Michael McDonald Alumni


Michael graduated from NMU’s Physics Program in 1959. His employment career began in 1959 and spanned 32 years. From 1959-62, he was employed with the Transonic 
Division of the Naval Research and Development Lab. in Carderock,Maryland. In which, he conducted aerodynamic testing of scale model aircraft and missiles in the 
Transonic Wind Tunnel.

During the years, 1962-1965, he was employed at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, where he supervised the development, 
installation,and operation of satellite ground control stations in support of the NASA Relay Communications Satellite Project. The Relay satellite provided telephone, data, and television between terrestrial ground stations around the world. He also supervised the installation, testing, and operations of satellite ground control stations in support of the NASA Syncom Communications Project. Syncom was the world’s first synchronous communications satellite. It was developed to demonstrate telephone communicationsfrom synchronous orbit. Syncom’s synchronous or stationary orbit allowed it to be visible overhead 24 hours a day. 

From 1965-1974, he was employed with the Physics and Astronomy Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., as an assistant to the Astronomical and Solar Observatories Program Manager, where he assisted in overseeing the program’s budgets and observatory schedules including the Orbiting Astronomical Observatories (OAO) 2, and 3, and Orbiting Solar Observatories (OSO) 3, 4, 5, and 6. He also assisted in the procurement and supervision of the technical development of the Kuiper airborne Infra-red Astronomical Observatory (KOA). He was promoted to Program Manager in 1975 and was responsible for several programs including the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 3, the Orbiting Solar Observatories 7, and 8, the Solar Maximum Mission (SMM), and the initial planning and budgeting for the International Solar Polar Mission (ISPM). The ISPM was a joint NASA and European Space Agency (ESA). 

After his retirement in 1981, he became an independent technical consultant for the following: Fairchild Industries, Space and Electronics Division located in Germantown,Maryland, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) Program Office in Suitland, Maryland. During the period 1983 through 1991, he was employed by the Perkin-Elmer Corporation, Danbury, Connecticut. While at Perkin-Elmer he assisted the Perkin-Elmer’s Hubble Operations Control Manager in developing procedures for the initial activation and calibration of the Hubble Telescope in orbit from the NASA Operations Control Center located in Greenbelt,Maryland.