Mike Massimino Keynote Speaker

  • Former NASA Astronaut & NY Times Best Selling Author
  • Columbia University Professor
  • Advisor at The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Mike Massimino's Biography

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.”

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Mike Massimino's Speaking Topics

  • 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.

  • Space: The Final Commercial Frontier: With greater access to space, possibilities are limitless.

For over 50 years, space programs were conducted exclusively by governments. NASA has long hoped to turn over some of its endeavors to private industry. We are now transitioning to programs with new opportunities for private enterprise – NASA’s partnership wth companies like Elon Musk’s Space X, along with commercial ventures such as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Opportunities for commercialization of space seem as endless as space itself, and Mike provides insights into what we can expect.

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Videos of Mike Massimino

'Moonshot' adventure with former NASA astronaut
'Moonshot' adventure with former NASA astronaut
Mike Massimino & Peggy Whitson at the RSA Conference
Mike Massimino & Peggy Whitson at the RSA Conference
Fmr. NASA Astronaut Massimino: Apollo 11 Is Humanity's Greatest Achievement | The 11th Hour | MSNBC
Fmr. NASA Astronaut Massimino: Apollo 11 Is Humanity's Greatest Achievement | The 11th Hour | MSNBC
Mike Massimino -
Mike Massimino - "Moonshot" & Adventures in Space | The Daily Show

Articles, Media & Podcasts

Books by Mike Massimino

Moonshot: A NASA Astronaut’s Guide to Achieving the Impossible
Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe

Comments & Testimonials

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.
CEO, Pfizer
The session went really well! We had almost 300 people from around the world tune in live for Mike's presentation. He told a great story and wove in messages around not giving up on your dreams, teamwork, working in isolation, and a lot of others. We have received extremely good feedback from participants, unsolicited, around his story and message. I think it was a home run or a perfect lift off!
It was a pleasure to listen to the inspirational story of Mike’s journey and how he kept at it despite multiple rejections. A lot to learn and ponder. Success doesn’t come at first attempt. Michael Massimino - Respect!!! Thanks team Virtusa for organizing the event.
We have gotten an incredible amount of positive feedback about your talk, and to say you ‘delivered’ would be a complete understatement. Thank you for helping to inspire my team to be at their best, and for helping Janssen Oncology to DREAM BIG and GO FAR.
OMG – he was awesome! Everyone loved him!! He stayed to sign books and I think all 300 people waited in line to have him do so. We extended lunch by 30 minutes so that everyone could have a chance to meet him, get their photos with him, and get their books signed. Mike is so genuine and so personable. He mingled with everyone before and after his talk. He is truly fabulous. We’ll certainly recommend him to other groups within the United Healthcare Group. We couldn’t have had a better motivator for our team.
United Healthcare
Mike was a hit and made everyone's day. His presentation was really well done and set a great, positive and fun tone for our event. He was an absolute pleasure to work with. We really appreciate all the time he took to speak and take pictures with our customers. Everyone loved him and his keynote was stellar. We absolutely loved having him at Zoomtopia.
We wanted to personally thank you for joining us yesterday. It was truly a pleasure to have you as the keynote speaker for our inaugural client roundtable event. Your anecdotes and engagement with our audience was delightful and set an incredibly positive tone for a very enjoyable dinner. We are sincerely appreciative that you stayed for the entirety of the event and do hope that you enjoyed your time with us. Thank you also for the personalized books, as we are certain that our attendees will take pleasure in reading about your story of resilience in achieving what you had aspired to be at a very young age. Thank you, Mike, for going above and beyond (it was out of this world!)
HSBC Securities

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