Charles Camarda

Charles Camarda

Founder, EPIC

Dr. Charles Camarda retired from NASA in May   2019, after 46 years of continuous service as a research engineer and   technical manager at Langley Research Center (LaRC), an Astronaut and Senior   Executive (Director of Engineering) at Johnson Space Center (JSC), and as the   Senior Advisor for Innovation and Engineering Development at LaRC.

He began his   career at LaRC in 1974 where he conducted thermal structures research for   hypersonic vehicles for 22 years. He developed innovative passive,   semi-passive, and active thermal protection systems including heat-pipe-cooled   leading edges, high temperature composite structures, and reusable cryogenic propellant   tank concepts. In 1989, Camarda was selected to lead the Structures and   Materials Technology Maturation Team for the National Aero-Space Plane (NASP)   program, which was responsible for maturing materials and structures   technologies necessary to enable the development of an airbreathing   hypersonic vehicle capable of horizontal take-off to orbit.  He was   selected to head the Thermal Structures Branch (TSB) in 1994 and was chosen   as NASA’s structures and materials lead for the single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO)   reusable launch vehicle program which led to the experimental X-33 vehicle   development program.

He was selected as an Astronaut Candidate in 1996 and flew as a Mission Specialist on   STS-114, NASA’s Return-to-Flight (RTF) mission immediately following the Columbia disaster. He was responsible for initiating several teams to successfully   diagnose the cause of the Columbia tragedy and, in addition, develop an   on-orbit, wing leading edge repair capability which was flown on his RTF   mission and all successive Shuttle missions until the retirement of the Space   Shuttle Program in  2011.

Following his successful mission on STS-114 Dr. Camarda   was asked by NASA Administrator, Dr. Michael Griffin, to be the Director of   Engineering at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston and tasked with   changing the dysfunctional culture which caused the accident and creating a   technically excellent Engineering Directorate.

Dr. Camarda is a research engineer, inventor, author,   educator, and internationally recognized invited speaker on subjects related   to engineering, engineering design, innovation, safety, organizational   behavior, and education. He has over 60 technical publications, holds 9   patents, and over 20 national and international awards including: an IR-100 Award for one of the top 100   technical innovations; the NASA Spaceflight Medal, an Exceptional Service   Medal; the American Astronautical Society 2006 Flight Achievement Award, and   he was inducted into the Air and Space Cradle of Aviation Museum’s Hall of   Fame in 2017.

Dr. Camarda is the Founder/CEO of the Epic Education Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation seeking to democratize education for learners at all levels and he is the President of an aerospace engineering and education consultancy, Leading Edge Enterprises LLC.