by Melody Star | July 29, 2014 12:40 PM PDT
Bill Prady, Simon Helberg (Howard Wolowitz), and Mike Massimino on set of The Big Bang Theory of the Soyuz Spacecraft Photo: cbs.com
During Seasons 5 and 6, Howard Wolowitz (played by Simon Helberg) befriends Mike Massimino, a true NASA astronaut, who joins Howard’s space journey to the International Space Station in the story on The Big Bang Theory. Massimino returned in Season 7 when Howard was having a crisis after NASA calls him wanting him to return to the International Space Station to do some work in The Table Polarization episode.
Well it seems that @astro-Mike is hanging up his helmet and space suit and putting on his teaching cap. Leaving NASA, after being with them nearly two decades, Mike Massimino will be moving to Columbia University, his undergraduate degree Alma Mater, and taking on a full-time teaching position with the University.
Joining NASA in 1996, Massimino has been on two shuttle missions to service the Hubble Telescope and during his final servicing mission in 2009 (STS-125), he was the first astronaut to tweet from space, opening the doors for social media from space to follow. He logged more than 570 hours in space, including 30 hours of spacewalks. Amusingly, his first space shuttle mission was on a ship named Columbia.
“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.
Graduating with his undergraduate degree from Columbia University, Massimino completed four additional degrees form Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); two Master’s degrees – one in Mechanical Engineering and the second in Technology and Policy and he has a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering.
It is ironic that his character on The Big Bang Theory would be dependent on Howard Wolowitz’s Mechanical Engineering skills in the scripts. Sharing another common interest with the character Howard, Massimino served in the Astronaut Office Robotics Branch and the Astronaut Office Extravehicular Activity (EVA, or Spacewalk) Branch. Howard shared common interest in robotics and EVA.
We do hope that with his new position, Massimino will still be able to return from time to time to The Big Bang Theory to give Howard Wolowitz more ribbing. We wish Mike Massimino well in his new position at Columbia University.
More Biographical Information on Mike Massimino