Audio: NPR Interview with Kwatsi Alibaruho, First Black NASA Flight Director, 2005

NASA Shuttle Flight Director Kwatsi Alibaruho, 2009
Photo: NASA

MIT alum Kwatsi Alibaruho was a Shuttle Flight Director on duty for the STS-129 Atlantis mission, 2009.


NPR's Ed Gordon talks with Kwatsi Alibaruho, the first African American to lead NASA's Mission Control as a flight director for the International Space Station. 


About Kwatsi Alibaruho

Kwatsi Alibaruho '95 was part of the 2005 cohort of NASA flight directors, the second largest ever appointed and the most diverse at the time. He was a flight director on duty for the STS-129 Atlantis mission flown in 2009 by fellow MIT alum Robert L. Satcher, Jr. ’86, PhD ’93.

Leading a team of flight controllers, support personnel and engineering experts, a flight director has the overall responsibility to manage and carry out space shuttle flights and International Space Station expeditions. A flight director also leads and orchestrates planning and integration activities with flight controllers, payload customers, space station partners and others.

Alibaruho attributes his success as a NASA space shuttle flight director to a strong parental influence on academics, tenacity and hard work, and a life-long fascination with space and exploration. His father, the late economist Dr. George Alibaruho, was from Uganda; his mother, retired social science professor Dr. Gloria Alibaruho, is from Macon, GA; and several of his siblings also were born in Uganda.

I love the diversity of challenges in space exploration and in mission operations...There is nothing about my job that is routine.

Kwatsi Alibaruho

Timeline: 2000s
School: School of Engineering
Department: Aeronautics and Astronautics
Career: EngineeringTechnologyTransportation
Object: Audio
Collection: Africa, NASA, Rising Voices 1995-Present, Robert L. Satcher, Jr.