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Michael Conley

Michael Conley

Senior Engineer
Space Launch & Satellite

Education & Qualifications

B.S Electrical Engineering, Virginia
Military Institute

Areas Of Expertise

Electrical Engineering
Root Cause Analysis
Planning, Systems,
Engineering & Integration


Michael Conley is a retired NASA engineer with over 40 years of experience in complex space systems from programs such as the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, and Lunar & Mars endeavors. Michael’s career covers the entire engineering and operations spectrum as a senior leader of multi-disciplined engineering, safety, and operations teams. During his tenure, Michael was called to lead detailed assessments and provide recommendations for complex mission-critical issues. Michael is a lifetime member of the NASA Alumni League, allowing him to stay informed of existing programs and provide consultation to both NASA and its contractors.

Selected Assignments

Description Type Value
Solar Array Damage – Payload No. 1 RCA + Subro $18M
Solar Array Damage – Payload No. 2 RCA + Subro $22M
Space Shuttle Flight Inspection System Program Development $250M
Lunar Scout Program Lunar Mapping $250M
Lunar Mars Mission Studies Adv. Development Architecture $70M
Commercial Lunar Lander Program Development $100M
NASA Flagship Program Formulation Technologies Development $5B


Space Shuttle – Accident Investigation and Flight Returns
Following the Challenger accident, Michael led efforts to rewrite the return-to-flight protocols for Level II Operations and Maintenance Requirements Documents. He represented the Level II Program Office to the Kennedy Space Center operations and engineering and was appointed the Level II representative on the Material Review Board (MRB).

Following the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, Michael served as NASA’s Engineering representative on the Columbia Task Force to support the Columbia Accident Investigation Board and then the Stafford/Covey Return to Flight activity.

International Space Station
Michael served as the program chief engineer on the International Space Station (ISS) and was recognized as NASA’s warranted technical authority for the ISS. He initiated and conducted detailed reviews and risk assessments of all ISS engineering and operational changes and provided technical recommendations to the program control boards. Michael further provided engineering input for realtime troubleshooting and solutions to on-orbit problems and was the ISS missions engineering signatory for the certification of flight readiness.

Michael supervised and managed the integration of the ISS’s US and international launch package elements and the Certification of Flight Readiness development process. His responsibilities included integrating these joint launch elements onto the Space Shuttle for the successful installation and operation of the ISS. Michael led efforts for the development and operating concept for ISS Visiting Vehicles from two foreign exploration agencies. Additionally, he co-chaired various review and integration
panels that supported the ISS program office.

NASA Space Exploration Initiative
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush directed a new Space Exploration Initiative to return humans to the Moon and make an eventual push to Mars. Michael was selected as Lunar Scout Program Manager, who led the development of two Lunar satellites with the capability of producing global high-resolution images, elements, and chemical maps of the Lunar surface. Michael served as source board chair for procuring the spacecraft bus and the instrument suite for the two missions.

Space Exploration Initiative
Michael was appointed Deputy Manager for the Advanced Development Office and charged with leading advanced mission studies for the Lunar and Mars missions. Michael served as source board chair for the Johnson Space Center Space Launch Initiative cycle 2 Opportunity Announcement.

NASA Headquarters
Michael was appointed as the Exploration Systems Division (ESD) Program Executive for the Constellation (Cx) System Engineering & Integration (SE&I) on a two-year assignment at NASA Headquarters, Washington DC. Michel co-wrote numerous white papers and presented the Cx Program results to the presidential Augustine Commission. He prepared and delivered briefings to agency leadership and congressional staffers on the integrated vehicle safety and risk analysis. Further, Michael led a Flagship Program team to formulate five technology demonstration missions, valued from $500M to $1B, to support solar system exploration. These missions included implementing all technical, budget, and schedule planning aspects. Michael briefed and received endorsements from agency leadership and directors of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Following a policy change to fund Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion, Michael was tasked with formulating and integrating activities for the two programs.

Aero-science and Flight Mechanics
Michael was appointed the Deputy Chief of the Aero-science and Flight Mechanics Division, leading over 100 NASA and contractor engineers who collectively developed and implemented flight systems, including a computational fluid dynamics analysis of existing and new spacecraft. Michael’s engineering team provided Space Shuttle Rendezvous and Proximity Operations software and performed flight dynamics analyses for the Space Shuttle, ISS, and new launch in-space vehicles.

Michael served as Deputy Chief of the Avionic Systems Division, leading over 120 NASA and contractor engineers in the oversite, development, test, and evaluation of complex NASA flight program avionic systems. Michael conceived the concept and initiated the development of the Orbiter Boom Inspection System, which provided the post-launch on-orbit Thermal Protection System (TPS) inspection.

Space Shuttle
Michael was the Columbia Vehicle Manager leading the NASA and Contractor project team to ensure the Space Shuttle Columbia was adequately planned and executed between flight turnarounds. Michael prioritized and designed vehicle modifications for in-flow and major modification turnaround periods. Further, he led project certification of flight readiness activities leading to launch.

Michael supported the Level 2 Shuttle Ground Operation Office on the Vandenberg Launch Site (VLS) Activation. Michael planned the successful VLS Facility Verification using Space Shuttle Enterprise, inert Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs), and a Flight External Tank.
Michael was the lead payload test engineer for two space shuttle missions, writing integration tests (Interface Verification and Mission Sequencing) for space Shuttle-launched payloads.

On a separate project, he was a systems engineer on the Shuttle Launch Processing System (LPS) and a launch team member for the Space Transportation System’s LPS engineering and technical operations during the shuttle ground operations and launch. Further, Michael was appointed “First Responder” to troubleshoot LPS hardware and software problems.



Satellite – Solar Array Damage
A geostationary communication satellite providing services for two separate payloads experienced solar array damage due to Hall Thruster plume impingement on the array. The satellite contractor implemented an operational workaround protocol to prevent further damage. Analysis and data showed that the operational life of the solar arrays would not provide sufficient power to operate the two
payloads at full capability during their 15-year life, resulting in a partial loss. The satellite/payload teams developed a plan to minimize the loss by incremental shutdown of communication channels throughout mission life. Michael performed an independent analysis by examining the partial loss of power & capacity, confirming the cause of loss, generating technical RFIs for the insured, and determining any subrogation potential.


2002 – Present OCI-USA
Houston, TX
Senior Engineer, Space Launch & Satellite
2019 – 2020 Orbit Beyond Inc.
Houston, TX
Chief Engineer
2012 – 2014 Davidson Technologies
Houston, TX
1987 – 2011 Johnson Space Center
Houston, TX
Deputy Manager, Avionic Systems Division (EV)
1983 – 1987 United States Air Force
Vandenberg Space Force, CA
1982 – 1983 McDonald Douglas
Kennedy Space Center, FL
Lead Payload Test Engineer
1980 – 1982 Computer Science Corporation
Kennedy Space Center, FL
Systems Engineer
1976 – 1980 United States Air Force
Intelligence Analyst