Mike O’Neal worked for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center for over 31 years. He was awarded the Agency’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and two Exceptional Service Medals for his contributions to the Agency. Prior to his retirement in 2008, he completed a special assignment with the Florida Space Research Institute, where he investigated mechanisms to provide spiritual support for astronauts on long-duration missions. Earth-based analogs were evaluated where individuals are placed in isolated, remote environments, such as sailors on submarines. In conjunction with this assignment, he also investigated the historical role spirituality played in human spaceflight: specifically, how have astronauts spiritually prepared themselves to go into space; once in space, how was their faith manifested; and what impact has viewing the Earth and the heavens from space had on their spirituality.
Mike’s previous assignments with NASA included serving as the Assistant to the Chief Technologist for Exploration, Leader of the Exploration Think Tank, Deputy Director of the Space Station Hardware Integration Office, and the Deputy Director for the Space Shuttle Engineering Directorate. Mike has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Central Florida, a Master of Science in Engineering Management from the Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry from the Harding University Graduate School of Religion.
His Guided Research was on “What Angels Tell Us about God” and has written a book on the subject titled An Angels View: Encountering God through the Stories of the Heavenly Hosts, published by 21st Century Christian in May of 2010. Along with writing and presenting seminars, he preaches part-time at the East Orange Church of Christ in Orlando, FL. He and his wife Carol have two children and live in Titusville, FL.
Title of UFCSH talk: “Spirituality and Spaceflight”
Spirituality’s role in the U.S. Space Program has been a neglected topic. This presentation explores the history of faith and human spaceflight through several facets. How have astronauts spiritually prepared themselves to go into space? Once in space, how was their faith manifested? And what impact has viewing the Earth and the heavens from space had on their spirituality? NASA’s astronaut corps is not only made up of men and women of great intellect and courage, but many are individuals of great faith. This compilation of stories is a source of encouragement for all.