Space history curator, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Valerie Neal has been a space history curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum since 1989 and is current chair of the Space History Department. She is also co-chair of the museum's team for the national Apollo 50th Anniversary celebration. Her research, exhibition, and collection responsibilities focus on human spaceflight in the space shuttle era and beyond. She has written a book on spaceflight, a biography of the space shuttle Discovery, and a book about space science on the shuttle in the 1980s. She has also edited two books on space exploration, published a variety of essays and short pieces, curated three major exhibitions: on the U.S.-Soviet space race, spaceflight in and beyond the space shuttle era, and the challenges of future exploration. She curated eight Smithsonian Channel documentaries. Before joining the Smithsonian, Neal spent a decade in Huntsville, Alabama, as a writer, editor and manager for more than 25 NASA publications on shuttle and Spacelab missions, the space sciences, NASA’s Great Observatories and astrophysics, and NASA history. She also participated in underwater astronaut crew training activities and worked in mission support for four shuttle missions. She has taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Vanderbilt University, and Georgetown University.