LC native and NASA engineer Chris Lupo receives 2024 Federal Engineer Award

Published 11:31 am Sunday, April 7, 2024

Special to the American Press

The National Society of Professional Engineers named Chris Lupo, deputy chief engineer of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, as the agency’s 2024 Federal Engineer of the Year. Sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers in Government, the award recognizes engineers employed in the federal government.

Lupo is a native of Lake Charles, a 1987 LaGrange High School graduate and a graduate of the LSU School of Engineering in Baton Rouge. He has engineered manned spacecraft systems at Johnson Space Center in Houston for over 30 years.

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Lupo was recognized during an award ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington on Feb. 23, alongside recipients from the National Park Service, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Air Force, and others.

“It was an incredibly nice surprise to be selected for this award,” said Lupo. “I feel like I’m representing the team in accepting this award, which I believe is an acknowledgment that our NASA team has been successful kickstarting the commercial space industry for human spaceflight.”

Working alongside NASA’s commercial partners, Boeing and SpaceX, Lupo contributed to the design and development of both companies’ human-rated spaceflight systems, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. Leading a team of over 100 engineers comprising nearly 20 engineering disciplines, Lupo spent the past decade working to ensure the spacecraft are safe, reliable, and a cost-effective means of transportation for astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

“I am very proud of the program’s engineering team and in particular Lupo’s leadership as deputy chief engineer. The team thoroughly reviews the analysis, testing, and previous flights data for every single mission that our commercial partners are executing to fly safely,” said Steve Stich, who manages the program.

Lupo joined the program spacecraft chief engineer, contributing to the effort to return human spaceflight capability to the United States following a retirement of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. Beginning with the launch of SpaceX Demo-2 in 2020 – the first crewed spaceflight from American soil since the space shuttle – the program has launched nine crewed missions to the orbiting laboratory, most recently NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission, which launched from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 4, 2024.

Lupo’s work with the Starliner spacecraft hits an important milestone this year with its first crewed flight test to the space station, after two previous uncrewed test flights.

“Returning the capability to launch astronauts from the U.S. again, that’s probably what I’m most proud of,” said Lupo. “I think all of us in the program are very proud of that. We’re doing a service for the nation, and I think it’s very important to get this industry established so that NASA can focus on human spaceflight beyond low Earth orbit.”