The triumphs of an inventor are often celebrated, while the tribulations they face are often behind closed doors. At a talk Tuesday, July 10, at the Virginia Air & Space Center in Hampton, the inventor of the Super Soaker will discuss how perseverance is the key to overcoming challenges when developing technologies.

Media are invited to interview Lonnie Johnson, the president and founder of technology development company Johnson Research and Development Co., Inc., at his presentation, “Perseverance: Overcoming Challenges when Developing New Technologies,” at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Sigma Series lectures.

Media interested in attending should contact Rob Wyman at or 757-912-2973 no later than 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The talk is free and open to the public.

In 1989, Johnson formed his own engineering firm and licensed his most famous invention, the Super Soaker water gun, to Larami Corporation. Two years later, the Super Soaker generated more than $200 million in retail sales and became the top-selling toy in the United States.

Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, a Master of Science in nuclear engineering and an honorary Ph.D. in science from Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama. Upon graduation, he worked as a research engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and then joined the U.S. Air Force, serving as acting chief of the Space Nuclear Power Safety Section at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1979, he left the Air Force to accept a position as senior systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter. Returning to the Air Force in 1982, he served as an advanced space systems requirements officer at Strategic Air Command headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1987, Johnson returned to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where, during his nine-year career, he received multiple achievement awards from NASA for his work in spacecraft system design.

Johnson holds more than 100 patents with dozens more pending and is the author of several publications on spacecraft power systems.

NASA Langley Research Center’s Colloquium and Sigma Series lectures provide monthly talks and demonstrations related to science and technology. The colloquiums at Langley are intended to stimulate the creative processes of center employees and enhance the quality of life at Langley by providing more opportunities for learning. The Sigma Series lectures provide to the general public this same opportunity for exposure to interesting technical topics. For more information about NASA Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit: