Gregory Chamitoff
Gregory Errol Chamitoff

(1962-08-06) August 6, 1962 (age 61)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
EducationCalifornia Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (BS)
California Institute of Technology (MS)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD)
University of Houston (MS)
Space career
NASA astronaut
Time in space
198d 18h 2m
SelectionNASA Group 17 (1998)
MissionsSTS-124/126 (Expedition 17/18)
Mission insignia
Scientific career
ThesisRobust Intelligent Flight Control for Hypersonic Vehicles (1992)

Gregory Errol Chamitoff (born 6 August 1962) is a Canadian-born American[1][2] engineer and former NASA astronaut. He has been to space twice, spending 6 months aboard the ISS across Expedition 17 and 18 in 2008, and another 15 days as part of STS-134 in 2011. STS-134 was the last of Space Shuttle Endeavour which delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and completed the US Orbital Segment.[3]

In 2008, Chamitoff[4] voted from outer space;[5] he also conducted a live-from-space satellite chat with students attending school in London.[6]

Early life and education

Chamitoff was born 6 August 1962 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to a Jewish family of Russian origin.[1][2][7] He was inspired to become an astronaut after watching the Apollo 11 Moon landing at the age of six.[8]

His education includes:

Early career

As an undergraduate student at Cal Poly, Chamitoff taught lab courses in circuit design and worked summer internships at Four Phase Systems, Atari Computers, Northern Telecom, and IBM. He developed a self-guided robot for his undergraduate thesis project. While at MIT and Draper Labs (1985–1992), Chamitoff worked on several NASA projects. He performed stability analyses for the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope, designed flight control upgrades for the Space Shuttle autopilot, and worked on the attitude control system for Space Station Freedom. His doctoral thesis developed a new approach for robust intelligent flight control of hypersonic vehicles.

From 1993 to 1995, Chamitoff was a visiting professor at the University of Sydney, Australia, where he led a research group in the development of autonomous flight vehicles, and taught courses in flight dynamics and control. He has published numerous papers on aircraft and spacecraft guidance and control, trajectory optimization, and Mars mission design.[3]

NASA career

In 1995, Chamitoff joined the Motion Control Systems Group in the Mission Operations Directorate at the Johnson Space Center, where he developed software applications for spacecraft attitude control monitoring, prediction, analysis, and maneuver optimization.

Selected by NASA for the Astronaut Class of 1998, Chamitoff started training in August 1998 and qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist in 2000. He worked in the Space Station Robotics branch, was lead CAPCOM for ISS Expedition 9, acted as crew support astronaut for ISS Expedition 6, and helped develop onboard procedures and displays for Space Station system operations.[3]

In July 2002, Chamitoff was a crew-member on the Aquarius undersea research habitat for 9 days as part of the NEEMO 3 mission (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations).[9]

He served as the backup Expedition 15/16 Flight Engineer 2 and STS-117/STS-120 Mission Specialist 5 for Clayton Anderson.

While aboard the space shuttle, he spoke with Michael Sobell Sinai School students via a live satellite link.[6][10]

Expedition 17 and 18

Tennis balls that Chamitoff and Garriott juggled while aboard the ISS

Chamitoff served on a long-duration mission to the International Space Station. He launched as a mission specialist on board Space Shuttle mission STS-124. He was flight engineer 2 and science officer on Expedition 17. He returned home as a mission specialist on STS-126, completing a tour that lasted six months.[3]

As part of his personal allowance, Chamitoff brought the first bagels into space, 3 bags (18 sesame seed bagels) of Fairmount Bagels with him, from his cousin's bagel bakery.[11][12] He also bought a velcro chess set and started playing games against mission control, which got quite competitive.[13] Chamitoff also placed a Mezuzah shaped like a rocket made by British-Israeli silversmith Laura Cowan "on the door post near his bunk bed" on the International Space Station.[14][15][16]

