Our Team

Rusty Schweickart, Chair Emeritus

    schweickart_rusty1Rusty, an Apollo 9 astronaut, was the first Lunar Module Pilot on the mission. He co-founded the B612 Foundation with Ed Lu, and served as its chairman until 2011. He is the founder of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) and served as president of ASE-USA. He also founded and chaired the ASE-NEO Committee, which, with its international Panel on Asteroid Threat Mitigation, produced and submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) the seminal report Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Response.

    Subsequently, Rusty also co-chaired, along with astronaut Tom Jones, the NASA Advisory Council’s Task Force on Planetary Defense. From the late 1970s, Rusty was named by California Governor Jerry Brown to serve as Assistant for Science and Technology, and from 1979-1983, served as Chairman of the California Energy Commission. Subsequently, he was founder and CEO of several space and Internet startups.

    American former astronaut, research scientist, US Air Force fighter pilot, business and government executive.

    Chosen in NASA’s third astronaut group, is best known as the Lunar Module pilot on the Apollo 9 mission, the first manned flight test of the LM.

    Performed the first in-space test of the Portable Life Support System used by the Apollo astronauts who walked on the Moon.

    Backup commander of the first Skylab mission, responsible for developing the hardware and procedures used by the first crew to perform critical in-flight repairs of the Skylab station.

    Served for a time as Director of User Affairs in NASA’s Office of Applications.

    Meteor and asteroid events give new focus for our vital Sentinel telescope,” The Guardian, February 15, 2013

    The Real Deflection Dilemma. AIAA Paper 17184, Russell L. Schweickart

    Abstract (PDF)
    Full paper (PDF)

    The Mechanics of Moving Asteroids. AIAA Paper 17201, D. J. Scheeres and R. L. Schweickart.

    Abstract (PDF)
    Full paper (PDF)

    “The Asteroid Tugboat,” Scientific American, November 2003. Russell L. Schweickart, Edward T. Lu, Piet Hut, and Clark Chapman. (PDF)

    NASA Distinguished Service Medal, 1969

    National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustees Award (Emmy), 1969

    Federation Aeronautique Internationale De La Vaux Medal, 1970

    NASA Exceptional Service Medal,1973


    NASA Service

    Schweickart was chosen as part of NASA Astronaut Group 3 in October 1963. On March 21, 1966, he was named as the back-up Pilot for Roger B. Chaffee on Apollo 1, which was to have been the first manned Apollo flight. His fellow crewmen were backup Command Pilot James McDivitt and Senior Pilot David Scott, both veterans of Project Gemini. In December 1966, this crew was promoted to fly the first manned Earth orbital test of the Apollo Lunar Module (LM), with Schweickart as Lunar Module Pilot.

    This mission was finally flown as Apollo 9 in March 1969. Schweickart spent just over 241 hours in space, and performed the first extravehicular activity (EVA) of the Apollo program, testing the Portable Life Support System that was later used by the 12 astronauts who walked on the Moon. The flight plan called for him to demonstrate an emergency transfer from the Lunar Module to the Command Module (CM) using handrails on the LM, but he began to suffer from space sickness on the first day in orbit, forcing the postponement of the EVA. Eventually he improved enough to perform a relatively brief EVA with his feet restrained on the LM “porch” (a platform used in transferring to the descent ladder), while Command Module Pilot Scott performed a stand-up EVA through the open hatch of the CM.

    The time Schweickart spent after this space mission studying space sickness contributed to his missing assignments on the Apollo lunar missions. Schweickart instead served as backup commander for the first Skylab space station mission, which flew during the spring of 1973. Following the loss of the space station’s thermal shield during launch, he assumed responsibility for the development of hardware and procedures for erecting an emergency solar shade and deploying a jammed solar array wing, operations which saved the space station. Schweickart was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1969, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1973.

    Career after NASA

    Schweickart has spoken and taught at the Esalen Institute. Schweickart is also the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of the B612 Foundation, a group that aims to defend Earth from asteroid impacts.


    In the 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, Schweickart is portrayed by Kieran Mulroney.

    Schweickart appeared in the television series The Universe in the episodes “The End of the Earth: Deep Space Threats to Our Planet” and “Stopping Armageddon”.

    In May 2005 Schweickart told the U.S. Congress that a space flight to attach a transponder onto the asteroid 99942 Apophis (formerly named 2004 MN4) should be a high priority. Some astronomers estimated that this asteroid has a chance of about one in 6000 of striking the Earth in the 21st century. Later data indicate that the chance of Apophis hitting the Earth is about one in 45,000 in the year 2036.


    Schweickart approved the story of his life and career that appeared in the book In the Shadow of the Moon in 2007.

    In 2010, Schweickart served as the co-chairman of the NASA Advisory Council Ad Hoc Task Force on Planetary Defense.


    Schweickart, along with cosmonauts Alexey Leonov, Vitaly Sevastyanov, and Georgi Grechko, established the Association of Space Explorers in 1984. Membership is open to all people who have flown in outer space.

    We feel a certain urgency to ‘get on with it’ so that we can be confident that we’re not going to have a cosmic disaster here for no good, justifiable reason, just because we didn’t get with it. So let’s get with it. That’s the name of the game.

    Rusty Schweickart

    Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 9

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