John “Danny” Olivas, Ph.D., P.E.

uniphi Space Agency

John “Danny” Olivas, Ph.D., P.E.

Astronaut, Mission Assurance Expert, Director of Space Initiatives, Author, Forensic Engineer

– OMS117 is an acronym for Olivas Mission Assurance and pays homage to NASA mission STS117, during which Dr. Olivas, with the help of a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, engineers and other professionals, devised a method to repair the space shuttle for the first time in orbit. It is perhaps the ultimate example of how adherence to Mission Assurance can save lives and multi-billion dollar investments in equipment and technology.
– Working as a materials engineering expert in product liability lawsuits gave Dr. Olivas insight into how little most companies appeared to be investing in Mission Assurance as a risk-mitigation practice. Rather than spending millions defending class actions and bet-the-company litigation, Dr. Olivas urges companies in high-risk industries to make the investment at the front end by engaging in Mission Assurance using his tested SOAR model.
– SOAR, designed by Dr. Olivas as a risk mitigation and rigorous mission assurance process, is a four-stage formula that tests systems, objectives, analyses and response.
– In addition to speaking to community, nonprofit and youth groups about the wonders of space travel and exploration, Dr. Olivas regularly addresses corporate audiences about risk mitigation through Mission Assurance and Lessons Learned in Space.™
– Checklistology™ is a word Dr. Olivas coined to refer to the science of ensuring safety checklists and protocols are complete, rational, simple enough to follow in high-stress situations, tested, trained and up-to-date.
– Endeavour’s Long Journey, authored by Dr. Olivas and illustrated by Gayle Garner Roski, celebrates space exploration and encourages grade school students to become scientists, engineers and explorers through the 19-year history of the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s missions and contribution to space travel.

For more information on booking Astronaut John “Danny” Olivas, Ph.D., P.E for speaking engagements or events please contact us here

The story of Endeavour’s Long Journey is meant to assure that our Nation’s Space Shuttle Program will continue to serve as an inspiration for future generations of Space Explorers. By releasing it now in Spanish, my hopes are that Spanish speaking immigrants, and their children, will be inspired, the way my great grandmother, inspired a love for space to my Father, who in turn inspired me.”

– Astronaut John “Danny” Olivas

Endeavour’s Long Journey

Astronaut John “Danny” Olivas

Available in English & Spanish

Space shuttle Endeavour brings its fascinating history to life through a journey to space with a young boy Jojo. Exploring space with the shuttle, Jojo learns about Endeavour’s extraordinary contribution to space science, and its famous service missions including the Hubble Space Telescope. The book also features stunning NASA photos, fun facts, famous firsts and quizzes to inspire kids in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Danny Olivas Book

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Book Awards/Honors:
– Story Time From Space Official Book Selection
– International Latino Book Awards
– Delaware State Reading Association Children’s Choices
– Creative Child’s Magazine Book of the Year Award
– Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Awards


What They’re Saying

“It is a wonderfully written and fantastically illustrated book… This book does a terrific job of explaining the shuttle program, gravity, and Hubble telescope. It was awe–inspiring to read the accomplishments from 1981–2011, thirty years of discoveries!” – National Science Teachers Association Recommends

“Very well-structured and fully illustrated, the book also presents fascinating mission highlights about all the space shuttles. The drawings and photographs greatly enhance the text…There is a brief but helpful glossary, as well as references to additional resources for learning about space. This book emphasizes the wide diversity of training and backgrounds of Americans who have succeeded in getting to space and would be excellent for informing and inspiring any young potential astronaut.” – Science Books & Films

“A combination of realistic watercolor illustrations and NASA photographs contribute to the overall learning experience. A book packed with information for aspiring astronauts and others interested in space exploration.” – Children’s Literature

“In addition to the science and space education values of “Endeavor’s Long Journey,” a sound subtext message about the value of strong cooperation among many different individuals is carefully conveyed. Color illustrations sensitively express these goals and add detail. “Endeavour’s Long Journey” is excellent educational material, recommended reading for children age 7 and up.” – Midwest Book Review



Dr. Olivas, a Mission Specialist for NASA for 12 years, worked on technical projects on land, under the ocean and in space. He was a crew member on two space shuttle missions, logging more than 650 hours, 440 earth orbits and 11 million miles in space and participating in five spacewalks totaling 34 hours. In space, he installed critical components into the International Space Station. He also accomplished the first ever spacewalk to repair the shuttle while in orbit, when damaged heat shielding posed a potentially disastrous threat to the shuttle and its crew.

My goal is to bring Mission Assurance “down to earth” to become a process terrestrial companies understand and implement. Most product defects and process failures are the result of error occurring within the larger system in which these products and processes operate. By applying the rigorous approach used in the manned space flight, the “Lessons Learned In Space” provide the proof that implementation of a Mission Assurance approach is an effective method to assess and mitigate risk. The approach is comprehensive, yet simple enough, to successfully be deployed in virtually any terrestrial environment; from the medical industry to oil and gas production. Training employees to Think Like an Astronaut™ impacts the bottom line and has proven performance in providing a substantial return on investment.

