About Mike Massimino - Former NASA Astronaut, NY Times Bestselling Author, Media & TV Personality; Columbia University Professor:
A spacewalker on the final two Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions, Mike Massimino and his crews traveled faster (Mach 26) and higher (350 miles) than any other astronauts in the 21st century while increasing the discovery capabilities of arguably the greatest scientific instrument ever built by a factor of 100.
During the final Hubble servicing mission, Mike was faced with both success and life-threatening challenges as he performed the most intricate repair ever attempted in space. Mike set a team record for cumulative spacewalking time on a single space shuttle mission, was the last person to work inside of the Hubble Space Telescope, and was the first person to tweet from space. He persisted through three rejections over 7 years on his way to becoming an astronaut, including overcoming a medical disqualification by training his eyes and brain to see better.
Mike has made numerous television appearances, including a recurring role as himself on the CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory. He was the host for the Science Channel Series The Planets and Beyond, a commentator on Discovery Channel’s Space Launch Live, and was featured in National Geographic
Television’s One Strange Rock and in the Netflix series Worn Stories. Mike is a frequent guest on morning shows and late-night television including The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The Late Show with David Letterman, and a guest expert on network and cable news including NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNBC.
Mike’s first 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. His second book, Spaceman: The True Story of a Young Boy’s Journey to Becoming an Astronaut (for young readers) is a National Science Teachers Association 2021 Best STEM Book Winner.
Mike uses humor and his unique storytelling ability to inspire audiences to identify the passion in their work, to use teamwork and innovation to solve problems, to provide leadership in the face of adversity and crisis, and to never give up when pursuing a goal.
What Mike Massimino Talks About:
One Out of a Million is Not Zero: When the odds are against you, do it anyway
Mike’s dream of becoming an astronaut began when he was six years old watching Neil Armstrong take 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 and brain to “see better.” His persistence paid off when he was selected to be an astronaut on his fourth try. Mike stresses that as long as you keep trying, no matter the obstacles, achieving your goal is possible.
The Team’s Success is Your Success: You cannot do this alone. You will succeed or fail as a team
The culture at NASA emphasized the importance of teamwork, and put the success of the team and the mission above individual accomplishments. Strong relationships between team members were forged through the extraordinary experiences that Mike and his fellow astronauts shared during their training and spaceflights. This teamwork enabled them to successfully complete their training, overcome tragedy, build the International Space Station, and repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Mike discusses how the NASA models for teamwork and leadership can be applied to the business world and in life.
Find Another Way Around: When you think all hope is lost, it’s not
On the final Space Shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, Mike was tasked with the most complicated spacewalk ever attempted: the in-space repair of a delicate scientific instrument. Mike made a major error during that spacewalk, but the ground control team and the astronauts in space worked together to come up with an innovative solution that saved the day and the mission. Although not every problem has an obvious solution, Mike explains how preparation, innovation and creativity can help us with overcoming unforeseen challenges.
Get Ready to Pivot: Change is a constant, be ready to adapt
Mike’s second space flight was one of the last of the Space Shuttle Program. It was time for NASA to retire the space shuttle and move on to the next phase in space exploration, which included relying heavily on private companies and on automation. Many at NASA did not want to accept these changes. But the last few years have shown that those who accepted these changes have thrived, while those who resisted are no longer contributing. Technological progress and entrepreneurship are needed in every industry, and the NASA team learned to embrace the changes in order to move on to that next phase. Our future in space is bright because of these changes.
An Astronaut’s View of Planet Earth: We are living in a paradise, remember the big picture
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 the Earth 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.
Our leaders were inspired by your story and I believe walked away with a renewed sense of purpose and ready to focus on our new aspiration and goal. Your determination has encouraged us to think differently and be more courageous in our pursuits to impact society.