Brian O'Leary

American astronomer, astronaut, writer, blogger and advocate (1940-2011)

Brian Todd O'Leary (January 27, 1940July 29, 2011) was an American scientist, author, political activist, alternative energy advocate, and NASA astronaut. He was part of NASA Astronaut Group 6, a group of scientist-astronauts chosen with the intention of training for the Apollo Applications Program.

Brian O'Leary in 1967



The Making of an Ex-Astronaut, 1970

  • Interviewer at astronaut interview: Dr. O’Leary, would you submit to a hazardous two-year journey to Mars?
    O’Leary: Whew. A two-year trip to Mars. I must admit that I haven’t given it much thought. Are you serious?
    Interviewer: 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?
    • the first time a human was asked to visit another planet, p. 51.
  • Deke [Slayton], I’ve spent a month now at flight school, have flown fifteen hours and soloed, and after much soul-searching, I have decided to resign from the program. I guess flying isn’t my cup of tea.
    • p. 198.

The New York Times, 1970s

  • Two years ago, I resigned from the scientist‐astronaut program primarily because of NASA's indifference to science in its manned space efforts. Since then an impressive array of scientists associated with the Apollo program have also resigned for similar reasons. They include the chief scientist, the director of the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, the principal investigator of Apollo lunar surface geology, the curator of the lunar samples, and another scientist-astronaut.

    It seems utterly incredible that so many well-respected scientists could resign at a time one would suppose to be their finest hour - the return of the first rocks and detailed pictures from the lunar surface. Eugene Shoemaker, now the chairman of Caltech's Division of Geological Sciences, quit his Apollo work “out of deep concern for the direction of the nation's space goal.” He described Apollo as a “poor system for exploring the moon… The same job could have been done with unmanned systems at one-fifth the cost three or four years ago.”

    […] In these times of conflicting, uncertain goals both inside and outside NASA, I think the unmanned planetary program provides a good example of what can be done. The Mariner 6 and 7 flyby missions gave us remarkable pictures and valuable scientific information, yet each cost less than 15 percent of the price of sending two test pilots to the moon.

    In the future, probes will be sent to the Martian surface and to the other planets; these relatively inexpensive projects should go far in satisfying our most fundamental reason for going into space: to understand nature and ourselves better by exploring the universe.

  • I sympathize with my former colleagues in Houston who are spending ten years, perhaps forever, awaiting their flights into space. But this alone cannot justify the shuttle.

    On the positive side, I believe that an unmanned space program emphasizing applications satellites and the exploration of the planets would be both economical and fundamental in our quest for knowledge. Such a program could be funded annually for between one and two billion dollars and thus free money and resources for more urgent priorities. Cooperating with the Soviet Union may reduce the costs further.

  • What I am suggesting is the indefinite postponement of the space shuttle program, a reduction in excessive NASA management costs and the establishment of a moderate unmanned space program emphasizing space science and applications. I believe all this can be done with an annual budget of less than $2 billion.

    How about changing the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston into the National Energy Research Center?

The Fertile Stars, 1981

  • Deforestation, pollution, carbon dioxide buildup, radioactive releases, strip-mining, and the danger of nuclear war are among the many sources of concern environmentalists have expressed about our future. The overwhelming consensus is that the planet is seriously threatened by environmental neglect.
    • p. 121.

Mars 1999, 1987

  • Can we really accomplish a program like Mars 1999? The sad truth is, we won’t be able to do it in today’s climate. Today’s paralysis will be tomorrow’s paralysis unless the workings of the institutions and the attitudes of individuals at the helm change toward the positive. The prerequisite to a successful Mars 1999 program is not engineering feasibility. It is people. And there is hope.

    Meanwhile, as the dust settles from Challenger, NASA continues to search its soul. In the wake of the accident, it becomes all the more evident that the U.S. civilian space program has been suffering from conflicting interests and goals, intercenter rivalries, uneconomical operations, and an apparent inability to make the sweeping changes that are required. Management of the space station program suffers from this confusion. The space agency’s technical achievements have been, and continue to be, extraordinary. Nowhere can more intelligent and competent engineers and scientists be found. But there appears to be a bureaucratic inertia that inhibits the innovative thinking and risk taking required to blaze new trails.

    • pp. 125-126.

