Brian O'Leary's Biography
By Wade Frazier
I first met Brian in 1991, and our paths have intersected and diverged over the years. In the summer of 2009, Brian asked me to help redress the lack of a NASA biography for him, and to improve his Wikipedia biography. I felt that, strategically, it was better to get the NASA biography published first. Brian’s NASA biography was published in the spring of 2010, and after several drafts with Brian’s feedback, I began the Wikipedia biography publishing process in December 2010. I have had negative encounters with Wikipedia in the past, but I hope that it goes better this time.
After crafting Brian’s initial biography draft, I realized that it did not quite align with Wikipedia’s guidelines (most issues were related to “notability,” “first-person,” and “not reported elsewhere” reasons), so I further edited it. However, Brian’s amazing life should eventually be the subject of a professional biography (especially if humanity enters a free energy epoch), and I hope that the following initial draft helps that biographer(s) one day.
Brian Todd O’Leary (born January 27, 1940) is an American scientist, author, and former NASA astronaut. He was a member of the sixth group of astronauts selected by NASA in August 1967. The members of this group of eleven were known as the scientist-astronauts, intended to train for the Apollo Applications Program - a follow-on to the Apollo Program. He is currently an advocate of utilizing exotic energy sources to resolve humanity’s energy problems.
O’Leary was born and raised in Boston, and credits a teenage visit to Washington, D.C. with inspiring the patriotism that drove his efforts to become an astronaut. Climbing the Matterhorn, running the Boston Marathon and becoming an Eagle Scout were among his pre-astronautic activities. O’Leary has two children and enjoys photography, hiking, cartooning, puppetry, jazz piano and yoga.
O'Leary 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.
O’Leary became a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1975. Other organizations are: 1970-1976, secretary of the American Geophysical Union’s Planetology Section; 1977, team leader of the Asteroidal Resources Group, NASA Ames Summer Study on Space Settlements; 1976-1979, member of the nominating committee of the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences; 1983-1985, chairman of the board of directors of the Institute for Security and Cooperation in Space; 1990, founding board member of the International Association for New Science; 2003 founding president of the New Energy Movement; 2007-, Fellow, World Innovation Foundation.
While attending graduate school in astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley, O’Leary published several scientific papers on the Martian atmosphere. O’Leary’s Ph.D. thesis in 1967 was on the Martian surface. Soon after completing his Ph.D. thesis, O'Leary was the first astronaut specifically selected for a potential manned Mars mission when it was still in NASA's program plan projected for the 1980s as a follow-on to the Apollo lunar program. O’Leary was the only planetary scientist-astronaut in the astronaut corps during the Apollo program. The manned Mars mission program was cancelled in early 1968. O’Leary resigned from the astronaut program in April 1968, and cited several reasons for resigning in his The Making of an Ex-Astronaut, which included the cancellation of the Mars program.
After O’Leary’s resignation from NASA, Carl Sagan recruited him to teach at Cornell University in 1968, where he researched and lectured until 1971. While teaching at Cornell, he studied lunar mascons. O’Leary subsequently taught astronomy, physics, and science policy assessment at several academic institutions, including the University of California at Berkeley School of Law (1971-1972) Hampshire College (1972-75) and Princeton University (1976-1981), where he taught the popular Physics for Poets course for liberal arts majors (and lectured at a similar course at Georgetown). O’Leary has been a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1975.
O’Leary has authored several popular books and more than one hundred peer-reviewed articles in the fields of planetary science, astronautics, and science policy. He was one of the more visible scientists who participated in Gerard K. O'Neill and the L5 Society's plans for an orbiting city. O’Leary was the first to posit that Earth-approaching asteroids and the moons of Mars would be the most accessible space-based resource for space colonies. O’Leary was the first to coordinate observations and interpretations of stellar occultations by planetary satellites and asteroids. O’Leary also wrote and edited popular books on astronomy and astronautics. During the 1970s and 1980s, O’Leary was a regular contributor to the magazines Omni, Science Digest, New Scientist, Astronomy, and Sky and Telescope.
