Memoirs of a SEAS Astronaut

(Image courtesy of Crown Archetype)

Astronaut and Columbia Engineering Professor of Professional Practice Mike Massimino BS’84 is set to publish his first book, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe, this October.

Mike’s memoir delves deeply into his remarkable career as a NASA astronaut, engineer, adventurer, and mentor. From witnessing Neil Armstrong’s historic “small step for man” while growing up in Long Island to his torturously circuitous path to NASA, Mike details his journey into space, including his personal experiences on two space flights to the Hubble Space Telescope (STS-109 in March 2002 and STS-125 in May 2009) and of losing close friends in the space shuttle Columbia disaster.

After studying at Columbia Engineering and MIT and obtaining two patents for his work in human operator control of space robotics systems, Mike worked as a research engineer and pursued his lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut. Rejected three times by NASA, he was told his eyesight would never be good enough. Undaunted, he was finally accepted on his fourth try, beginning an extraordinary 18 years in which he logged more than 570 hours in space. He became a spacewalker on the final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope and the first to tweet from orbit. He set a team record with crewmates for the most cumulative spacewalking time in a single shuttle mission.

In 2014, Mike returned to Morningside Heights as professor of professional practice in mechanical engineering at SEAS. He also leads Columbia’s Extreme Engineering program, a speaker and video series that showcases exploration and innovation at the edge of what is possible.

On Earth, he has become a much sought-after speaker and ambassador for STEM education, giving talks around the world; advising the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum; and playing himself in a recurring role on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory. Of his new memoir, Mike says, “I hope to convey to the readers of the book that one should never give up in pursuit of a dream, how rewarding it can be to be involved in a technical career you truly love, and just how cool it is to fly in space.”

—by Jesse Adams