While Richard Garriott was aboard the ISS at the beginning of Expedition 18, Chamitoff and Garriott filmed the first magic show in space, and along with Yury Lonchakov, Michael Fincke and Richard Garriott, filmed a science-fiction movie made in space, Apogee of Fear.[17]

After conducting experiments with the SPHERES during his mission, he founded the Zero Robotics competition, where high school students program the robots.[18]


Chamitoff served as a mission specialist on STS-134, the penultimate Space Shuttle mission, during which he made two spacewalks, the last of which completed the construction of the ISS.[19]


Post-NASA career

Chamitoff is currently the Lawrence Hargrave Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Sydney, Australia[20] and a Professor of Engineering Practice in the Aerospace Engineering Department at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. He instructs senior design, human spaceflight operations, and dynamics and controls for aerospace vehicles.[3]

Awards and honors

Chamitoff has received the following honors and awards:[3]

Personal life

Chamitoff is married to Alison Chantal Caviness, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. They have two children.[3]

Chamitoff's recreational interests include scuba diving, backpacking, flying, skiing, racquetball, Aikido, juggling, magic and guitar. He is a certified divemaster and instrument rated pilot. Chamitoff also enjoys chess and has played games with people on earth while living in the ISS.[23]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. ^ a b Lazarus, David (March 26, 2008). "Former Montrealer heading into space". The Canadian Jewish News.
  2. ^ a b "Shuttle lifts off with Montreal-born astronaut aboard". CBC News. 31 May 2008. Now a U.S. citizen, Chamitoff was born in Montreal ...
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Biographical Data:GREGORY ERROL CHAMITOFF (PH.D.) NASA ASTRONAUT" (PDF). NASA. July 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  4. ^ and fellow astronaut Michael Fincke
  5. ^ "Texans have been able to vote from space for nearly two decades, NASA says". Los Angeles Times. November 8, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Pupils talk to astronaut". BBC. September 25, 2008.
  7. ^ "Preflight Interview: Gregory Chamitoff". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Archived from the original on 2008-06-28. Retrieved 2008-06-04. my whole family's from Montreal, although a generation before that they're from Russia
  8. ^ Alkira Reinfrank (23 July 2016). "Former NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff talks deep space with Canberra students". ABC News. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  9. ^ NASA (April 21, 2011). "Life Sciences Data Archive : Experiment". NASA. Archived from the original on October 24, 2011. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  10. ^ "Astronaut does live chat with children at north London school". The Guardian. September 25, 2008.
  11. ^ Montreal-born astronaut brings bagels into space Archived 2008-06-02 at the Wayback Machine Sun. Jun. 1 2008 7:29 PM ET ; CTV National News - 1 June 2008 - 11pm TV newscast
  12. ^ The Gazette (Montreal), Here's proof: Montreal bagels are out of this world Archived 2008-06-04 at the Wayback Machine, IRWIN BLOCK, Tuesday June 3, 2008, Section A, Page A2
  13. ^ DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN (7 September 2008). "Space Station to Mission Control: It's Your Move". New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Jews in Space". Community Magazine (Brooklyn). March 2017. p. 44.
  15. ^ "The 'Apollo Mezuza'". Jerusalem Post June 2, 2008.
  16. ^ Halily, Yaniv (2008-06-04). "The kosher space shuttle". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  17. ^ Matt Blum. "NASA Relents: Apogee of Fear, First Sci-Fi Film Shot in Space, Will Be Released". Wired. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  18. ^ "Zero Robotics History".
  19. ^ NASA (May 2011). "STS-134 Mission Summary" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  20. ^ Srinivas, K; Steven, Grant. "Aeronautical Engineering" (PDF). University of Sydney. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  21. ^ "Cal Poly Alumni Association Announces 2008 Honored Alumni". California Polytechnic State University. November 3, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  22. ^ "Astronauts and the BSA" (PDF). Boy Scouts of America. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-22. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
  23. ^ "Chess in Space: Houston, we have a checkmate". ChessBase. August 29, 2008. Retrieved October 10, 2013.