Astronaut Biography

Dr. Brian O'Leary

December 10, 2009

On NASA’s site today, Brian O’Leary is the only former astronaut without a biography.  Today, when the public asks why Brian’s biography is not on its site, NASA replies with the following:

“Brian O'Leary was selected by NASA in August 1967 as part of Group 6.  He reported to the Johnson Space Center and was here only briefly, from September 1967 to April 1968, when he left for personal reasons.  Brian O'Leary was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and had a Ph.D. in Astronomy from University of California-Berkeley.  He left NASA before an official biography was put together for his concurrence and signature on a NASA Privacy Act Form giving NASA permission to make his biography available to the public.  Therefore, a biography was never posted online for him.”

That is a technically accurate response, but may not tell the whole story.  Brian would like for NASA to publish his biography and, during the summer of 2009, with Brian’s help, I wrote his biography for NASA’s site.  I submitted it to NASA on Brian’s behalf on September 14, 2009, and twice again a month later.  NASA has yet to respond to my biography submission, but it is produced below.


Biographical Data:

Brian T. O’Leary (PH.D)


PERSONAL DATA:  Born January 27, 1940, in Boston, Massachusetts. He is married to Meredith Miller, has two children, and enjoys photography, hiking, cartooning, jazz piano and yoga.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Belmont High School, Belmont, Massachusetts, in 1957; received bachelor of arts degree in physics from Williams College in 1961, a masters of arts in astronomy from Georgetown University in 1964, and a doctor of philosophy in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley in 1967.

ORGANIZATIONS: Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1975-); secretary of the Planetology Section, American Geophysical Union (1970-1976); member of the nominating committee of the American Astronomical Society Division of Planetary Sciences (1976-1979); team leader of the Asteroidal Resources Group, NASA Ames Summer Study on Space Settlements (1977); board member of the American Space Foundation (1983-1985); chairman of the board of directors of the Institute for Security and Cooperation in Space (1987-1988); founding board member of the International Association for New Science (1990-2000); founding president of the New Energy Movement (2003); and fellow, World Innovation Foundation, (2007-).

SPECIAL HONORS: Recipient of NASA Distinguished Group Achievement Award, Mariner 10 Mission, 1975; Eagle Scout.

PUBLICATIONS: Authored or co-authored more than one hundred peer-reviewed scientific papers, including: Rea and O'Leary, "Visible polarization data of Mars," Nature, 206, 1138, 1965; "The influence of lunar mascons on its dynamical figure," Nature, 220, 1309, 1968; O'Leary and Rea, "On the composition of the Venus clouds," Journal of Geophysical Research, 1968; O'Leary, Campbell and Sagan, "Lunar and planetary mass concentrations," Science, 165, 651, 1969. Has also been an editor for several books, including, Space Manufacturing from Nonterrestrial Materials, edited by O'Neill and O'Leary, vol. 57 of Progress in Astronautics and Aeronautics, AIAA, 1977; Space Resources and Space Settlements, edited by O'Neill, Billingham, Gilbreath and O'Leary, NASA SP-428, 1979; and The New Solar System, edited by Beatty, O'Leary and Chaikin, Sky Publishing Co. and Cambridge University Press, 1981. Has also authored more than ten books, including: The Making of an Ex-Astronaut; Houghton Mifflin, 1970; The Fertile Stars; Everest House, 1981; Project Space Station, Stackpole Books,1983; Mars 1999, Stackpole Books, 1987; Exploring Inner and Outer Space: A Scientist's Perspective on Personal and Planetary Transformation, North Atlantic Books, 1989; Miracle in the Void, self published, 1996; Re-Inheriting the Earth, self published, 2003; and The Energy Solution Revolution, self published, 2008.

EXPERIENCE: From 1961 to 1962, Brian O’Leary was a physicist at the Aeronomy and Meteorology Division at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; from 1964 to 1967, he was a research assistant at Space Sciences Laboratory, at the University of California at Berkeley; after resigning from NASA, he held numerous faculty positions at various universities, including: from 1968 to 1969, he was a research associate astronomer and, from 1969 to 1971, he was assistant professor of astronomy at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York; from 1970 to 1971, he was a visiting member of the faculty at the California Institute of Technology and a deputy team leader for the Mariner 10 Venus-Mercury TV Science Team; from 1971 to 1972, he was a visiting associate professor at the school of law, teaching technology assessment, at the University of California at Berkeley and he was a senior consultant at the NASA Ames Research Center; from 1972 to 1975, he was an assistant professor of astronomy and science policy assessment at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts; from 1976 to 1981, he was a research staff and lecturer for the Department of Physics at Princeton University in New Jersey; from 1980 to 1982, he was a consultant for the MIT Sloane School at Cambridge, Massachusetts; from 1986 to 1987 he was a visiting lecturer in physics at California State University in Long Beach; and in 2003 he was a professor in the Masters Degree Program in Transformational Psychology at the University of Philosophical Research at Los Angeles, California. O’Leary has also held several non-academic positions, including: from 1975 to 1976, he was a special staff consultant on energy for the U.S. House Interior Committee subcommittee on energy and the environment, and a consultant for the U.S. Senate Government Operations Committee; from 1979 to 1980, he was the special projects editor for Sky & Telescope Magazine in Cambridge, Massachusetts and, from 1982 to 1987, he was a senior scientist at Science Applications International Corporation in Hermosa Beach, California.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Brian O’Leary was selected as a scientist-astronaut by NASA in August 1967. After completing a Ph.D. thesis on the physical properties of the Martian surface, O'Leary was specifically selected for a potential manned Mars mission when it was still in NASA's program plan. When that program was cancelled in 1968, he resigned from the astronaut program because of lack of prospects for a space flight. During the following decades, his relationship with NASA continued as an academic scientist in unmanned planetary exploration, advanced concepts for space manufacturing of non-terrestrial materials, formulating low-cost scenarios for joint U.S.-Soviet manned missions to Phobos and Mars, and helping NASA design a habitable space station. Most recently, he has investigated advanced antigravity propulsion and free energy concepts as an outside scientist.

Lapis Pig

Current: Re-Inheriting The Earth

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