February 14, 2014

Mike Massimino

NASA Astronaut, Mission Specialist

NASA astronaut Mike Massimino is a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, both of which set out to service the Hubble Telescope, including the historic final repair mission in 2009.


  • DOB: August 9, 1962
  • Birth Place: Oceanside, New York
  • Hometown: Franklin Square, New York
  • Residence: Houston, Texas
  • Family: He is married with two children.
  • Education: Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Science; Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Science in Technology and Public Policy, Degree of Mechanical Engineering and PhD in Mechanical Engineering.
  • Hobbies: Mike enjoys baseball, family activities, camping, and coaching kid’s sports.
  • Spaceflights: STS-109; STS-125


  • While at MIT, Mike spent his summers working at NASA in various positions, including general engineer and as a research fellow.

  • After graduating from MIT in 1992, Mike worked at McDonnell Douglas Aerospace in Houston, Texas as a research engineer where he developed laptop computer displays to assist operators of the Space Shuttle missions.

  • Between 1992 and 1996, he took up positions as visiting assistant professor at Rice University and assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology.

  • In 1996, Mike was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA, reporting to Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.

  • Prior to his first space flight assignment, Mike served in the Astronaut Office Robotics Branch; and in the Astronaut Office Extravehicular Activity (EVA or spacewalking) Branch.

  • In 2002, following his first spaceflight, Mike served as a CAPCOM (spacecraft communicator) in Mission Control and as the Astronaut Office Technical Liaison to the Johnson Space Center EVA Program Office.

  • A veteran of two space flights, (STS-109 in March 2002 and STS-125 in May 2009), Mike has logged a total of 571 hours and 47 minutes in space, and a cumulative total of 30 hours and 4 minutes of spacewalking in four spacewalks.

  • In addition to various technical tasks, Mike currently serves as Chief of the Astronaut Appearances Office.

  • He is also "on loan" from Johnson Space Center to Rice University as their Space Institute Executive Director.

  • Since 2011, he has starred in the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory as a recurring character. He plays a fictionalized version of himself and has been featured in four episodes so far.

Space Flight Experience

  • STS-109 Columbia
    STS-109 was the fourth Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. The crew of STS-109 successfully upgraded the Hubble Space Telescope leaving it with a new power unit, a new camera (the Advanced Camera for Surveys), and new solar arrays. STS-109 set a record for spacewalk time with 35 hours and 55 minutes during 5 spacewalks. Mike performed 2 spacewalks totaling 14 hours and 46 minutes. STS-109 orbited the Earth 165 times, and covered 4.5 million statute miles in over 262 hours and 10 minutes.

  • STS-125 Atlantis
    STS-125 was the fifth and final Hubble servicing mission. The 19 year old telescope spent six days in the Shuttles cargo bay undergoing an overhaul conducted by four spacewalkers over five daily spacewalks, with the assistance of crew mates inside the Atlantis. The space walkers overcame frozen bolts, stripped screws, and stuck handrails. STS-125 set a new record for spacewalking with 36 hours and 56 minutes during five spacewalks. Mike performed 2 spacewalks totaling 15 hours and 58 minutes. The refurbished Hubble Telescope now has four new or rejuvenated scientific instruments, new batteries, new gyroscopes, and a new computer. The STS-125 mission traveled 5,276,000 miles in 197 Earth orbits and was accomplished in 309 hours, 37 minutes and 9 seconds.

Mike's Hubble Telescope Spacewalk
Mike is a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, both of which set out to service the Hubble Telescope, including the historic final repair mission in 2009.

  • The Hubble

    In 1990, the Hubble became the first major optical telescope to be positioned in space. The space observatory Hubble takes pictures of stars, planets & galaxies as it whirls around Earth at 17,500 mph.

    In its 20 years it has made more than 930,000 observations and photographed over 570,000 images of 30,000 celestial objects.

    Hubble weighs 24,500 pounds—as much as two full-grown elephants.

    Hubble is 13.3 meters (43.5 feet) long—the length of a large school bus.

    It has already made more than 110,000 trips around our planet and traveled about 2.8 billion miles.

  • Mike's Second Repair Mission

    In 2009, the power supply on the Hubble failed. And there was no way really to replace this unit or to repair the instrument, because it was buttoned up with an access panel that blocked the power supply that had failed. This access panel had 117 small screws with washers, and just to play it safe, they put glue on the screw threads so they would never come apart.

    Mike spent five years practicing this spacewalk. The first thing Mike had to do was to remove a handrail from the telescope that was blocking the access panel. There were four screws to remove but the fourth screw was stuck. Mike’s realized the screw was stripped and that the handrail wasn't coming off, which means he can’t get to the access panel with these 117 screws that he’s been worrying about for five years, which means he can’t get to the power supply that failed, which means he wasn't going to be able to fix this instrument that day. He felt alone in the darkness.

    Mike liaised with Mission Control for the next hour and eventually they suggested he use gaffer tape. They wanted Mike to use that tape to tape the bottom of the handrail and then see if he could yank it off the telescope. They said it was gonna take about sixty pounds of force for him to do that.

    It worked! The handle came off. Then Mike pulled out his power tool, and now he’s got that access panel with those 117 little bitty screws with their washers and glue, and he’s ready to get each one of them. Mike pulled the trigger on the power tool and nothing happens, the battery is dead.

    After swapping out the battery and recharging his oxygen tank the mission went well and the Hubble came back to life. After 8 hours of spacewalking Mike returned to the airlock but with 15 minutes to wait for his colleague was sent back outside just to soak up the magnificent view.

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