Currently, Dr. Olivas is the president and driving force behind OMS117,™ a team of veteran scientists, engineers and business people who use Lessons Learned In Space™ to prevent or mitigate catastrophic engineering failures of critical systems and processes that could undermine a mission’s success, injure people, or squander assets. Dr. Olivas holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and materials science from Rice University.

Speaking Engagement Overview:

What is it like to view the Universe from 250 miles above the Earth at a speed of more than 17,000 miles an hour? Dr. John “Danny” Olivas brings that experience to life for audiences using his unique blend of storytelling, passion about the topic and Lessons Learned In Space.™ From a description of how space smells, to fun with zero-gravity, to illustrations of views of Earth and beyond while clinging to the International Space Station during spacewalks, audiences share the adventures of spaceflight along with him.


How Does Space Smell?: The wonders of shuttle travel from lift-off to touch-down
Fewer than 150 people have made the trip from Earth to the International Space Station, but most people are curious about the voyage. Olivas invites the audience along for the ride, using anecdotes, film and photos from his two missions, spacewalks, and historic orbital repair of the space shuttle.

Space Capsules: True but little-known versions of mission-saving orbital inventions
While accounts of catastrophic space-shuttle failures are now part of American history, many of the official reports from successful missions omit the facts of last-minute fixes from orbit that prevented disasters. Olivas weaves these little-known details into anecdotes about how astronauts in space, specialists on Earth, and some ordinary people contributed to out-of-the-box inventions and how everyone’s contribution is essential to mission success.

Ticket to Ride: The Near Future of Commercial Manned Space Travel
Across the globe, private enterprise is stepping into the domain once occupied by government endeavors. How soon will an average traveler by able to purchase a ticket to space? Perhaps sooner than you think. Olivas discusses the current state of human spaceflight and explores what it takes to journey to the Moon, to Mars and outer destinations in the Solar System.

Mission Success: Mission Assurance and Lessons Learned In Space™
Many industries share commonality with the hazards associated with human spaceflight — particularly those where potential for product or system failures may lead to serious safety issues for customers/employees or result in significant financial loss. Olivas uses Lessons Learned in Space™ to encourage companies to challenge their own internal procedures to aim for failsafe processes. Through real-world examples developed in the crucible of the space exploration, Olivas inspires corporate audiences to Think Like an Astronaut™ to improve workplace and product safety.


Space to Earth: NASA-Style Mission Assurance to Transform Terrestrial Entities and Improve Bottom Lines. Most industries, particularly those where the potential for product or system failures will likely cause loss of life to customers or employees, engage in risk assessment and mitigation. Olivas encourages companies not only to challenge their own procedures in simulated high-exposure situations but also to aim for failsafe processes. Through examples of how NASA developed its mission assurance techniques, Olivas inspires corporate audiences to “think like an astronaut” to improve workplace and product safety.

Space to Earth: Using NASA-Style Mission Assurance to Mitigate Damages in High-Stakes Litigation. Don’t wait until your expert witness is under oath to attempt to justify a client’s failure to instigate rigorous procedures to create safer workplaces and launch sound products. Using techniques devised at NASA, strengthened by his own methods developed at high-exposure terrestrial companies, Olivas shows litigators how their clients can avoid litigation or reduce damages by “thinking like an astronaut” and embracing mission assurance.

Breakout Sessions
Lessons Learned in Space: Checklist Usage to Mitigate Poor Performance From Human Error. Using his tested SOAR mission assurance model, Olivas reveals practical strategies any business can devise when creating safety checklists their employees will understand and use.

Attendees will understand the purpose and uses of “briefing cards” and best practices for safety review and accountability.
Attendees will learn techniques to coordinate their procedures with other departments and divisions to increase institutional knowledge and garner support.
Attendees will appreciate the value of team building and the “buddy system” to ensure systems are failsafe and people are protected.
Lessons Learned in Space: Case Study of a Successful Integration of Mission Assurance in a Terrestrial Environment. Few industries outside of aerospace have even heard of much less applied mission assurance techniques to workplaces or products. This session is a case study of a down-to-earth company that transformed its culture to avoid product liability litigation and turn a failing product into a success.


Attendees will be able to analogize this success to their own product challenges.
Attendees will learn how to build efficient and knowledgeable cross-discipline teams.
Attendees will be inspired to incorporate mission assurance into their safety procedures.

The Nuts and Bolts of Checklistology™
New to the concept of mission assurance? This workshop explains best practices for creating checklists and how to get your company excited about the “clipboard culture.” Participants will create a preliminary checklist for their own use, with feedback and analysis by Olivas and other workshop participants.

Representative Prior Speaking Clients

LexisNexis, Smithsonian Institute, National Healthcare Anti-Fraud Association, Annenberg Foundation, Kubota Tractor Corp., Hispanic Scholarship Fund, IBM, ExxonMobil, Office Depot, Cameron Industries, the Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, the Raytheon Company, Northrup Grumman, United Space Alliance, ATK Thiokol, Dow Chemical, Hamilton Sunstrand, U.S. Border Patrol, Colgate-Palmolive