Charles Camarda is an engineer and NASA astronaut. He was born Charles Joseph Camarda on May 8, 1952 in Queens, New York. He graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School in 1970 and then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1974. Camarda began work as a research scientist at the NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where he was responsible for representing the practicality of a heat-pipe cooled leading edge for the Space Shuttle. Camarda also oversaw several test facilities such as the Thermal Structure Laboratory, where he worked on numerous Shuttle component developments. He furthered his education by earning a master’s degree in engineering science from George Washington University in 1980, and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1990.
In 1989, Camarda was selected to lead the Structures and Materials Technology Maturation Team for the National Aero-Space Plane program, which was in charge of growing materials and structures technologies necessary to enable the development of an air-breathing hypersonic vehicle capable of horizontal take-off to orbit. In 1994, Camarda was chosen to lead the Thermal Structures Branch with responsibility for a research engineering staff, two major focused programs, and several structural test facilities. In 1996, he was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA. He finished two years of training and evaluation that qualified him for flight assignment as a mission specialist. He first served on the Expedition-8 back-up crew and was assigned to the NASA Engineering and Safety Center. Camarda’s first flight into space was on the STS-114 mission aboard Shuttle Discovery. They launched on July 26, 2005 and eventually docked with the International Space Station. It was a Return to Flight mission and the crew tested and evaluated new procedures for flight safety and Shuttle inspection and repair techniques. After a 2-week, 5.8 million mile journey in space, the mission ended with a successful landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California on August 9, 2005. Camarda currently serves as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Office of Chief Engineer, Johnson Space Center.