A former astronaut’s lessons on life’s challenges and leadership — and dealing with mistakes

By James Rogers

In his e book ‘Moonshot — A NASA Astronaut’s Information to Reaching the Unimaginable,’ Mike Massimino describes how astronauts sort out challenges

We are able to all relate to the frustration of attempting to take away a stripped screw, however, for Mike Massimino, one explicit mangled screw was greater stakes than your typical DIY headache.

In 2009, the then-astronaut was in area, floating subsequent to the physique of the Hubble Area Telescope and struggling to take away one of many screws that mounted a handrail to one of many telescope’s instrument panels.

Massimino was working to exchange the ability provide to Hubble Area Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, one in all its most essential scientific devices. Floating excessive above the Earth, a handrail wanted to return off earlier than Massimino may take away one other 111 screws and get to the instrument panel.

“The best job was going to be elimination of a handrail,” Massimino instructed MarketWatch, noting that the ability provide alternative was probably the most sophisticated restore ever tried on the Hubble Area Telescope. “100 new instruments had been designed for this job,” he added. Whereas the primary three screws that hooked up the handrail got here out simply, Massimino bumped into an issue on the fourth and closing screw — he had stripped it together with his energy instrument and now it would not budge.

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Massimino tried totally different bits, however nothing would work. His fellow crewmembers on the area shuttle had been additionally working with NASA’s Johnson Area Middle in Houston to try to resolve the issue. Ultimately, a workforce at NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Middle in Maryland got here up with an answer — rip off the handrail. This, nevertheless, was not with out its dangers, resembling doubtlessly puncturing Massimino’s spacesuit, or sending particles flying that would harm the area telescope.

“They’d me tape the underside of the handrail,” Massimino instructed MarketWatch. After giving the handrail “a few shakes” the astronaut then efficiently yanked it away from the aspect of Hubble. “It got here off, no downside,” he mentioned, and there was no particles.

Massimino’s tales are a part of his newest e book “Moonshot — A NASA Astronaut’s Information to Reaching the Unimaginable,” which is out on Dec. fifth.

“Get assist, do not shut down,” he instructed MarketWatch, explaining that his time working at NASA taught him essential classes about teamwork, management, talking out, and in addition reaching out for assist.

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Born in 1962, Massimino grew up in what he described as a “working-class neighborhood” in Franklin Sq., Lengthy Island. The Columbia College and MIT graduate was chosen as a NASA astronaut candidate in Could 1996 and flew aboard Columbia and Atlantis Area Shuttle in 2002 and 2009. He accomplished 4 spacewalks throughout these missions, lasting a complete of 30 hours and 4 minutes. Massimino left NASA in 2014 and is now a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia.

Massimino realized essential management classes from Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth man to stroll on the moon. “He instructed me that the important thing to being chief and teammate is to discover a option to look after and admire everybody in your workforce,” Massimino mentioned. “I heard it from him, most likely, once I had been an astronaut for 9 months — he got here to speak to our astronaut class.”

One of many chapters in Massimino’s e book is dedicated to “pivoting,” with an evidence of Bean’s pivot to portray after 18 years as an astronaut.

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The e book additionally addresses errors, and the way to deal with them. “You are going to make errors, you’ve got to discover ways to take care of them,” Massimino instructed MarketWatch, recounting an incident when he cracked the visor on his helmet whereas coaching in a NASA pool. “I used to be transferring too rapidly — they needed to pull me out of the water to examine [the visor]. I used to be so embarrassed,” he mentioned. “I used to be instructed: ‘, man, you made that mistake, however you must let it go — you’ve got the entire sport in entrance of you.'”

At NASA, Massimino and his colleagues had a way for overcoming the emotions that observe a mistake. “We had the 30-second rule — 30 seconds of remorse after which transfer on,” he mentioned.

With regard to alter, the astronaut noticed the arrival of personal area firms in direction of the tip of his area profession. Nearly 10 years later, the likes of SpaceX, Blue Origin, Axiom Area and Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (SPCE), are reshaping the area business, together with United Launch Alliance, which is a three way partnership between Boeing Co. (BA) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT). “It provides extra alternative for folks … what we’re taking a look at for the long run may be very promising,” Massimino mentioned.

For example, the professor defined how his college students at Columbia have been capable of ship two analysis tasks to area — one on a Blue Origin car, and one other that traveled to and from the Worldwide Area Station by way of SpaceX.

Podcast: The way forward for area exploration

-James Rogers

This content material was created by MarketWatch, which is operated by Dow Jones & Co. MarketWatch is printed independently from Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Avenue Journal.


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