John Grunsfeld joined The Planetary Society’s Board of Directors in 2022. He is an astronaut and scientist with extensive experience as a leader in space and science missions and national space policy.
He has served as a NASA astronaut, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, and Chief Scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He led the development of NASA’s Earth Science, Astrophysics, Planetary Science, and Heliophysics science activities, including the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the NOAA weather satellite program. While at NASA, he ensured microphones were put on the Perseverance Rover. Previously he served as the Deputy Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, managing the science program for the Hubble Space Telescope and JWST.
John’s scientific research is in planetary science and the emerging field of exoplanet studies with a specific interest in future astronomical instrumentation and the search for life beyond Earth.
John joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1992. He is a veteran of five space shuttle flights (STS-67, STS-81, STS-103, STS-109, and STS-125), of which three flights were to the Hubble Space Telescope. He performed eight spacewalks to service and upgrade the Hubble observatory, becoming known as the “Hubble Repairman.” He has logged more than 58 days in space on his shuttle missions, including 58 hours and 30 minutes of spacewalk time. In 2004-2005, he served as the commander and science officer on the backup crew for Expedition 13 to the International Space Station.
In 2015 Grunsfeld was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. He is a Fellow of the American Astronomical Society and has received numerous awards, including the National Space Trophy, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Leadership Medal, and the AIAA Education Award.
Originally from the Chicago area, John graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in physics. He earned a master's degree and, in 1988, a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago. From Chicago, he joined the faculty of the California Institute of Technology as a Senior Research Fellow in Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. He was appointed a Professor of Physics at the Johns Hopkins University in 2010.
He resides in Colorado and is also an avid explorer, enjoying mountaineering, bicycling, sailing, and flying small aircraft.
Latest Planetary Radio Appearances
Astrophysicist, former astronaut and NASA associate administrator John Grunsfeld on human exploration of space and the science we will do there.
We were there when the Cassini spacecraft ended 13 years of exploration and revelation at Saturn.
Astrophysicist and former astronaut John “Hubble Repairman” Grunsfeld looks back over three decades of beautiful science and inspiration delivered by the Hubble Space Telescope.