Leroy Chiao

Leroy Chiao is a former NASA astronaut and International Space Station commander. He works in business and consulting. Chiao also holds appointments at Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine, and is the special advisor for human spaceflight to the Space Foundation. He has worked extensively in both government and commercial space programs, and has held leadership positions in commercial ventures and NASA. Chiao has extensive experience as a NASA Astronaut and prior to that, as a Research Engineer. Dr. Chiao is a fellow of the Explorers Club, and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics and the Committee of 100. Chiao also serves in various capacities to further space education.

Dr. Chiao left NASA in December, 2005 following a fifteen-year career with the agency. A veteran of four space missions, Dr. Chiao most recently served as Commander and NASA Science Officer of Expedition 10 aboard the International Space Station. He has logged over 229 days in space – over 36 hours of which were spent in Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA, or spacewalks). From June–September 2009, he served as a member of the White House appointed Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, and currently serves on the NASA Advisory Council.

A native English speaker, Dr. Chiao also speaks Mandarin Chinese and Russian. He has flown space missions and worked closely with Russian, Japanese and European Astronauts and their affiliated space agencies. Dr. Chiao is uniquely qualified to speak about the United States, Russian, Japanese, European and Chinese Space Programs. A Space Station Commander and Space Shuttle Mission Specialist, Dr. Chiao was also a certified Co-Pilot of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. He is an expert in all facets of U.S. and Russian EVA hardware and operations and is EVA certified in U.S. and Russian spacesuits, tools, and training programs. In September 2006, Chiao became the first American to visit the Astronaut Research and Training Center of China. There, he met the first two national Chinese astronauts, Yang Liwei and Fei Junlong.

Dr. Chiao studied Chemical Engineering, earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1983. He continued his studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, earning his Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in 1985 and 1987. Prior to joining NASA in 1990, he worked as a Research Engineer at Hexcel Corp. and then at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.


Leading in the International Arena. In this shrinking world and universe, opportunities abound for professionals who realize the importance and advantages of international teams. Understanding nuances, and integrating different cultures and customs, are key to effectiveness. Experience the unique lessons learned from preparing for and flying international space missions, from the perspective of a Chinese-American Astronaut working with Russian, Japanese, European and Canadian astronauts and specialists. 

Positioning Your Endeavor – Technology Innovation Trends. Understanding where innovation is driving technology trends is key to planning the future of your enterprise. Dr. Leroy Chiao is no stranger to this world. He earned three degrees in chemical engineering and a Q-clearance for nuclear secrets at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, before embarking on his 15-year career as a NASA astronaut and space station commander. Since leaving NASA, Chiao has applied his experience in the technology startup world. He is currently the co-founder and president of a space/conservation startup, and has served as CEO of a medical materials company. With this expertise, he offers an exciting glimpse into life on the next quantum level. Dr. Chiao presents a world in which technology is accelerating much more quickly than ever before, presenting new opportunities for you and your business.

Effective Problem Solving: How to Lead Like an Astronaut. Effective operational leadership in solving problems can make the difference between life and death, success and failure. Lessons learned from operational spaceflight apply directly to you and your business! Dr. Leroy Chiao shares his experiences of the commander of a 193-day mission aboard the International Space Station, including real emergency situations. Dr. Chiao uses his personal experience aboard spacecraft to illustrate how reaching for the stars is important, but even more so is honing the operational decision making skills required to not only stay alive, but to thrive.

Is It SADS, Or Am I in Space? Medical Considerations for Spaceflight. Spaceflight is a magical, life-changing experience. However, there is a darker side to the adventure. Serious medical issues, both acute and chronic, occur in every phase of flight, and it is these biomedical challenges that limit our ability to send astronauts on longer and more distant missions – not the technology of spacecraft or technical systems.

In this fascinating presentation, Dr. Chiao weaves the physiological effects of the space environment with his personal stories and adventures in space. In addition, he discusses the synergy between the development of operational countermeasures and diagnostics for spaceflight, and the creation of healthcare solutions on Earth.

Educated as a chemical engineer, Dr. Chiao first became interested in space biomedicine after experiencing changes in physiology during his first Space Shuttle mission. A veteran of four spaceflights, he served as commander and NASA science officer of Expedition-X, a six-and-a-half month mission aboard the International Space Station. After a 15-year NASA astronaut career, Dr. Chiao became the user panel chairman for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, and the biomedical engineering lead for the Center for Space Medicine. Both entities are a part of the Baylor College of Medicine, collocated in the Texas Medical Center.

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