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Astronaut Mike Massimino Departs NASA for University Position

After almost two decades with NASA, including two space shuttle missions, astronaut Mike Massimino left the space agency Monday for a full-time position with Columbia University in New York.

Massimino’s experience at NASA includes two shuttle missions to service the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope. During the final servicing mission, STS-125 in 2009, Massimino became the first astronaut to tweet from space, which led to a significant social media following.

“Mike has played a significant role within the astronaut office in his time here,” said Bob Behnken, Chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “His technical expertise was extremely helpful in the many roles he fulfilled, not the least of which was his part in the successful Hubble servicing missions.”
“Mike embraced the opportunity to engage with the public in new ways and set the stage for more space explorers to be able to share their mission experience directly with people around the globe. We wish him well in his new role fostering the dreams and innovations of students just beginning their career paths,” Behnken said.
A native of New York, Massimino earned his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and went on to accrue four additional degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He holds two master’s degrees, one in mechanical engineering and a second in technology and policy, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering.

Massimino joined NASA in 1996. Prior to his first spaceflight assignment, he served in the Astronaut Office Robotics Branch and in the Astronaut Office Extravehicular Activity (EVA, or spacewalk) Branch. Following his first spaceflight, he served in 2002 as a spacecraft communicator in mission control and as the Astronaut Office Technical Liaison to Johnson’s EVA Program Office.

He also logged more than 570 hours in space, including 30 hours of spacewalks. His first mission was STS-109 in 2002, during which the seven-person Columbia crew successfully upgraded Hubble with a new power unit, Advanced Camera for Surveys, and solar arrays. STS-109 set a mission record for spacewalk time with 35 hours and 55 minutes over five spacewalks. Massimino performed two spacewalks during STS-109 totaling 14 hours and 46 minutes.

During STS-125, Massimino spent six days servicing and upgrading Hubble with the assistance of crewmates aboard shuttle Atlantis. STS-125 overtook the record set on STS-109, with 36 hours and 56 minutes over five spacewalks. Massimino’s spacewalks on this mission totaled 15 hours and 58 minutes.

For Astronaut Mike Massimino’s complete NASA biography, visit:


Stephanie Schierholz
Headquarters, Washington
Nicole Cloutier-Lemasters
Johnson Space Center, Houston