Michael Comberiate is one of those eclectic individuals, who seems to be living multiple lives in parallel.
For 44 years he was an engineer for the US Government (primarily for NASA) and has worked as a System Manager for the design, fabrication, testing, and launch of a dozen or so spacecraft. There’s a piece of one of his spacecraft with his name on it, now lying on the surface of the Moon. He’s also a world traveler having gone to 165 or so different countries, and to other extraordinary places on every continent. He’s responsible for a dozen historical firsts in the High Polar Regions, where he applied NASA technologies developed for Space to resolve long-standing problems in remote locations on Earth. He’s been featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and in Guinness Records. There’s a Glacier in Antarctica named after him for some of those, but unfortunately, it’s melting.
“NASA MIKE”, as he has been known for decades, initiated over 125 COOL SPACE projects involving NASA personnel and/or Teachers, Students, and various non-NASA persons, working in the field on really COOL projects. These projects had some link to NASA mainline objectives, but they themselves were not mainline. They did however add to NASA’s mission and they got regular people involved with hands-on participation in the field to where they could actually contribute something of value. This was a way to inspire the next generation of Scientists, Engineers, and Technical Leaders and it was called “COOL SPACE”.
For about 15 years he developed a very high-end Engineering Intern program at NASA, which has involved at least 550 interns from Middle school through College Graduates. Since 2004 he has run a competitive Robotics Boot Camp, which included many international interns working at NASA-Goddard for summers and vacations during the year. Many of his students have come from Mexico and South America. One Argentinean Graduate from a college in Mexico was sent to Greenland with the Autonomous Rover vehicle that this boot camp produced. He also was given a full paid scholarship to Boise State Univ in Idaho to get his advanced degree in Computer Science, based on tailoring this Robotic Vehicle to their Science Missions.
NASA Mike is an international Lecturer and has spoken on all 7 continents including the North and South Poles. He has been on a mission for over 50 years to visit every sovereign State in the world. Being a former Gymnast, his special trademark has been to do a handstand in all the unusual places he visits. This includes global points of interest such as atop the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt, the southern tips of all the continents, the Geographic North Pole, the Panama and Suez Canals and such. This has been an interesting and unique way to meet people all over the world and given that it has been happening since 1965, it is probably a unique historical, “claim to fame”.
This website is the latest of several that have been dedicated to Cool Space projects and to NASAMIKE’s crazy life, including a facebook page where you can friend him. If you would like to send a post card or letter to him just use this simple address, which has worked reliably for over 30 years (Include your email address to get a reply.):