Former astronaut Rick Mastracchio joins Orbital ATK
Orbital ATK has hired former NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio as its new senior director of operations for the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program. The company made the announcement via a June 19, 2017, press release welcoming the three-time Space Shuttle astronaut to its Space Systems Group team.
Orbital ATK is one of two companies working with NASA to regularly resupply the International Space Station with consumables and experiments. Using the Cygnus spacecraft, the Dulles, Virginia-based company has been sending cargo to the outpost since 2013.
Mastracchio, who retired from NASA on June 16, 2017, will be responsible for managing Orbital ATK’s mission and cargo operations teams. Additionally, he will support the company’s other interests in human spaceflight, according to the release, including pursuits beyond low-Earth orbit.
“We are thrilled to welcome Rick Mastracchio to Orbital ATK,” said Frank DeMauro, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK’s Advanced Programs Division. “With his experience as an astronaut and his time spent on the International Space Station, Rick brings a unique understanding of human space flight, making him an invaluable resource for our human space flight endeavors.”
Mastracchio started out at NASA as a member of the Flight Crew Operations Directorate in 1990. Before working for NASA directly, he worked for Rockwell at Johnson Space Center beginning in 1987.
As a member of the Flight Crew Operations Directorate, Mastracchio worked on the Space Shuttle’s avionics software as well as planning ascent and abort procedures. Joining the staff of NASA’s Mission Control in 1993, he served as an ascent/entry Guidance Procedures Officer, supporting 17 missions as a flight controller.
Mastracchio was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996 and began training in August of that year. His first flight was on STS-106 as a mission specialist aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis. He flew again on STS-118 aboard Endeavour, and finally on STS-131 aboard Discovery. All three missions served as assembly and resupply missions to the ISS.
In 2013, Mastracchio flew to the outpost aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and served as a member of Expeditions 38 and 39. It was during this mission that the first Cygnus under the CRS contract, the Orb-1 mission, arrived at the outpost.
In total, Mastracchio has spent 228 days in space across his four spaceflights. During that time, he went on nine spacewalks totaling just over 53 hours.
After his last trip into space, he continued working for NASA as a designer for the cockpit on the Orion spacecraft, building on his experience helping the space agency upgrade the Shuttle’s cockpit in 2003.
“Rick is a classmate and a friend and he has done great work for NASA, both in space and on the ground,” said Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester, who was selected as an astronaut in the same class as Mastracchio. “His breadth of experience over three decades in human spaceflight will serve him well as he moves on to his next endeavor.”
Christopher Paul has had a lifelong interest in spaceflight. He began writing about his interest in the Florida Tech Crimson. His primary areas of interest are in historical space systems and present and past planetary exploration missions. He lives in Kissimmee, Florida, and also enjoys cooking and photography. Paul saw his first Space Shuttle launch in 2005 when he moved to central Florida to attend classes at the Florida Institute of Technology, studying space science, and has closely followed the space program since. Paul is especially interested in the renewed effort to land crewed missions on the Moon and to establish a permanent human presence there. He has covered several launches from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral for space blogs before joining SpaceFlight Insider in mid-2017.