NASA Stories: Personal Stories About My Time at NASA


  • The Idea for

  • Stories From the Early Years

  • Stories From the Later Years

  • Stories From Others

  • All NASA Stories

The idea for started as a series of posts on LinkedIn that I called the Make NASA Great series.

Shortly after leaving NASA in 2022 (okay, I retired, but I hate that word), I signed up on LinkedIn and asked my handful of friends to connect with me. From there, I started writing stories that highlighted points along my journey as an engineer inside NASA.

In the series, I described how seeing Challenger break apart while I was in college made me want to work at NASA. I shared the story of my first day at NASA, seeing my first full-scale solid rocket motor test, and working at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on 911 when the planes crashed into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon.

One of the highlights of doing the Make NASA Great series was creating the artwork for each piece. I used a team of a dozen or so artists from all over the world to help me create the images. In many cases, the drawings turned out better than I could have envisioned.

It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed working with each and every artist. It was an amazing experience—a real blessing in my life. The drawing below is the piece I had drawn for my first article. Each crew member was drawn individually by hand and then put together with the explosion in the background.

F. Richard Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe

Stories From Others

In the series, I also shared a guest post from a young lady who aspires to be an astronaut and one from the son of the first astronaut who flew in space untethered.

Somewhere along this journey, however, I began to realize that LinkedIn wasn’t the best platform to host things you want people to be able to find and read months later. By my unscientific calculations, LinkedIn posts have a shelf life of about one day.

With careful consideration, I decided to build as my permanent platform. Then came the work of designing and building this site.

Unpublished Articles From the Vault

In the articles below, I’ll share the stories I published on LinkedIn and the ones I was too afraid to.

I stopped putting articles on LinkedIn when I got to the point when the Shuttle was canceled. If I’m honest, it’s because I noticed the tone of my words shifted from a young engineer fascinated with anything to do with space to an older engineer frustrated that SpaceX was the only game in town with the skillset to build a new launch vehicle.

Living through the cancellations of Ares and Constellation signaled to engineers on the inside smart enough to follow New Space that the fat lady was warming up to sing. On top of that, a flawed NASA that can launch astronauts into space feels very different than a flawed NASA that can’t.

I wasn’t ready to share all that on LinkedIn. Now, I am.

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About the Author

David Mixson writes about Old Space and New Space. He worked as an engineer at NASA for more than thirty years and is the author of three books.