Exploring Inner and Outer Space, 1989

  • My mind doubted that there was any meaning to this exercise. I had not been educated to believe that there could be anything real about telepathy. The demonstration of such powers was all idle speculation to me. Nevertheless, I stayed with the exercise, once again going into a deep trance.
    An image came up. I saw myself seeing a man, dark-haired and in his forties, walking along a beach on the west coast of Maui in Hawaii. He was without a woman and somewhat sad about it, as he walked into an idyllic make-believe house that I had made for him. I showed him globes and maps. He asked questions and we had a strong rapport. We looked up at billowing clouds, wafting above palm trees which were blowing in the wind. In this imaginative mock-up we shared, he was teaching me about the climate and physical geography of the Hawaiian Islands. I knew I wasn’t guessing. I was either “channeling” some truth or imagining something vivid. My female partner broke into my reverie to inform me that the man had lost his wife by death, was a meteorologist and journalist by profession, and had spent much time on Maui. She said my description fit him to a T.
    • p. 9.

The Second Coming of Science, 1993

  • In some respects our position is similar to that of the late eighteenth-century pioneers in electricity and magnetism, and also to that of early 20th-century relativists and quantum physicists who had to reconcile the otherworldly properties of the very large and the very small with the nature of ordinary, human-scale reality. But I believe that the New Science of today must take even a more fundamental “quantum” leap. As the experiments of Robert Jahn and others conclusively show, we are dealing with the direct interaction of the human mind not only with subatomic particles but with the gross, material world. This demands the development of new paradigms in physics, biology, and medicine, to say nothing of new models of consciousness itself.
    • p. 15.
  • In 1979 Jahn and I began to develop a new mutual interest, although we did not learn of our commonality until several years later. The subject was psychokenesis, and it was so far outside our left-brained aerospace view of reality that it would take several years before either of us felt comfortable speaking about it in public. We were “closet parapsychologists,” afraid to reveal ourselves to the skeptical frowns of our Princeton colleagues. Nevertheless we began, independently, to explore inner space; it was so intriguing and had such a siren’s call to our thirst for understanding that we simply had to heed it, even knowing that the world would look on in disbelief if it were disclosed.
    • p. 20.
  • We must now rewrite the laws of physics so that the results of such experiments are no longer anomalous. In doing so, we must never forget that the “laws” we write are simply reflections of our own current understanding of reality. They must never be confused with reality itself, which is always greater than the words and concepts we use in our attempts to manage it.
    • pp. 36-37.

Miracle in the Void, 1996

  • But, as the 1970s began to close, while holding a faculty position in the physics department at Princeton University, I began to have some experiences that appeared to violate the “laws of nature” that I had so revered and had taught as my gospel. A remote viewing experience, a near-death experience, a mind-over-matter healing of an “incurable” knee, all led me into a new territory which none of my scientific colleagues seemed to want to enter.
    • p. 5.
  • The governments and private industry in India and Japan are funding top-level scientists and engineers to develop free energy for commercial applications, something about which the American government appears to know little or nothing. Cold fusion pioneers Martin Fleischman and Stanley Pons, formerly of the University of Utah, are now in France being funded by a Japanese consortium. The inventor of the N-machine, Bruce DePalma, formerly of MIT, is now developing his free energy concepts in New Zealand. Other American inventors and researchers have gone underground most of the time (e.g. Thomas Bearden and Sparky Sweet), have been sued (Sweet), had their devices confiscated by the Government (e.g., the Canadian inventor John Hutchinson and American Dennis Lee), been convicted and jailed under questionable charges (Lee) and in at least one case have been told by the Government to change careers – or else (e.g. Adam Trombly).

    In all, I have met several dozen free energy researchers. What all of these individuals have in common is the underfunding of their work such that it proceeds to proof-of-concept but no further. Developing useful prototypes requires a much larger effort as would come from bringing the researchers together in a research and development effort analogous to the Apollo or Manhattan projects. But there has been no public and little private support for free energy inventors – particularly in the United States – even though this country is where most of the ideas come from. We seem to be so active in repressing this technology we have driven most of our brightest inventors away or underground.

    The remarkable fact is, we seem to have had this technology for one century! Nikola Tesla was among the first of such energy mavericks, who through the decades, have repeatedly demonstrated free energy, only to be suppressed later. For a whole century we probably didn’t have to pollute the Earth to meet our energy needs!

    • pp. 37-38.
  • Our American system may have initially been the lesser of evils, but the unfolding revelations of our true nature inherent in new science discoveries would clearly render most of the Federal Government’s pursuit of decadent technological initiatives such as Star Wars, nuclear overkill, NASA, DOE, and Department of Defense priorities and huge industrial infrastructure obsolete and a threat to our well-being.
    • p. 57.
  • […] my basis for confidence in declaring my reality checks as valid is based primarily on observing repeatable, nonlinear electric outputs in many demonstrations and in replicated experiments which I have witnessed. I could not explain the anomalous results in traditional ways. These direct observations combined with a rudimentary theoretical understanding of the physics give me reasonable confidence that the effects both measured and calculated are real.

