Dr. Michael J. Massimino (born August 19, 1962, Oceanside, NY) is a former NASA astronaut, who is a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, both of which serviced the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), including the historic final repair mission. Akin to Howard Wolowitz, he graduated from Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and worked as an aerospace engineer, focusing on space robotics systems and human-machine interfaces for space systems.
In "The Friendship Contraction", Mike Massimino contacts Howard at his home via Skype for a NASA video conference about his upcoming duties as a payload specialist on Expedition 31 to the International Space Station. After Mike reveals his astronaut nickname to be "Mass", which Howard misinterprets as a reference to Newton's second law of motion (as reduced to the familiar Force = Mass x Acceleration), but actually is just his last name, Howard has Raj call him to play his phone ringtone, Sir Elton John's "Rocket Man", and states it is his favorite song in an attempt to convince Massimino to designate him Howard "Rocket Man" Wolowitz. However, when Howard's mother screams to him that his Froot Loop cereal will become soggy, Mike decides Howard's astro-nickname will be "Froot Loops", much to Howard's dismay.
He reappears in the "The Countdown Reflection" aboard a Soyuz capsule as a crew member of the rescheduled Expedition 31, alongside Howard and Russian cosmonaut Dimitri. Mike mistakes Howard's expression of fear during the review of the launch steps to be a display of humor and asks him if he can hit his fan switch, while referring to him as "Froot Loops". After Dimitri subsequently inquires as to the origin of this nickname, Massimino adds that Howard actually just married a girl. During the final countdown, he casually discusses the responsibilities of owning a dog with his Russian comrade, but attempts to introduce a space-related topic of conversation in order to ease Howard's tension. However, when Mission Control informs the crew of a fuel leak, Mike insists that Howard not lose his Froot Loops over the matter. With ignition, Massimino proclaims his love for that part of the launch procedure.
In "The Decoupling Fluctuation", Massimino and the rest of the crew are on board the space station, supposedly "giving each other a hard time" and "hurting feelings". As Howard talks to his friends visible on a computer monitor, Mike interrupts and, following Dimitri's inquiry into the matter, twice reasserts that "Loops" needs to scrub the space toilet clean, since he is the new guy and is familiar with the rules regarding that status. A series of pranks by Mike and Dimitri then proceed at the expense of Howard. During a space walk, one of the two astronauts glues a big-eyed rubber alien mask to the outside of the window in sight from his sleeping quarters, causing him to scream for several minutes upon waking, and later posts a video on YouTube entitled "Astronaut Screams for Nine Minutes". After Howard's mother contacts NASA vis-à-vis the pranks, which only worsens the situation, Howard confronts Mike and Dimitri himself, only for him once again to be at the receiving end of their mischief: Howard has the salient features of a mouse drawn on his countenance and the inscription F. LOOPS on his forehead while he is asleep.
Massimino and Dimitri once again witness Howard screaming during the descending of the capsule from space to earth, in "The Re-Entry Minimization".
In "The Table Polarization", Massimino joined Howard's family and friends via Skype to dissuade Howard from going up to the space station again as none of them believe he is going to fare well in the mission. When Howard insists he can handle the mission, Massimino reminds him that he'll have to go through survival training again. Howard later deliberately fails his blood pressure test to back out of the mission.
- S05E15: The Friendship Contraction
- S05E24: The Countdown Reflection
- S06E02: The Decoupling Fluctuation
- S06E04: The Re-Entry Minimization
- S07E16: The Table Polarization
- S08E03: The First Pitch Insufficiency