Michael Massimino

Michael Massimino

Former NASA Astronaut, Columbia University Engineering Professor, and Inspiration for the Movie Gravity

Speaker Categories: | Astronauts/Aviators | Resilience and Overcoming Obstacles | Leadership

Travels From: NY, United States.

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Michael Massimino Bio
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Former NASA Astronaut, Columbia University Engineering Professor, and Inspiration for the Movie Gravity

Michael Massimino is a professor of Professional Practice in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University’s The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Mike is also the first person to tweet from space and a four-time spacewalker on two missions to the Hubble Space Telescope, including the final Hubble servicing mission, which has been called the most dangerous and complex mission in space shuttle history.


He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Columbia Engineering and Master of Science degree in both Mechanical Engineering and Technology and Policy, as well as his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


After working as an engineer at IBM, NASA Headquarters and McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, along with academic appointments at both Rice University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, Massimino was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1996. A veteran of two space flights, the fourth and fifth Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions in 2002 and 2009, Massimino has many accomplishments, including a team record for the number of hours spacewalking in a single space shuttle mission and the first person to tweet from space. 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 papers.

Columbia University

Back at his alma mater, Columbia, Massimino is teaching an undergraduate course, Introduction to Human Space Flight, which harnesses his years of academic and professional experience. He is also 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.


When not in academia or at NASA, Massimino has made several television appearances, including a recurring role as himself on the CBS hit comedy The Big Bang Theory. In addition, he frequently appears in specials on the Science, National Geographic and Discovery Channels, along with national and cable news. He is also a favorite guest on many of the late-night talk shows, including The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, where he has appeared as a guest five times.


He was also featured with his crew in the IMAX film Hubble 3D and has been called “the real-life astronaut who inspired George Clooney’s role” in the film Gravity. Mike is currently working on a memoir of his astronaut career to be published by Crown in early 2016.

Views from Space: Leadership, Teamwork, Determination

Mike Massimino 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 trails when in space and beyond. He leaves his audiences 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.

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