NASA astronaut Lee Archambault is leaving the agency, ending a 15-year career that included more than 27 days in space, including a flight as commander of space shuttle Discovery.
Archambault will join Sierra Nevada Corp. as a systems engineer and test pilot. He will work on the company’s Dream Chaser Space System, being developed in conjunction with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Archambault was the pilot of space shuttle Atlantis on STS-117 in 2007, a mission vital to the construction of the International Space Station. Two years later he commanded the space shuttle Discovery on STS-119.
“Lee’s leadership and experience have been assets to our office,” said Bob Behnken, chief of the Astronaut Office. “In his role as chief of our Exploration Branch, he’s pushed for excellence in the design of our next crew vehicles as we progress during this critical development phase. His combination of technical knowledge, operational experience and critical thinking will be very hard to replace.”
Archambault earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Illinois-Urbana. He then served in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot. He flew combat missions in the Middle East during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Archambault joined NASA as an Air Force astronaut in 1998. He filled many technical roles during his NASA career including working as a support astronaut at Kennedy Space Center, a capsule communicator for STS-121 and finally serving within the Astronaut Office as the chief of the Exploration Branch.
Archambault retired from the U.S. Air Force as a colonel in 2012 after more than 27 years of service. He has logged more than 5,000 flight hours in more than 30 types of aircraft.