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Michael Kezirian

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Adjunct Professor of Astronautics Practice


  • 1996, Doctoral Degree, Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 1989, Bachelor's Degree, Chemical Engineering, Brown University


Dr. Kezirian was an Associate Technical Fellow at the Boeing Company most recently supporting the development of the Boeing Starliner CST-100, through the NASA Commercial Crew Program. For the Space Shuttle Program, he was the Boeing Safety Representative to the Mission Management Team and responsible for all safety products related to flight operations including flight readiness reviews and the resolution of on-orbit anomalies. He was a member of flight team in the Mission Evaluation Room for launch and landing events.

In the Return to Flight activities following the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, a newly identified failure mode was included in the top ten hazards, composite stress rupture of the Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels (COPV) for storage of high pressure gasses and liquids. Dr. Kezirian became the analysis lead of the integrated cross agency NASA, industry, and university to develop flight rationale to permit continued Shuttle flight operations. He leads the AIAA standards committee on pressure vessels where he led the development of new standards for pressure vessels. He is a member of the AIAA Standards Steering Committee and teaches IAASS industry-focused courses on COPV design, certification and operations.

He has supported the International Space Station and several commercial and government communication satellite programs in system design and flight operations. Prior to Boeing, he was a propulsion engineer at TRW Space and Technology Group (now Northrop Grumman) on satellite programs.

Dr. Kezirian is President of the International Space Station Foundation and is the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Space Safety Engineering, now published by Elsevier.

He has a Bachelors from Brown University and a Masters and Doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in chemical engineering. His doctoral thesis was an experimental investigation of the hydrodynamic stability of viscoelastic free surface flows.

Dr. Kezirian is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA and Fellow Member of IAASS. In 2009, he was awarded the NASA Astronaut Personal Achievement Award (Silver Snoopy).

Course Currently Teaching: "ASTE 529 Safety of Space Systems and Space Missions"

This course introduce the NASA developed methodology and analysis techniques to certify spacecraft for human spaceflight to meet the needs created by the growing commercial spaceflight industry to suborbital and low earth orbit.

Offered in alternate years, next offering Winter 2025

Course Currently Teaching: "ASTE 599 Safety of Space Operations"

This course is taught with Jerry Haber and primarily focuses on two topics. The first part addresses managing spacecraft in the orbital debris environment, for launch and on-orbit operations. This includes performing conjunction assessments and planning debris avoidance maneuvers. The second part addresses the risk to the uninvolved public of launch and reentry. This risk is the cornerstone of commercial licensing by the US Federal Aviation Administration. Non-US licensing follows similar processes.

Offered in alternate years, next offering Winter 2024

Courses Previously Taught

ChE 472, Polymer Science
ChE 772, Polymer Science (created course)
ASTE 480, Spacecraft Dynamics

Research Summary

System Safety, Propulsion, Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel Design and Analysis, Spacecraft Dynamics and Fuel Slosh

  • Astronautical Engineering

  • Biegler Hall of Engineering
  • 920 Downey Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089

Contact Information
  • (800) 401-8271
  • kezirian@usc.edu


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