Author/Science Guest of Honor
Les Johnson is an author, a scientist and a NASA technologist. Les has authored or co-authored several popular science books including Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel (2014), Harvesting Space for a Greener Earth, and Sky Alert: When Satellites Fail. He is also a science fiction writer; his books include Going Interstellar and (Mars) Rescue Mode, with co-author Ben Bova. He recently received the Watkins Award for his science writing.
In his day job, Les serves as the Technical Advisor for NASA’s Advanced Concepts Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center. He is the Principal Investigator for the NASA Near-Earth Asteroid Scout mission, a Co-Investigator for the European InflateSail solar sail demonstration mission, and was the Principal Investigator of NASA’s ProSEDS space tether experiment. During his career at NASA, he served as the Manager for the Space Science Programs and Projects Office, the In-Space Propulsion Technology Program, and the Interstellar Propulsion Research Project. He thrice received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal and has 3 patents.
He was recently interviewed on Public Radio’s Science Friday and has appeared in numerous space-related documentaries on The Science Channel, The Discovery Channel and NatGeo. And, yes, he is a long time science fiction fan – he attended his first con when he was a senior in high school.