    Add to this fact that I am building relationships with these individuals based on growing mutual respect and trust among colleagues. I would be surprised that all of these people, for the years of work they have put into these experiments, are either deliberately or naïvely fraudulent. On the contrary, these are the explorers of a new reality, often cut off from the mainstream, because the mainstream will more often than not debunk this reality, with a denial based on the most superficial and ad hoc reasoning.

    • p. 245.

Re-Inheriting the Earth, 2003

  • This situation is intensified by the fact that, in spite of the appearance of polluted cities of the Third World, the United States continues to lead the way in exploiting the environment. With only five percent of the world’s population, we Americans consume one-fourth of the world’s energy and one-third of its raw materials. I am not proud of this. My own sense of grief is especially heightened by the fact that I am a citizen of the leading polluter nation, as well as being an individual member of a supposedly sentient species which is causing the greatest mass extinction since that of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Most of us are complacent, distracted or conveniently ignorant, in part because of the overwhelming depth of the situation. As Walt Kelly’s Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us!”
    • pp. 36-37.
  • Observations such as the observer effect of quantum mechanics, psychokenesis, remote viewing, anomalous healing, UFOs, abductions, crop circles, precognition, near-death experiences, reincarnation, mediumship, free energy effects have all been investigated and verified as anomalous. It only takes time to integrate the widely scattered data, but once this is done, some patterns begin to emerge. From all this I proposed that we need a bigger box of scientific inquiry to embrace anomalous phenomena - a new science. Among many of these experiments, I found a common denominator some of us call consciousness.
    • p. 197.

The Energy Solution Revolution, 2009

  • My contemplation led to what might be one of the most radical and yet believable (to me) conspiracy theories of all: if we do our healing work well, someone will either point a gun to our heads (and maybe shoot it) or give us a bribe to keep quiet, to cease doing our work if we want to stay alive. Sometimes they can even order us to help them do their dirty work.
    • p. 22.
  • Dear Mr. [Al] Gore: I am a former astronaut, Cornell professor, physics faculty member at Princeton University and visiting faculty member in technology assessment at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, I was Mo Udall’s energy advisor and speechwriter during his 1975 Presidential campaign, author, AAAS Fellow, World Innovation Foundation Fellow, NASA group achievement award recipient, and founder of the New Energy Movement.

    You have asked the public to address the important question, “How can we reverse global climate change?” I agree that taking on that task is critical for our collective survival. You have also stated that we must freeze and drastically reduce our carbon emissions. I agree.

    The most promising answer to your question is surprisingly simple and can be summed up in two words: new energy. My experience finds that serious discussion of new energy is still politically incorrect in mainstream circles, which is appalling. Delays in implementing life-saving innovation will be at our collective risk and peril. The urgency for action in these times is unprecedented in the human journey. Quantum leaps in energy innovation, which some of us in the scientific community are aware of, can provide the needed solution, hopefully in time to avert global disaster.

    • pp. 105-106.
  • Nuclear power. Carbon sequestration at coal plants. Ethanol-from-corn. Other kinds of biofuels. Carbon cap-and-trading. Hybrid cars. Conventional electric cars. Air cars. Gas-turbine micropower. Efficient powerplants. Hydrogen economy. Hydro-power. Geothermal energy. Solar. Wind. Tides. Waves. Ocean thermal gradients.

    Which one(s) of these will solve our climate crisis and give us a large and lasting contribution to energy sustainability? The sobering answer to any truthful inquiry, I am sorry to say, is none of the above.

    • p. 129.
  • Between 2002 and 2006, I taught a course in the Masters program in Transformational Psychology at the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles. Part of the intent of the course was to embrace all four cultures of the Phoenix. The title of the course was Science, Ecology, Ethics and Consciousness. The attendance was low, but the students that did attend were among the most aware and sentient beings I have ever met. They began to understand how important all four cultures were for our future, and if we leave out any of these qualities and beliefs, or specialize too much in any one, we will box ourselves in.

    […] I believe that the world needs to come together in a blend from the four cultures of the Phoenix, but only the “Spiritualists” of consciousness scientists can provide lasting solutions. All other groups [Truth-Seekers, Deep Ecologists, and Pragmatists] simply do not have the awareness to get there, but they have an important role to play in presenting the depth of our problems.

    • pp. 217, 219.
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