President, Virgin Galatic
BS Physics and Astronomy ’89, MSAAE ’95
For monumental efforts in aiding safe and successful space shuttle missions, and for helping move human spaceflight into the era of tourism and commercial services for research and educational experiments
As president of Virgin Galactic, a company working to send tourists into outer space, Michael Moses makes good use of the critical-thinking skills he learned at Purdue and spent 16 years refining at NASA. He says those skills are what he values most from his Purdue education.
“Purdue taught me how to solve problems that didn’t have answers in the back of the book,” Moses says. “This critical thinking, and being able to decide what exactly needed to be answered first, has really helped me in my career.”
It has been an exceptional career, indeed. During his last three years with NASA, Moses oversaw 12 space shuttle missions from launch through landing as the shuttle program’s launch integration manager. The go-no-go decisions fell to him. He is a two-time recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, one of the space agency’s most prestigious medals, as well as other NASA commendations and awards.
Today Moses thrives on playing a major role in the advent of civilian space flight by leading his Virgin Galactic team in all aspects of the commercial human spaceflight program, including vehicle processing, flight planning, astronaut training and flight-crew operations.
“I use the words ‘fun’ and ‘cool’ a whole lot in this job,” Moses says in a YouTube video published by Virgin Galatic. “One of the best things I did, I think, in my old job was to put those folks into space to accomplish big things, and I will always carry that on my resume,” he says in reference to his roles with NASA. “But I think it will be replaced by the chance to be part of the team that gets to fly more people into space than ever before.”
After years working in teams of highly skilled engineers, Moses says he has found that Purdue-educated engineers are consistently a cut above those with other engineering degrees.
“Purdue engineers usually excel when given only half the problem and are left to figure out what to do next on their own,” he says. “This is an invaluable advantage and really sets Purdue grads apart from the pack.”
Asked what advice he would offer current Purdue engineering students, Moses suggests a hard focus on the “why” in their work: “It is really hard to learn just how important systems interactions and systems integration is to real-world engineering without being embedded in real-world projects. Gather as much of the ‘why’ things are acting the way they are and spend as much time on that as you spend on just solving the equations.”
The most important thing is to help.”
|President, Virgin Galactic
|Senior Vice President, Operations, Virgin Galactic
|Vice President, Operations, Virgin Galactic
|Launch Integration Manager, Space Shuttle Program, John F. Kennedy Space Center, NASA
|Flight Director, Space Shuttle Program, NASA
|Flight Controller Group Lead, Shuttle Electrical Systems, NASA
|Flight Controller Group Lead, Shuttle Propulsion Systems, NASA
|Flight Controller, Shuttle Propulsion Systems, NASA
|Flight Controller, Shuttle Propulsion Systems, United Space Alliance, Space Shuttle operations for NASA Mission Operations
|BS Physics and Astronomy, Purdue University
|MS Space Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology
|MS Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Purdue University