Colonel Mike Mullane

  • Travels From: Albuquerque, NM
  • Fees: $10,000-$20,000

Keynote Topics

The actual program title will be selected during a pre-event teleconference with the Client to ensure it fits the objectives of the meeting.  In the same teleconference Astronaut Mullane will coordinate with the Client, using the following outline, to tailor his comments to the meeting objectives.

Please note that Mullane’s programs are lavishly supported with rarely seen NASA videos and photos making it very easy for any audience (including non-technical audiences) to follow and understand the message.  You do not need to be a rocket scientist to be thoroughly educated, inspired and motivated by Mullane’s presentations!

Normalization of Deviance
Mullane will use the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster as an example of how a World-Class team can be victimized by incremental deviances from teamwork, leadership and safety best practices.

Challenger was a result of a catastrophic failure of the O-rings, Criticality 1 components used to form pressure seals between the four propellant-filled segments that comprise the twin solid fueled rocket boosters.  Even though there were multiple instances of leaking O-rings in the 24 missions preceding Challenger, launches were never suspended to give engineers adequate time to address the problem.  In hindsight, the serial justifications over a 4 year period to continue launch operations, reveal an incremental creep from best practices, i.e., a normalizing process.  Challenger proved to be a ‘predictable surprise’. 

The following lessons will be extracted from the story of Challenger:

Normalization of deviance is rooted in decision-making while under job-related or personal pressures. Everybody is vulnerable. Procedural compliance will always be the best defense.  Make it a religion.
Maintain situational awareness.  Have a questioning attitude.
Risk has no memory.  Risk is not diminished by the frequency at which one is successful in taking the risk.
Beware of this thought process, ‘These are exceptional circumstances.  I must take the short-cut.  Next time I will do it right.’ One successful safety short cut provides this false feedback:  The absence of a negative consequence suggests a risk previously believed to be absolute is, in fact, manageable.  One short-cut opens to door to more.
Set challenging but attainable goals.  NASA’s shuttle launch goal of 24 missions per year proved to be unattainable and pressures that resulted from that goal were significant factors in the tragedy.

In his program, The Lighter Side of Spaceflight, Astronaut Mike Mullane will take the audience on a uniquely revealing, captivating and hilarious space journey.  Using spectacular video and slides he will answer everybody’s space questions: What does a shuttle launch feel like?…How does an astronaut deal with the incredible fear of launch?…How do you sleep, bathe, eat, drink, etc.?….What do you see from space?…And, of course, he will answer the top two questions that astronauts are ever asked:

Number 1: How does the space toilet work?

Number 2: Has he seen any UFOs or aliens?

The answers to these questions and many, many more are lavishly wrapped with inside, hilarious stories and supported with amazing video.

The audience will not only be thoroughly entertained by The Lighter Side of Spaceflight but will they will also find Mullane’s message on goal setting and achievement to be powerfully inspirational.  Most audiences are shocked to learn how ordinary Mullane was.  People assume, because he is an astronaut now, that in his youth, he was a super-child, destined for great success.  That is not the case. 

Mullane uses slides and video to prove he wasn’t a child genius.  He wasn’t a high school sports star.  He didn’t date the homecoming queen.  He wasn’t popular.  (He shows a slide of the dedication pages from his high school year book…which are blank except for a single inscription: “You missed Korea but here’s hoping you make Vietnam”.)

Yet, Mullane realized a lifetime dream of becoming an astronaut through the practice of “mapping the edge of his performance envelope”.   Every individual and team has an “edge of a performance envelope” and individuals and teams find those “edges” (as team member, leaders, parents, spouses, etc.) through self-challenge and tenacity. 

(Mullane’s father was rendered a paraplegic at age 33 by polio and Mullane’s story of his parents response to that tragedy while raising six children is the basis of his message on tenacity and goal-achievement in the face of adversity).  Mullane develops this philosophy of self-leadership:  “Success isn’t a final destination.  It’s a continuous life journey of mapping our performance envelopes through challenge and tenacity.”

The Lighter Side of Spaceflight is remarkably inspirational and humorous.  The audience will come away from the program with a renewed sense of their potential and the potential of their teams.

Colonel Mike Mullane has established himself as an acclaimed professional speaker on the topics of teamwork, leadership and safety.  He has educated, entertained, inspired and thrilled tens of thousands of people from every walk of business and government with his incredibly unique programs. Colonel Mullane was born September 10, 1945 in Wichita Falls, Texas but […]

Colonel Mike Mullane has established himself as an acclaimed professional speaker on the topics of teamwork, leadership and safety. 

He has educated, entertained, inspired and thrilled tens of thousands of people from every walk of business and government with his incredibly unique programs.

Colonel Mullane was born September 10, 1945 in Wichita Falls, Texas but spent much of his youth in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he currently resides. He was a child of the space race and in the late 1950’s embarked on his own rocket experiments in the deserts near his home.

Colonel Mike Mullane | Leadership

Upon his graduation from West Point in 1967, he was commissioned in the United States Air Force. As a Weapon Systems Operator aboard RF-4C Phantom aircraft, he completed 134 combat missions in Vietnam.

Colonel Mike Mullane holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology and is also a graduate of the Air Force Flight Test Engineer School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.


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