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Leroy Chiao          

Former Astronaut & International Space Station Commander; Commercial Space Flight Pioneer

Astronaut Leroy Chiao, Ph.D. is an entrepreneur, consultant and speaker. Chiao has extensive experience as a NASA Astronaut and prior to that, as a research engineer. He is involved in entrepreneurial business ventures and works in the U.S., China, Japan and Russia. He is an executive vice president and a director of Excalibur Almaz, a private manned spaceflight company.

In addition, he is a director of InNexus, a biotechnology/pharmaceutical development company. Active as a consultant and public speaker, he also serves as the chairman of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute User Panel, which is attached to the Baylor College of Medicine. Chiao is a director of Challenger Center and of the Committee of 100. He is also an advisor and spokesman for the Heinlein Prize Trust.

Chiao left NASA in December, 2005 following a 15-year career with the agency. A veteran of four space missions, Chiao 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).

A native English speaker, 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. Chiao is uniquely qualified to speak about the U.S., Russian, Japanese, European and Chinese space programs. A space station commander and space shuttle mission specialist, 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.

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.

Speech Topics


Dad, Can I Borrow the Keys to the Hovercraft? Your Life On the Next Quantum Level.

No stranger to technology, Dr. Leroy Chiao earned three degrees in chemical engineering and a Q-clearance for nuclear weapons related work at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab before embarking on his 15-year career as a NASA astronaut. With this vast technical expertise, he offers an exciting glimpse into life on the next quantum level and presents a world in which technology is accelerating much more quickly than ever before.

Imagine a world in which you are connected directly to the Internet using thought-controlled computer augmentation and a virtual heads-up display or a world in which sensors can identify you instantly allowing you to travel smoothly and securely, whether you use commercial travel or your automatically piloted vehicle. Imagine a life where personalized medicine allows treatments tailored to your genetics, where replacement organs are grown to be identical to your own. In his presentation, Chiao addresses technology, what is coming around the bend, and what life will be like during the next technological phase.

Leadership Lessons from the International Space Station: Culture, Teamwork and Getting Things Done.

Leading a spaceflight is a demanding endeavor that requires the ultimate in teamwork and multicultural understanding. Cooperation between the flight crew, the ground crew, and everyone at mission control creates a successful mission. Leroy Chiao reveals the team-building lessons he learned from the space program, citing examples of how a leader and the team members who contribute specific, integral work toward a common goal can touch the sky.

How to Think Like an Astronaut: Solving Problems Decisively, Creatively and In Time!

Effective leadership can mean the difference between life and death, success and failure. 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!

Success in Multicultural Space.

In this shrinking world and universe, opportunities abound for professionals who understand the importance and advantages of multicultural teams. 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, Canadian, and American Astronauts and specialists.

View From the On-High: Adventures of a Professional Astronaut.

Experience spaceflight from the on-high perch of the International Space Station. Get the behind-the scenes tour from the Commander of Expedition X. Stunning photographs and personal stories make this an unforgettable experience!

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. These biomedical challenges are what limit our ability to send astronauts on longer and more distant missions, not the technology of spacecraft or technical systems.

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 fifteen-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.

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.

Effective Problem Solving: How to Lead Your Business Like an Astronaut

In space, effective leadership can make the difference between life and death, success and failure – especially during a crisis. In this presentation, Dr. Leroy Chiao shares provocative and awe-inspiring stories from his four space missions, including nail-biting tales of real emergency situations, and shows audiences how lessons learned from operational spaceflight can impact their organizations. Using his personal experience as the commander of a 193-day mission aboard the International Space Station, he illustrates 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 thrive.

With the help of breathtaking photos, he outlines the five key leadership lessons learned from his time in space: 1.) Training is not something you can switch on and off; it must be a continuous learning process, 2.) Keep your eye on the long-term goal, but ensure that you are safe in the short-term so you have time and the capacity to accomplish it, 3.) Keep crises in perspective and make sure you don’t exacerbate a problem, 4.) Ask for help if necessary, but never forget you are ultimately responsible, and 5.) Sometimes immediate action is required; anticipate and be prepared for it. Chiao’s talk is great for leaders in all sectors who work in a complex environment, who take calculated risks, and who “push the envelope.”

Preparing Your Business for the Future – Technology Innovation Trends

Understanding where innovation is driving technology trends is key to planning for the future. Dr. Leroy Chiao is no stranger to this world. He offers an exciting glimpse into life on the next quantum level and shares insights on a world in which technology is accelerating much more quickly than ever before – presenting new opportunities for businesses poised to take action. Imagine a world in which you are connected directly to the Internet using thought-controlled computer augmentation and a virtual heads-up display or a world in which sensors can identify you instantly – allowing you to travel smoothly and securely, whether you use commercial travel or your automatically piloted vehicle. Imagine a life where personalized medicine allows treatments tailored to your genetics, where replacement organs are grown to be identical to your own. Through awe-inspiring stories of his time in space and breathtaking photos, Chiao looks at what is coming around the bend and how organizations can take advantage of the next technological phase.

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.

Motivational: Dare to Dream, Strive to Achieve

In 1969, an eight-year-old boy watched the first Apollo moon landing and dreamed of becoming an Astronaut. He strived, persevered and reached those dreams. Be true to yourself and follow your dreams!

Leadership: Leadership Perspective of an Expedition Commander

Effective leadership can mean the difference between life and death, success and failure. Learn from the experiences of the Commander of a 193-day mission aboard the International Space Station.

Teamwork: Build a Team to Launch Into Orbit and Beyond

Spaceflight is a demanding endeavor that requires the ultimate in teamwork. Apply the lessons learned and practices of the space program; learn firsthand lessons of team building from a space station Mission Commander.

Diversity: Success in Multicultural Space

In this shrinking world and universe, opportunities abound for professionals who understand the importance and advantages of multicultural teams. 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, Canadian and American Astronauts and specialists.

Space: View From the On-High: Adventures of a Professional Astronaut

Experience spaceflight from the on-high perch of the International Space Station. Get the behind-the-scenes tour from the Commander of Expedition X. Stunning photographs and personal stories make this an unforgettable experience!

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