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Steve  Smith

Steve Smith

Senior Astronaut, Stanford Engineer and MBA & Tech Manager

Steve Smith

Senior Astronaut, Stanford Engineer and MBA & Tech Manager


Steve Smith made an audacious childhood dream to be an astronaut come true despite multiple setbacks. He is one of America’s most experienced astronauts with 4 spaceflights and 7 spacewalks to repair the Hubble Space Telescope and to build the Space Station. At the conclusion of his career he was the third most experienced spacewalker in history and he twice received NASA’s highest honor, The Distinguished Service Medal.

Steve’s path to space was long – three decades – and arduous. That path included a life-changing near-death experience as a youth, an MBA and two engineering degrees from Stanford, elite national athletics success, tenure as an IBM Product Manager, a medical rejection by the Air Force, four astronaut application rejections by NASA, and a medical rejection by NASA. He relentlessly pursued his childhood dream.

At NASA he was the first in his class named to a flight and quickly rose to the Deputy Chief Astronaut leadership position – the number two Corps’ position – where he led the daily operations of the 125-member Astronaut Corps. He led multiple failure reviews, operations teams, and spacewalking crews. After his flight career, he served as a Diplomat living overseas for a decade and conducted NASA negotiations with European and Russian space agencies. 

Steve now uses his one-of-a-kind mix of experiences to serve as a board director, venture capital advisor, and keynote speaker.  He credits hard-won lessons learned and a resulting set of principles, which he calls the “explorer’s mindset,” for giving him the creativity, will, and grit to achieve his goal and succeed as an astronaut, decision maker, and leader. In his speeches he shares the magic of spaceflight and motivates audiences to use the explorer’s mindset and practices to improve individual, team, and leadership performance in today’s dynamic, fast-paced business environment.

Speaker Videos

Speaking Reel

Intro Video

Path to Success: The Explorer's Mindset

Passion for Earth

Overcoming Disappointment

Recipe for Teamwork

Payoff from Preparation

Consistent Efforts

Speech Topics

An Astronaut’s Journey: How to Live Your Dream

Steve Smith has traveled fast… really fast: Mach 25. That’s 25 times the speed of sound. He did it only after a three-decade effort to fulfill a childhood dream expressed in several of his colorful childhood drawings. Along the way, NASA rejected him four times and even rejected him permanently (or so thought NASA) by medically disqualifying him. Steve describes what inspired him to persevere, providing advice for audiences of all ages on overcoming challenges and disappointment. He’ll also share what it was like to live his dream: riding the rocket on four space missions, performing seven spacewalks and traveling 16 million miles.

Through his personal stories, gorgeous photos, and a passion and skill for sharing his space experiences, Steve reveals how spaceflight can be everything from joyous to serious to humorous. Seeing our planet from a distance brought Steve both awe at its beauty and concern for its environmental fragility. He saw an island in a vast ocean. Steve’s perspective inspires us to be good to nature – and to each other.

The Explorer’s Mindset: Business Lessons from Earth Orbit

Space is a dangerous and unpredictable environment. To cope with risky and dynamic environments, explorers throughout history have always relied on the critical attributes of creative thinking, resilience to setbacks and perseverance. These skills are what defines the “Explorer’s Mindset.”

Early in life, Astronaut Steve Smith was inspired to adopt the tenacity and habits of iconic explorers. He applied that mindset to guide him on his long path to NASA and to succeed and survive as an astronaut. In this speech, Steve will reveal how individuals and teams can and must adopt the explorer’s mindset so they too can thrive in today’s fast-paced, dynamic business environment.

Leadership at 17500 Miles Per Hour

Strong, effective leadership is a cornerstone of exploration ventures where leaders must make difficult decisions under pressure and lives are at risk. Leaders in the human spaceflight business process massive amounts of information in a complex, dynamic and fast-paced environment under the added constraints of budgets, stakeholders, schedules and growing foreign and domestic competition. Business leaders face a similar environment in today’s global economy and can benefit from exploration leadership techniques.

In this talk, Steve describes the practices of leadership in the hazardous and dynamic field of human spaceflight. He also reveals how these practices can be used by business leaders on Earth to become more effective in today’s competitive global business arena.