Mike Leinbach was the final Shuttle Launch Director at NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida. He was responsible for overall Shuttle launch countdown policy, planning, and execution activities in the last eleven years of the program.
Mike joined NASA in 1984 and quickly ascended through the engineering and leadership ranks, becoming Launch Director in August 2000. He led the Launch Team for all Shuttle missions from then to the end of the program in 2011, serving as the person to give the final “Go!” for launch.
Mike led KSC’s forces in the initial Columbia debris recovery effort in Texas and Louisiana in February 2003. Shortly thereafter, he led the Columbia Reconstruction Team to determine the cause of the accident from the debris collected and reassembled at KSC. He was the driving force behind the Columbia Preservation Team and the plan to lend debris to academia to develop better and safer spacecraft in the future.
His many service awards include the Presidential Rank Award, NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal, and NASA’s Medal for Outstanding Leadership. Mike retired from NASA in 2011.
He has written a book – Bringing Columbia Home – and he will have copies with him for signature and sale after the meeting for those interested in getting a copy.