O’Leary became politically active early in his career. He participated in a demonstration in Washington D.C. in 1970, to protest the war in Cambodia. Nixon administration officials invited O’Leary and his fellow Cornell professors into the White House to present their grievances and their meeting appeared as the lead story of CBS Evening News on May 9, 1970. O’Leary was Morris Udall’s energy advisor during his 1975-1976 campaign for U.S. president, and served under Udall as a special staff consultant on energy for the U.S. House Interior Committee subcommittee on energy and the environment in 1975-1976. O’Leary advised other U.S. presidential candidates, including George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Jesse Jackson, and Dennis Kucinich.
During those years, he also immersed himself in several controversies relating to NASA’s objectives, including its manned lunar landings, the Space Shuttle, and the weaponization of space. O’Leary promoted a joint manned mission to Mars between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. O’Leary twice traveled to the Soviet Union in the late 1980s to promote the peaceful exploration of space. O’Leary participated in a peace cruise along the Dnieper River in the Ukraine and with the first fellow Westerners to visit the area in decades.
After Princeton, O’Leary worked in the space industry at Science Applications International Corporation in Hermosa Beach, California, beginning in 1982, but refused to work on military space applications, which resulted in losing his position there in 1987.
A remote-viewing experience in 1979 and a near-death experience in 1982 initiated O’Leary’s departure from orthodox science. Beginning in 1987, O’Leary increasingly explored the frontiers of science, particularly the relationship between consciousness and science. He has traveled and lectured extensively since the 1980s on science and consciousness, in places such as the Findhorn Foundation, Esalen Institute, Omega Institute, Unity Churches, Religious Science churches and Sivananda yoga ashrams. He co-founded the International Association for New Science, having hosted several international symposia and think tanks in Colorado during the 1990s. He extensively traveled internationally during his investigations, which included visiting scientific laboratories and mystics such as Sathya Sai Baba. In the mid-1990s, O’Leary began to write about his investigations regarding innovative technologies that generally utilize energy sources that orthodox science does not currently recognize (also called new energy), and how those technologies can transform the planet and the human journey. O’Leary has acknowledged the extraterrestrial presence on Earth and its relationship to those potentially transformative technologies, and their conjoined organized suppression. O’Leary also participated in the Face on Mars issue.
In March 2001, O'Leary appeared briefly in Fox TV's "Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon," stating that "I can't say 100% for sure whether these men walked on the moon. It is possible that NASA could have covered it up, just in order to cut corners, and to be the first to allegedly go to the moon." In March 2011, O’Leary published his “last word” on his involvement in the controversy.
Beginning in 2002, O’Leary has served on the faculty in the Masters program in Transformational Psychology at the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles, and taught a course in Science, Ecology, Ethics, and Consciousness. In 2002, O’Leary became a certified Sivananda yoga instructor.
In 2003, O’Leary founded the New Energy Movement. Shortly after his new energy colleague Eugene Mallove was murdered in 2004, O’Leary moved to Ecuador, where he since resided. O’Leary has continued to travel and publicly lecture on the subject of new energy and planetary healing. With his artist wife Meredith Miller, in 2008 he co-established the Montesueños Eco-Retreat in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, which is devoted to “peace, sustainability, the arts and new science.” Montesueños has hosted the Phoenix Gathering, Camelot Conference, Crisis and Opportunity 2009 and 2010 conferences, think tanks on innovation, his proposed Ecuador Initiative for innovation to replace oil extraction in the rainforest, and conferences in the frontier sciences and new energy. In 2010, O’Leary published The Turquoise Revolution. He was appointed Fellow at the World Innovation Foundation, director of Ecuador Affairs for the Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization (affiliated with the United Nations), and co-founder of the Global Innovation Alliance.
 Among the papers on Mars published before O’Leary’s astronaut selection were: D.G. Rea and B.T. O'Leary: “Visible Polarization Data of Mars”, Nature, vol. 206, June 12, 1965, pp. 1138-1140; O'Leary, B.:, “A Revised Upper Limit of NO2 in the Martian Atmosphere”, Publ. of the Astronomical Soc. of the Pacific, vol. 12, no. 456, June 1965; D. G. Rea, B. T. O'Leary, and W. M. Sinton, "Mars: the origin of the 3.58- and 3.69 mu bands in its infrared spectrum", Science, 147, pp. 1286-1288, March 1965; B.T. O'Leary and D.G. Rea, "The influence of topography on the formation of temporary bright patches on Mars", Science, 155, 317, January 1967.
 O’Leary’s Ph.D. thesis was: “Mars: Visible and Near-Infrared Studies and the Composition of the Surface”, Department of Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley, 1967, abstract in Astronomical Journal, 72, pp. 317-319.
 http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/oleary-bt.html; O’Leary, B: The Making of an Ex-Astronaut, Houghton Mifflin, 1970, pp. 51-52, ISBN 0671772856. In the above autobiography, O'Leary describes his astronaut selection committee interview in which his unique Mars credentials and willingness to risk a two-year hazardous mission to Mars were discussed.
 O'Leary, B. T., "The influence of lunar mascons on its dynamical figure", Nature, 220, 1309, 1968; B. T. O'Leary, M. J. Campbell, and C. Sagan, "Lunar and planetary mass concentrations", Science, 165, 651-657, August 1969; Malcolm J. Campbell, Brian T. O'Leary, and Carl Sagan, "Moon: two new mascon basins", Science, 164, 1273-1275, June 1969.
 Bruce C. Murray, Brian O'Leary, et al, “Venus: Atmospheric Motion and Structure from Mariner 10 Pictures”, Science, 183, 1307, March 1974, and with same authors, "Mercury's surface: preliminary description and interpretation from Mariner 10 pictures", Science, 185, 169, July 1974; O'Leary, "Venus: vertical structure of stratospheric hazes from Mariner 10 pictures", Journal of Atmospheric Science, 32, 1091, June 1975; O'Leary, "Comments on Mariner 10 and Ground-based UV observations of Venus”, Conference on the atmosphere of Venus, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, October 1974, pp. 63-68, and in same publication: O'Leary, "Stratospheric hazes from Mariner 10 limb pictures of Venus", pp. 129-132. O’Leary also predicted the existence of a gigantic mascon and circular basin at one of the "hot poles" of Mercury and was confirmed later by Mariner 10 images. He named the feature today called the Caloris Basin because of the high surface temperature at that particular location.
 O’Leary, Brian T.; and O’Neill, Gerard K., "Space manufacturing, satellite power and human exploration", Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 4, 3., Maney Publishing, September 1979, pp. 193-207; O'Neill, Gerard K.; Driggers, G.; and O'Leary, B.: “New Routes to Manufacturing in Space”, Astronautics and Aeronautics, vol. 18, October 1980, pp. 46-51; O'Leary, B., Space Industrialization, CRC Press, 1982, ISBN 0-8493-5890-6 (vol. 1) and ISBN 0-8493-5891-4 (vol. 2).
 O'Leary, B: "Mining the Apollo and Amor Asteroids", Science, 197, July 1977, pp. 363-366; O'Leary, Brian, “Mining the Earth-Approaching Asteroids for Their Precious and Strategic Metals”, Advances in the Astronautical Sciences, Volume 53, Proceedings of Princeton Conference on Space Manufacturing, 1983, edited by James D. Burke and April S. Whitt, San Diego, American Astronautical Society, pp. 375-389; B. O’Leary, “Phobos & Deimos as Resource & Exploration Centers,” The Case for Mars II, Christopher McKay, editor, presented at the 2nd Case For Mars conference, Boulder, CO, July 10-14, 1984, AAS 84-164, 1985, pp. 225-245; O'Leary, Brian, “Mars 1999: A Concept for Low-Cost Near Term Human Exploration and Propulsion Processing on Phobos and Deimos”, Case for Mars III, AAS-204, 1989; Brian O’Leary, “Rationales for Early Human Missions to Phobos and Deimos”, Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century, edited by W.W. Mendell, Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, pp. 801-808, ISBN 0942862023; Space Manufacturing from Nonterrestrial Materials, edited by G. O'Neill and B. O'Leary, vol. 57 of Progress in Astronautics and Aeronautics, AIAA, 1977; Space Resources and Space Settlements, edited by John Billingham, William Gilbreath and Brian O'Leary, NASA SP-428, 1979; in the same publication is “Retrieval of Asteroidal Materials”, Brian O'Leary, Michael J. Gaffey, David J. Ross, and Robert Salkeld, pp. 142-154.
 Taylor, G.E., O'Leary, B., et al “Occultation of Beta Scorpii C by Io on May 14, 1971”, Nature, 234, 405-406, 1971; Brian O’Leary, “Frequencies of Occultations of Stars by Planets, Satellites, and Asteroids”, Science, 175, March 1972, pp. 1108-1112; B.T. O'Leary and T.C. Van Flandern, “Io's triaxial figure”, Icarus, 17, 1972, pp. 209-215; R.W. Carlson, B. O’Leary, et al, “An Atmosphere on Ganymede from Its Occultation of SAO 186800 on 7 June 1972”, Science, 182, 53, October 1973, pp. 53-55.
 Brian O’Leary, The Fertile Stars, Everest House, 1981, ISBN 0-89696-079-X; The New Solar System, edited by J. Kelly Beatty, Brian O'Leary, and Andrew Chaiken, Cambridge University Press and Sky Publishing Corp, 1981, ISBN 0521238811.
 CBS Special - "Colleges, Cambodia, and Confrontation", which originally aired on May 9, 1970.
 O’Leary, B.: “Topics – Science – Or Stunts – On the Moon?”, The New York Times, April 25, 1970; “The Wild Blue Space Shuttle”, The New York Times, January 20, 1971; “Do We Really Want a Space Shuttle?”, The New York Times, February 16, 1972; “Space Hawks: Military Race to Keep Shuttle Flying”, The Globe and Mail, April 6, 1981. “Wanted: A Space Program that will Fly into the Future”, Los Angeles Times, January 22, 1984. O’Leary testified at the space authorization hearings in the U.S. Senate; Congressional Record, June 29, 1971 (the same day that U.S. Senator Mike Gravel read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record).
 O’Leary, B.: “Will U.S. Join Russians for a Trip to Mars in 1998? / The benefits, both scientific and economic, of a joint-manned Martian expedition are incalculable”, San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 1986; O’Leary, B,: Mars 1999 – Exclusive Preview of the U.S. – Soviet Manned Mission, Stackpole Books, 1987, ISBN 0811709825.
 "Peace Cruise on the Dnieper", Soviet Life, February 1990, p. 16.
 In 2005, O’Leary wrote the forward to Steven Greer’s Hidden Truth, Forbidden Knowledge (Crossing Point, 2006, ISBN 0967323827), which is concerned with the extraterrestrial presence on Earth and related free energy, anti-gravity and other exotic technologies.
 O'Leary, B.: "Analysis of images of the Face on Mars and possible intelligent origin", Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 43, 1990, pp. 203-208; O’Leary, B.: “Carl Sagan and I: On Opposite Sides of Mars”, in McDaniel, S. and Paxson, M., eds., The Case for the Face, Adventures Unlimited Press, 1998, pp. 40-44, ISBN 0932813593.
 This biography was first published at Wikipedia in December 2010. Brian seems to be best known for the moon hoax issue, although his participation has been very limited. My initial biography incorporated the language from the Wikipedia biography’s previous version, and I placed it within the “Frontiers of Science” section. An editor quickly gave the moon hoax issue its own section, and most edits since then have been to that section. Brian’s relationship to the moon hoax issue may always be a political football, at least until cameras return to the lunar landing sites and provide clearer images than have been seen to date. In early March 2011, I asked Brian his desire regarding the moon hoax issue, and he provided me with the following statement.
Dr. Brian O'Leary's "final word" about the moon landing hoax or non-hoax issue
Often I'm confronted with my opinion about an issue which has polar-opposite constituencies. And now and then, that issue is couched in black-and-white terms which, as a scientist, I cannot be 100% sure of without further study. That regrettably happened regarding whether or not the Apollo lunar landings were hoaxed.
When confronted with these questions in the media, and in a speculative frame of mind (in my later years, I'm a fairly free thinker and so am a truth-seeker outside any vested interests whenever I can be), many related questions came to me and caused me to think more deeply about the issue: Wouldn't NASA want to save face in one or more of the lunar landings and have a backup scenario such as this, unlikely as this could be? Could at least some of the astronauts merely have orbited the Moon and not landed because of technical challenges at times during the race to the Moon?
is, I don't know these things for sure, but my statements have
been manipulated by both opposing sides of the issue to imply
I'm taking their side. I'm not, although one would get the
impression that I am.
This flap is regrettable, because I have simply not sufficiently examined the scientific evidence on either side of the issue. So, in good conscience as a competent scientist, I cannot form an expert opinion without much more detailed research that could come out of an impartial investigation. I have chosen not to take the time to do the research needed to form an authoritative opinion. I'm sorry if the politicized nature of the debate seemed to have put me in the forefront of the debate, and for that I may have helped give both sides some ammunition to do so.
My choice now is simply to carry on with my own work rather than address issues relating to past events. My choice is partially based on a desire to focus on what we need to do NOW about our pressing global problems such as war, torture, injustice, climate change, environmental pollution, dirty energy and water, deforestation, nonrenewable resource exploitation and unsustainable environmental, health and agricultural practices. In these respects, my public persona mismatches who I really am and what I truly represent. So, I'd like to be relieved of the responsibility for having a strong polarized position on an issue about which I know little and cannot contribute much to the greater responsibility we have as a civilization.
With best wishes for a satisfactory resolution of the matter,
My relationship with Brian on this issue goes back to 2001, and I have watched him vacillate on the issue although, as he admits, he has not deeply examined the evidence. I continue to be willing to consider the evidence that the moon landings were faked. When I looked into it, on-and-off, for about ten years and then spent a few months in early 2001 examining the evidence, none of the moon hoax evidence, in the final analysis, I considered persuasive. I have yet to see any evidence that provides strong support that either the landings never happened or that the evidence was manipulated or fabricated. For the past ten years, every attempt to revive the moon hoax issue that I have seen has been recycling unpersuasive evidence and outright disinformation. Plenty has been covered up about NASA’s findings and related issues but, in my opinion, the moon landings are not one of those issues, as far as them being faked or the related evidence being unduly manipulated. In his old age, Brian is tackling issues infinitely more important than whether the moon landings were faked or not, and we both hope that his statement above completes his involvement in the moon hoax issue.
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3cBOq5-nZw - Project Camelot interview. In 2007, O’Leary presented a paper titled, "Renewable and Unconventional Energy for a Sustainable Future: Can We Convert in Time?", at the International Energy Conference and Exhibition in, Daigu, S. Korea http://www.brianoleary.info/Renewable%20and%20Unconventional%20Energy%20for%20a%20Sustainable%20Future%20v2.html.
 The Turquoise Revolution (http://www.brianoleary.info/TheTurquoiseRevolution.pdf) was the cover story for the September/October 2010 issue of Infinite Energy Magazine, volume 10, issue 93 (http://www.infinite-energy.com/iemagazine/issue93/index.html).
I asked Brian to write the Mars portion of his NASA biography, because only he could write it properly. Brian’s Mars credentials are unique; he was the first astronaut selected with a manned interplanetary mission in mind.
