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David Leckrone

"At Purdue, I learned how to learn - how to think for myself, how to ask questions and find answers. Although I was an honors major in physics, I especially profited from the liberal arts and foreign language programs I undertook. They broadened me as a thinking person. I have excellent public speaking and writing skills, which were developed and honed in my course work at Purdue."


It's a major success associated with NASA. Its science continues. Its images are on office walls, research posters, even as computer desktop wallpaper. A key scientist who played a lead role in many of the achievements of the Hubble Space Telescope the past two decades is David Leckrone, who received his undergraduate degree in physics from Purdue. Leckrone spent four decades with NASA, including 17 years as a senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope Program at Goddard Space Flight Center. In that role, he guided the scientific experiments for the Hubble observatory, ensuring the NASA project contributed to our scientific understanding over its lifetime. He also was a lead scientist for the five Space Shuttle missions that serviced Hubble from 1993-2009. His career parallels many of the amazing advances at NASA the last half century. Joining NASA in 1969 as an astrophysicist, he worked on the first Orbiting Astronomical Observatories at Goddard. In the early '70s, he led studies of potential astronomical payloads for the Space Shuttle. From 2003-05, he was chief scientist for the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), created after the Space Shuttle Columbia accident in February 2003. In addition, Leckrone is an internationally recognized authority on ultraviolet astronomy and spectroscopic analysis of stellar atmospheres. Leckrone, who retired from NASA in 2009, remains in high demand as a public speaker, writer and commentator on science, Hubble and space. "Purdue opened my eyes to a wide universe of possibilities in science."


  • BS '64, Physics, Purdue University
  • MA '67, Astronomy, University of California, Los Angeles
  • PhD '69, Astronomy, University of California, Los Angeles
  • MAS '87, Management, Johns Hopkins University
Career Highlights:
  • 1992 Named Senior Project Scientist for the Hubble program at Goddard Space Flight Center NASA Outstanding Scientific Achievement Medal
  • 1994 NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal
  • 1996 Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy, University of Lund, Sweden
  • 2008 Presidential Rank Award of Merit, U.S. Civil Service
  • 2009 NASA Distinguished Service Medal, highest honor agency bestows on civil servant

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