Dimitrios Mitsakos, 34
Dimitrios Mitsakos felt NASA was near as he grew up in El Paso. He took field trips to White Sands Missile Range and saw the agency’s planes at the airport. So when a physics teacher inspired him, he enrolled at Florida Institute of Technology to launch a career in space.
A hiring freeze at the Cape diverted him to a job as a nuclear engineer, working on aircraft carriers and subs in Virginia. “Everything was dirty — everything crash and bang and let’s get the job done,” says Mitsakos, 34. It was a far cry from his subsequent NASA job, working on the meticulously maintained space shuttle.
Now he works with NASA’s partners on the commercial crew program. “The challenges are different,”
he says. “You always think back: Is this what the Apollo guys were going through?” His honors include a launch director’s award and the astronaut-curated Silver Snoopy.
Mostly, he loves spending time with wife Christina and their daughters, ages 5 and 18 months, whether it’s at the soccer field (he plays, and he coaches his daughter’s team) or in their pool in Port St. John.