Les Johnson is the Senior Technical Advisor for NASA’s Advanced Concepts Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He is the Principal Investigator (PI) of NEA Scout, an asteroid reconnaissance mission planned for launch in 2017 and the NASA Co-Investigator (Co-I) for the European Union’s Deploytech Solar Sail demonstration mission planned for launch in 2015. He was the NASA Co-I for the JAXA T-Rex Space Tether Experiment and PI of NASA’s ProSEDS 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.
Les is a frequent contributor to the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and a member of the National Space Society, the World Future Society, and MENSA. He serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for the British Interplanetary Society and is Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop. Les was the featured “interstellar explorer” in the January 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine.
Les is an author of four popular science books about space exploration, “Living Off the Land in Space,” “Solar Sailing: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel,” “Paradise Regained: The Regreening of Earth,” and “Sky Alert: When Satellites Fail;” and three science fiction books “Back to the Moon,” “Going Interstellar,” and “Rescue Mode.”
Les earned his Master’s degree in physics from Vanderbilt University in 1986 and his Bachelor’s degree from Transylvania University in 1984.