Rick Mastracchio (Photo courtesy NASA)

Richard A. “Rick” Mastracchio
(’87 M.S. Electrical Engineering)

NASA Astronaut
Currently an Active Astronaut,
Career Astronaut,
NASA Astronaut Corps

A Rensselaer alumnus who recently (August 2007) served as a mission specialist for the space shuttle Endeavour mission STS-118, during which he completed three spacewalks. How cool is that?! Mr. Mastracchio is a native of Waterbury, Connecticut, who earned his Rensselaer master’s degree at the Hartford Campus.

The space shuttle Endeavour launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on August 8, 2007, and completed a 13-day mission to the International Space Station to continue space station construction by delivering a third starboard truss segment. Mr. Mastracchio conducted several spacewalks or extravehicular activity (EVAs) during the mission. For the latest news on the shuttle program and other space exploration, visit the NASA Web site at:

Astronaut Rick Mastracchio, STS-118 mission specialist, works near the control panel on the aft flight deck of Space Shuttle Endeavour during flight day two activities. (Photo courtesy NASA)

This was the second space shuttle flight for Mr. Mastracchio who flew on the space shuttle Atlantis for mission STS-106 (September 8-20, 2000) and has logged over 283 hours in space. Following the completion of his first space flight, Mr. Mastracchio shared some of his thoughts on the role his educational experience at Rensselaer at Hartford played in his preparation for his career as an astronaut. He explained, “I received my first master’s degree from Rensselaer at Hartford and there is no doubt it had a great impact on my career. As I was finishing up my master’s degree, I sent in my first application to the astronaut selection office. I was a young engineer with 4 or 5 years’ experience and a new master’s degree competing with some of the smartest Ph.D.s, M.D.s, and test pilots in the country for a chance as an astronaut. Well, I was not selected as an astronaut, but I was asked to come to work at the Johnson Space Center as an engineer. When I asked my new boss why my name was pulled from the thousands of applicants, he told me they were looking for young engineers with master’s degrees. This opportunity, along with another master’s degree and a lot of hard work, eventually led to my selection as an astronaut. There is no doubt that my first master’s degree opened up doors that I did not even think possible.”

Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Canadian Space Agency's Dave Williams (out of frame), both STS-118 mission specialists, participate in the mission's first planned session of extravehicular activity (EVA), as construction continues on the International Space Station. During the 6-hour, 17-minute spacewalk Mastracchio and Williams attached the Starboard 5 (S5) segment of the station's truss, retracted the forward heat-rejecting radiator from the station's Port 6 (P6) truss, and performed several get-ahead tasks. (Photo courtesy NASA)

Congratulations to Rick on a safe and successful journey completing mission STS-118. Be sure and check out the Rensselaer Alumni in Space display case located on Level 3 at the Rensselaer Hartford Campus. And, look up in the sky…you just might catch a glimpse of the International Space Station orbiting the earth with an additional truss segment attached, thanks, in part, to Rensselaer alumnus Rick Mastracchio!

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Updated: 2016-05-16, 15:32