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Brian O'Leary

Brian O'Leary

American astronomer, astronaut, writer, blogger and advocate
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American astronomer, astronaut, writer, blogger and advocate
Countries United States of America
Occupations Astronomer Astronaut Scientist Blogger
A.K.A. '''Brian Todd O'Leary'''
Gender male
Birth January 27, 1940
Death July 28, 2011
Brian O'Leary
The details

Brian Todd O'Leary (January 27, 1940 – July 28, 2011) was 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, which was ultimately canceled.


O'Leary was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts on January 27, 1940, and credited 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 in the Boy Scouts of America were among his pre-astronautic activities. O'Leary had two children by his first wife, and was married to the artist Meredith Miller when he died. He enjoyed photography, hiking, cartooning, jazz piano and yoga.


O'Leary graduated from Belmont High School, Belmont, Massachusetts in 1957. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics from Williams College in 1961, a Master of Arts degree in Astronomy from Georgetown University in 1964, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Astronomy from the University of California, 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; 2007–2011, Fellow, World Innovation Foundation.

Astronaut program

The members of NASA Astronaut Group 6. O'Leary is at the far right.

While attending graduate school in astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, O'Leary published several scientific papers on the atmosphere of Mars. 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 NASA Astronaut Corps during the Apollo program. O'Leary resigned from the astronaut program in April 1968, and cited several reasons for resigning in his The Making of an Ex-Astronaut.

Academic career

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 as a research associate (1968-1969) and assistant professor of astronomy (1969-1971). While at Cornell, he studied lunar mascons. During the 1970-1971 academic year, O'Leary was deputy team leader of the Mariner 10 Venus-Mercury TV Science Team as a visiting researcher at the California Institute of Technology. The team received NASA's group achievement award for its participation. He subsequently taught astronomy, physics, and science policy assessment at several academic institutions, including San Francisco State University (associate professor of astronomy and interdisciplinary sciences; 1971-1972), the UC Berkeley School of Law (visiting associate professor; 1971–1972), Hampshire College (assistant professor of astronomy and science policy assessment; 1972–1975), Princeton University (research staff and lecturer in physics; 1976–1981) and California State University, Long Beach (visiting lecturer in physics; 1986-1987).

O'Leary authored several popular books and more than one hundred peer-reviewed articles in the fields of planetary science, astronautics, and science policy. At Princeton, 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. He suggested that Earth-approaching asteroids and the moons of Mars would be the most accessible space-based resource for space colonies.

O'Leary was an early proponent of coordinating observations and interpretations of stellar occultations by planetary satellites and asteroids. He wrote and edited popular books on astronomy and astronautics. During the 1970s and 1980s, he was a regular contributor to Omni, Science Digest, New Scientist, Astronomy and Sky & Telescope.

Political activities

O'Leary became politically active early in his career and participated in a demonstration in Washington, D.C. in 1970, to protest the Cambodian Campaign. Richard Nixon administration officials invited O'Leary and his fellow Cornell professors into the White House to present their grievances and the protest was the lead story of CBS Evening News on May 9, 1970, and depicted O'Leary as a protestor. He 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. He 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. He participated in a peace cruise along the Dnieper River in the Ukraine with the first Westerners to visit the area in decades.

The Frontiers of Science

A remote viewing experience in 1979 and a near-death experience in 1982 initiated O'Leary's departure from orthodox science. After Princeton, O'Leary worked in the space industry at Science Applications International Corporation in Hermosa Beach, California, beginning in 1982. He refused to work on military space applications, for which reason he lost his position there in 1987. Beginning in 1987, O'Leary increasingly explored unorthodox ideas, particularly the relationship between consciousness and science, and became widely known for his writings on "the frontiers of science, space, energy and culture". He advocated scientific testing of phenomena not currently recognized by orthodox science.

He lectured extensively since the 1980s on science and consciousness, in places such as the Findhorn Foundation, Esalen Institute, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Unity Churches, Religious Science churches and Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. He extensively traveled internationally during his investigations, which included visiting scientific laboratories and mystics such as Sathya Sai Baba. In the mid-1990s, he began to write about his investigations regarding innovative technologies that allegedly utilize energy sources that science does not currently recognize (also called "new energy"), and how those technologies can transform the planet and the human journey. He believed there is an extraterrestrial presence on Earth, its relationship to those potentially transformative technologies, and their conjoined organized suppression.

In 2003, O'Leary founded the New Energy Movement. Shortly after his new energy colleague Eugene Mallove was murdered in 2004, he moved to Ecuador, where he resided for the rest of his life. He continued to travel and publicly lecture on the subject of new energy and planetary healing.

In 2005, O'Leary wrote the foreword to Steven M. Greer's Hidden Truth, Forbidden Knowledge (Crossing Point, 2006, ISBN 0-9673238-2-7), which is concerned with the extraterrestrial presence on Earth and related free energy, anti-gravity and other exotic technologies. He participated in the Face on Mars debate.

In 2007, he presented his paper, "Renewable and Unconventional Energy for a Sustainable Future: Can We Convert in Time?", at the International Energy Conference and Exhibition in Daegu, South Korea. With Meredith Miller, his artist wife, he co-founded the Montesueños Eco-Retreat in Vilcabamba, Ecuador in 2008, which is devoted to "peace, sustainability, the arts and new science".

In 2009, O'Leary published The Energy Solution Revolution. In 2010, he published "The Turquoise Revolution", the cover story for the September/October 2010 issue of Infinite Energy Magazine


O'Leary contracted skin cancer in his 60s, which he treated with an alternative methodology involving a substance called Cansema. After having his second heart attack in 2010, he died of intestinal cancer on July 28, 2011, soon after diagnosis, at his home in Vilcabamba.


  • The Making of an Ex-Astronaut 1970. ISBN 0671772856.
  • The Fertile Stars 1981. ISBN 089696079X.
  • Project Space Station 1983. ISBN 0811717011.
  • Mars 1999 1987. ISBN 0811709825.
  • Exploring Inner & Outer Space 1989. ISBN 155643068X.
  • The Second Coming of Science 1993. ISBN 155643152X.
  • Miracle in the Void: Free Energy, UFOs and Other Scientific Revelations 1996. ISBN 096478260X.
  • Reinheriting the Earth 2003. ISBN 0939040379.
  • The Energy Solution Revolution 2009. ISBN 0979917646.

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