Astronaut Sandra Magnus

Dr. Sandra Magnus earned a bachelor of science degree in physics from Missouri S&T in 1986 and a master of science degree in electrical engineering from S&T in 1990. She also earned a Ph.D. in engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1996. That same year, she was selected for NASA’s Astronaut Corps.

Magnus flew her first mission to the International Space Station in 2002 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. She boarded that same shuttle for her final mission – and the last mission of the 30-year shuttle program – in July 2011.

She returned to the space station in 2008 for a four-month assignment as a science officer. While living on the ISS, she blogged about the experience, answered questions posed by grade school kids and discussed life in orbit.

Magnus left NASA in 2012 to become executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the aerospace field. She held that position through 2018, then became a principal for AstroPlanetview LLC, an Arlington, Virginia, firm. She later served as deputy director for engineering with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. In 2021, she joined Virgin Galactic’s Space Advisory Board to advise the company as it “moves forward to open space for the benefit of all,” according to a company announcement.

She is now executive director emeritus of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and was recently elected into the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

A standout soccer player during her undergraduate years at S&T, Magnus was awarded the Great Lakes Valley Conference Alumni of Distinction Award in 2009. She was inducted into the Miner Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003 and was one of 10 alumni selected for Missouri S&T’s Alumni of Influence 2016 class. She has remained active with her alma mater, returning to campus to speak with student groups and guest-lecture in classes. She delivered the university’s commencement address in May 2012.