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Terry W. Virts, Jr.

NASA Astronaut; Colonel in the United States Air Force

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Terry’s personal stories and perspective gained from his space missions are captivating and insightful for every audience. His experience as an F-16 fighter pilot and test pilot gives him unique insight into operations and safety, and his lessons learned from NASA’s Columbia accident and Space Shuttle risk management are applicable to any industry.

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Terry Virts Starmus IV 2017

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  •  Terry W. Virts, Jr.


Terry Virts is a veteran of two spaceflights; a two-week mission onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2010 and a 200 day flight to the Space Station in 2014/2015. His seven plus months in space included three spacewalks, piloting the Space Shuttle, performing many science experiments, and working closely with multiple international partners, including Russian Space Agency cosmonauts during some of the most stressful US-Russian relations since the beginning of the cold war. While Terry was in space he took over 300,000 still images, more than on any other space mission to date, and was an integral part of filming and starring in the recent IMAX film “A Beautiful Planet,” narrated by Jennifer Lawrence.

Terry’s interests go well beyond space however. His new book, “View From Above,” is a National Geographic work that combines some of his best photographs from space with stories that share the experience of spaceflight, and perspectives on life on earth and our place in the cosmos. His passion as a photographer shines through, and this work has been praised by fellow authors and photographers, and combines the essence of all aspects of spaceflight into book format.

His desire is to share his stories from space with audiences around the world, combining the awesome experiences of launch and landing and spacewalks with the sublime views and surprising perspectives he gained on our planet’s environment, global wealth, and leadership of an international crew. Terry speaks French and Russian and has lived and worked extensively abroad, and he brings a unique perspective on working in today’s global environment.

Terry’s background as an F-16 pilot and Test Pilot gives him tremendous insight into operations and safety, and his lessons learned from aviation as well as his personal stories from NASA’s Columbia accident and Shuttle risk management are applicable to just about any industry. His education at the US Air Force Academy, as an applied mathematics major and French minor, as well as Embry Riddle and Harvard Business School gives him a very broad background.

He has not stood still since returning to earth- he has been involved in multiple projects since returning to earth, including writing, co-hosting National Geographic’s coverage of the recent eclipse, and using his drone and cinematographer skills to help film great white sharks off the coast of Mexico. Terry will be going to Antarctica and the South Pole in December- stand by for more spectacular imagery and blogs from his trip.

Speech Topics

Virts shares stories from two space missions that totaled more than 7 months in space. Using the inspirational story of how he became an astronaut and his thoughts on Earth’s environment and global wealth, Virts takes the audiences on a journey using real life examples with some of his best images and videos.

Based on lessons learned during Virts’ spaceflights, he shares stories as well as practical advice for leaders of all levels. Lessons include group dynamics, leading  international teams, and the importance of planning, briefing, executing, and debriefing.

A career as a pilot and astronaut has provided Virts with a wealth of wisdom in the importance of safety and risk management. He provides authentic insight on how the shuttle program managed risk, both successfully and unsuccessfully.   Sharing safety stories, not only from flying stories, but also from space “emergencies” practically illustrates how organizations on earth can implement an effective safety culture, to help prevent future mishaps from ever becoming reality.

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