Mars has captured humanity’s imagination for millennia. NASA has planned manned Mars missions for many years. Werner von Braun published the earliest plans for a manned Mars mission, and his relationship to NASA is controversial. In Brian’s The Making of an Ex-astronaut, on pages 51-52, published in 1970, Brian recorded the following conversation from his astronaut candidate interview:
“’Dr. O’Leary, would you submit to a hazardous two-year journey to Mars?’”
“Grin. ‘Whew. A two-year trip to Mars. I must admit I haven’t given it much thought. Are you serious?’”
“’Sure we’re serious. You’re twenty-seven years old, you could be an astronaut for twenty years and within twenty years we could be sending men to Mars. And Mars is your field of specialty, isn’t it, Dr. O’Leary?’”
“’Yes, that’s true. I guess if you put it that way, I’d say yes with reservation. I’d want to have a reasonable chance of making it. And my wife would have her reservations about such a prolonged absence. On the other hand, I would love to go from a scientific and aesthetic point of view. It would be a fantastic experience, beyond my wildest dreams.’”
“’We asked you a question. Are you willing to take the Mars trip?’”
“’Well, I sort of think so, yes.’”
“’You’d better be willing.’”
“’OK, OK, I guess I’d go.’”
“’Dr. O’Leary, what sort of odds are you willing to take to risk death in actual numbers?’”
“’Wow. Risk? You mean, the probability of being killed on a given mission?’”
“’Well – I don’t know.’ Grin. Cold stares back. ‘I mean, you have no way of knowing what the chances are – the statistics are poor.’”
“’We put you in a rocket and flatly tell you that you have a one in two chance of making it. Would you go?’”
“’One in two? Certainly not. I guess that I would be willing to take a one in ten chance of being killed on a given mission if it seemed worthwhile, like a trip to the moon.’”
During the biography preparation process, Brian provided a couple of anecdotes. The first was that it was likely Alan Shepard who said, “You’d better be willing” to go to Mars; Shepard was an interviewer, as was Deke Slayton. Brian also met with von Braun a couple of times during his astronaut days. The second anecdote was that years after leaving NASA, one of von Braun’s close personal colleagues told Brian that von Braun influenced Brian’s astronaut selection, because he planned to build a Mars rocket (a big one). Brian was the first astronautic talent in the stable for von Braun’s Martian dream, and Brian was the only planetary scientist selected as an Apollo astronaut.
Until the Apollo 1 fire (which drove my father from NASA), the Space Race days were heady times. In early 1967, NASA advocated a manned Mars mission (a Venus manned flyby mission was also studied, possibly as part of the same mission), after the moon was conquered. Brian’s astronaut interview was in June 1967. His first day as a NASA employee was in August 1967. Between the interview and Brian’s first day, the budgetary tide turned decidedly against space exploration. The invasion of Vietnam had to be paid for somehow, and in early August 1967, NASA’s funding was aggressively cut. The Apollo Applications Program was a casualty of that budget cut, and on Brian’s first day at NASA, Deke Slayton encouraged Brian’s entire astronaut group to resign, which is why they were nicknamed the “Excess Eleven” (cleverly written “XS-11”). Brian’s selection with a manned Mars mission in mind coincided with a brief and unique historical moment. Manned Mars missions have been proposed many times since Brian’s NASA days, with the autumn of 2010 seeing public advocacy of one-way missions to Mars, to colonize it. When the media publicized that plan, Brian joked that he would be about ninety years old when it launched, and maybe he would finally get his chance.
Here are some pictures from Brian's life, taken from his books.
Brian emerging from NASA's centrifuge, where Brian experienced 9 Gs. Taken from Brian's The Making of an Ex-Astronaut.
Brian with Sathya Sai Baba, in 1992, after Sai Baba gave him the ring Brian is wearing. Sai Baba apparently manifested the ring, and when it was a little too big for Brian's finger, Baba blew on it, and it shrank to the right fit. Taken from Brian's The Second Coming of Science.
Brian climbing the Great Pyramid at Giza in 1985, at the vernal equinox sunrise. Taken from Brian's Exploring Inner and Outer Space.
The next section: Memories of Brian (141K) - Published in April 2012