplishments. The teamwork, leadership skills and strong friendships they developed through their training and spaceflights enabled Mike and his colleagues to complete astronaut training, overcome tragedy, and repair the greatest scientific instrument in space – the Hubble Space Telescope. Mike shows how true teamwork and leadership lead to success in professional endeavors and in life.
Innovation and Problem Solving
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.
An Astronaut’s View of Planet Earth
The orbit of the Hubble Space Telescope is 350 miles above the Earth, 100 miles higher than the International Space Station. From that altitude, astronauts are able to see the curvature of our planet, and spacewalking astronauts are able to take in the magnificent views through their helmet visors with a 360 degree view of our planet and the surrounding universe. Mike describes his observations and feelings while viewing our planet, including its fragility and the importance of taking care of it.
The Future of Space Exploration
A former NASA astronaut, Mike Massimino was the first person to tweet from space, is a New York Times bestselling author and is a frequent guest on television, including six appearances on long running hit comedy series The Big Bang Theory.
A veteran of two space flights, the fourth and fifth Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions in 2002 and 2009, Mike has many accomplishments including a team record for the number of hours spacewalking in a single space shuttle mission. He has also received a number of awards including two NASA Space Flight Medals, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and the American Astronautical Society’s 2009 Flight Achievement Award. He is also the holder of two patents and author of several engineering research papers.
Since leaving NASA in 2014, Mike has been a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University and the Senior Advisor for Space Programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City. Back at his alma mater, Columbia, Mike is teaching an undergraduate course, Introduction to Human Space Flight, which harnesses his years of academic and professional experience and is working with The Art of Engineering, a course in which all first-year engineers attend design lectures and work on engineering projects with socially responsible themes.
Prior to becoming a NASA astronaut, Mike worked as an engineer at IBM, NASA Headquarters and McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, and had academic appointments at both Rice University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, Mike was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1996.
In addition to Mike’s six appearances on The Big Bang Theory, he frequently appears in national and local television news shows, morning shows and late night talk shows, as well as a wide variety of podcasts, print media and films. Mike’s new book, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe, is a New York Times bestseller and has received rave reviews from readers and professional reviewers.