Norman Chaffee

  • Position: Founding Director & Outreach Advisor
  • 50 years veteran of Space Industry

Awards & Citations

  • Engineer of the Year, NASA Johnson Space Center, 1987
  • NASA Exceptional Service Medals, 1983, 1991
  • NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, 1993
  • National Professional Service Award, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1989
  • Manager of the Year, National Management Association, 1986
  • NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal for Education, 2007
  • Texas Department of Education Heroes of Children Award, 2008


Norman Chaffee is a veteran of over 50 years experience in the aerospace industry at the NASA Johnson Space Center, focused on the design, development, and operation of manned spacecraft and their systems.  His expertise is in propulsion and power systems; robotics; biomedical engineering; systems engineering and integration; and program management.

He held a number of senior positions in these areas at the NASA Johnson Space Center, from 1962 – 1998. Since 1998 he has worked as a consultant, contractor, and volunteer for the Johnson Space Center Education Office, specializing in the design and implementation of unique STEM programs for middle school and high school students. He has served as the Manager of the highly successful Space Settlement Design Competition for High School Students from 1999 to 2012.

NASA Experience

  • Various positions in the NASA Propulsion and Power Division, 1962 - 1983, achieving position of Deputy Division Chief, 1979 - 1983.
  • Chief Engineer for Technical Program Integration, International Space Station Program, 1983 -1987.
  • Chief of Systems Engineering and Integration, NASA Lunar and Mars Exploration Program Office, 1988 - 1990
  • Acting Program Manager, NASA Lunar and Mars Exploration Program Office, 1990 - 1991
  • Deputy Chief, Automation and Robotics Division, 1991 - 1996
  • Education Outreach Specialist, NASA Education Office, 1996 - 1998

Other Activities

  • Director, NASA Alumni League, 1997 - 2003
  • President, NASA Alumni League, 2003 – 2008
  • Secretary, NASA Alumni League, 2008 to present
  • Co-Founder and technical advisor of NASA's Johnson Space Center FIRST Robotics Teams for Local School Districts, 1992 - 2000
  • Judge for First Robotic Challenge (FTC) Competitions for Southeast Texas region, held annually at San Jacinto College, 2010 - 2012
  • Advisor for “SYSTEMS GO” student rocket design/launch competition for southeast Texas, 2011 - 2012


  • Attended Rice University, Houston, TX; and University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK
  • Degrees: BS and MS, Chemical Engineering, University of Tulsa, 1961 and 1962
  • Certificate in Public Administration, University of Houston
  • Senior Executive Program, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Senior Executive Training Program, NASA
  • Senior Executive Training Program, US Civil Service Commission