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John M. Grunsfeld
Picture of John M. Grunsfeld
John M. Grunsfeld
Associate Administrator, NASA's Science Mission Directorate and Astronaut (Retired)
John in space shuttle Columbia's cargo bay during a 2002 spacewalk.

Dr. John M. Grunsfeld was named associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters (HQ) in Washington, D.C. in January 2012. Dr. Grunsfeld's background includes research in high energy astrophysics, cosmic ray physics and in the emerging field of exoplanet studies with specific interest in future astronomical instrumentation.

John led the team that successfully
serviced and upgraded the Hubble
Space Telescope in 2009.
John Grunsfeld

As a child, John dreamed of becoming an astronaut. He studied science and his dream came true. A veteran of five space flights, STS-67 (1995), STS-81 (1997), STS-103 (1999) STS-109 (2002) and STS-125 (2009), John has logged more than 58 days in space, including 58 hours and 30 minutes of extravehicular activities (EVA) in eight spacewalks. He visited the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) three times as an astronaut to service and upgrade the observatory.

John earned his bachelor's degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1980. Returning to his native Chicago, he earned a master's degree and, in 1988, a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago. His doctoral thesis was based on a cosmic ray experiment on the space shuttle Challenger. He then joined the faculty of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) as a senior research fellow in physics, mathematics and astronomy.

John joined NASA's astronaut corps in 1992. He qualified for flight selection as a mission specialist and was assigned as the lead for the development of portable computers for use in space.

He first flew to space aboard Endeavour in March 1995 on a mission that studied the far ultraviolet spectra of faint astronomical objects using the Astro-2 Observatory. His second flight was aboard Atlantis in January 1997. This mission docked with the Russian space station Mir, exchanged U.S. astronauts living aboard the outpost and performed scientific research using the Biorack payload. John flew on three more shuttle missions -- Discovery in December 1999, Columbia in March 2002 (payload commander) and Atlantis in May 2009 (lead spacewalker in charge of Hubble activities) -- that successfully serviced and upgraded HST.

After the 1999 mission, he served as NASA's chief of extravehicular activity. John also was an instructor in the Extravehicular Activity Branch and Robotics Branch of the astronaut program and worked on the exploration concepts and technologies for use beyond low Earth orbit in the Advanced Programs Branch.

In 2004 and 2005, John was the commander and science officer on the backup crew for Expedition 13 to the International Space Station (ISS). He also served as the NASA Chief Scientist detailed to NASA HQ from 2003 to 2004. In this position, he helped develop President George W. Bush's "Vision for Space Exploration."

He retired from NASA in December 2009 and served as deputy director for the Space Telescope Science Institute, in Baltimore, Md., managing the science program for HST and its partner in the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope. He returned to NASA in January 2012 as the associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA HQ in Washington. One facet of John's duties as associate administrator is representing NASA's current and future space science programs and projects to Congress, the media and the public.

John and his wife Carol have two children. Some of his favorite pastimes include: mountaineering, flying, sailing, bicycling and music.

Awards and Recognitions:

  • W.D. Grainger Fellow in Experimental Physics (1988 to 1989)
  • NASA Graduate Student Research Fellow (1985 to 1987)
  • NASA Space Flight Medals (1995, 1997, 1999 and 2002)
  • NASA Exceptional Service Medals (1997, 1998 and 2000)
  • NASA Distinguished Service Medal (2002)
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Chicago
  • Alumni Service Award, University of Chicago
  • Komarov Diploma (1995)
  • Korolov Diploma (1999 and 2002)
  • NASA Constellation Award (2004)
  • Society of Logistics Engineers and Space Logistics Medal (2006)

For more information about NASA's Science Mission Directorate, visit: http://nasascience.nasa.gov.


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Last Updated: 10 April 2013


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Last Updated: 10 Apr 2013