USAF Col. Rick Searfoss

Colonel Rick Searfoss shares with only a handful of people in history the sublime joys of actually flying in space. In his career he has led many different teams, including commanding the most complex science research space mission ever, the STS-90 Neurolab flight on Columbia. He also piloted two other space flights, including a joint Russian-American mission to the Mir space station. Prior to becoming an astronaut Colonel Searfoss was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Air Force, with over 5500 hours flying time in 68 different types of aircraft. A distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School, his recent test flying work includes flying the EZ Rocket technology demonstrator aircraft as test pilot and Director of Flight Operations for XCOR Aerospace ( Rick is currently the only dual qualified liquid-propellant rocket pilot in the world and also now serves as Chief Pilot for the newly formed Rocket Racing League ( As the Chief Judge for the $10 million Ansari X Prize, Rick built and led the judging team that developed the verification methodologies and protocols to validate the successful accomplishment of all the X Prize requirements. He has also held executive level positions in the aerospace industry and consults regularly for numerous entrepreneurial space companies such as the Zero Gravity Corporation. Rick stays very active on the corporate speaking circuit as a high-content expert speaker on the topics of leadership, teamwork, innovation, and peak performance ( His extensive leadership experience and work with some of the most innovative companies of the new millennium enable him to fulfill his mission of sharing the teamwork, leadership, and innovation lessons of human space flight while bringing the wonder of Space to Earth for all to enjoy. Colonel Searfoss completed a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the USAF Academy in 1978, a master of science degree in aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology on a National Science Foundation Fellowship in 1979, and USAF Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College. His numerous awards include the Harmon, Fairchild, Price and Tober Awards as the number one overall, academic, engineering, and aeronautical engineering graduate in his USAF Academy class, Air Force Aero Propulsion Laboratory Excellence in Turbine Engine Design award, USAF Squadron Officer's School Commandant's Trophy as top graduate, Tactical Air Command F-111 Instructor Pilot of the Year, Outstanding Young Men of America, Air Force Commendation Medal and Meritorious Service Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross. An avid model rocketeer and science fiction reader as a youngster, Rick grew up enthralled with flying and space in the amazing days of Apollo and America’s push for the moon. He now passionately supports private space ventures as essential to truly open the final frontier. Rick resides in California with his wife and daughters, who have always graciously and patiently supported his flying and space habits!

Broadcast 1798 (Special Edition)

Guest: Rick Searfoss (Col., USAF, RET.). Topics: Rocket Flight, XCOR, Lynx, flight safety, leadership. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.

Broadcast 535 (Special Edition)

Col. Rick Searfoss returned to The Space Show for this Tuesday evening program. We began the interview talking about the commercial space industry and primarily his experience and relationship with XCOR Aerospace. We talked about flying rockets, the Rocket Racing League, suborbital space tourism, safety issues, test flights, and more. As a result of a listener question, Col. Searfoss addressed competition in the suborbital tourism industry and safety given the pressure of competition. Col.

Broadcast 173 (Special Edition)

USAF Col. (Ret) Rick Searfoss, former pilot NASA astronaut with three space missions, was the guest on The Space Show for Dec. 2, 2003. Col. Searfoss spoke at length about his flying experience in the Air Force and at NASA, the path to take for those that want to be future astronauts, his missions that he flew, astronaut training, politics within NASA, and what would have been involved in they had a mission to return to the Moon.

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