“The Dean of Space Policy”

John M. Logsdon

John Lodges

Historian, Speaker, Professor, Author

– Preeminent historian of John Kennedy’s decision to enter the Race to the Moon
– Founder of the George Washington University Space Policy Institute
– Former member of Columbia Accident Investigation Board and NASA Advisory Council
– Holder of Charles Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
– Author of award-winning John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon and After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program with new books soon to be released

John uses his vast knowledge of the space program and its history to inform and engage audiences about spaceflight past, present, and future.

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Dr. Logsdon is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Prior to his leaving active faculty status in June 2008, he was on the faculty of the George Washington University for 38 years; before that he taught at the Catholic University of America for four years. He was the founder in 1987 and long-time Director of GW’s Space Policy Institute. From 1983-2001, he was also Director of the School’s Center for International Science and Technology Policy. He is also a faculty member of the International Space University. During the 2007-2008 academic year, he was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at MIT’s Science, Technology and Society Program on a part-time basis. During 2008-2009, he held the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. He holds a B.S. in Physics from Xavier University (1960) and a Ph.D. in Political Science from New York University (1970).

Dr. Logsdon’s research interests focus on the policy and historical aspects of U.S. and international space activities. His book John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon was published in December 2010. The book was named the 2011 winner of the Gardner Lasser Aerospace History Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and co-winner of Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award of the American Astronautical Society. His most recent book, After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program, was published in March 2015. It was selected as the 2017 recipient of the AIAA Gardner-Lasser award. Logsdon is currently working on an account of space decisions during the Reagan administration, to be titled Ronald Regan and the Space Frontier; that study will be published in early 2019. He is also editor of the forthcoming (September 2018) Penguin Classics compilation The Penguin History of Outer Space Exploration.

Dr. Logsdon is also the author of The Decision to Go to the Moon: Project Apollo and the National Interest (1970) and is general editor of the multi-volume series Exploring the Unknown: Selected Documents in the History of the U.S. Civil Space Program. He has written numerous articles and reports on space policy and history, and authored the basic article on “space exploration” for the most recent edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. Dr. Logsdon has lectured and spoken to a wide variety of audiences at professional meetings, colleges and universities, international conferences, and other settings, and has testified before Congress on several occasions. He has served as a consultant to many public and private organizations. He is frequently consulted by the electronic and print media for his views on space issues and has appeared as an expert on all major television networks and public radio.

In 2003 Dr. Logsdon served as a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. He was a member of the NASA Advisory Council from 1998-2001 and 2005-2009. He is a recipient of the Exceptional Public Service, Distinguished Public Service, and Public Service Medals from NASA, the 2005 John F. Kennedy Astronautics Award from the American Astronautical Society, the 2006 Barry Goldwater Space Educator Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the 2013 Frank Malina Space Educator Award from the International Astronautical Federation. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Astronautical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Planetary Society. He is on the editorial board of the international journal Space Policy and was its North American editor from 1985-2000. He is also on the editorial boards of the journals New Space and Astropolitics.

Dr. Logsdon has served as a member of a blue-ribbon international committee evaluating Japan’s National Space Development Agency and of the Committee on Human Space Exploration of the Space Studies Board, National Research Council. He has served on the advisory committee of the Secure World Foundation, the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee on the Department of Transportation, the Vice President’s Space Policy Advisory Board, the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Research Council, NASA’s Space and Earth Sciences Advisory Committee, and the Research Advisory Committee of the National Air and Space Museum. He has served as the Director of the District of Columbia Space Grant Consortium.  He is former Chairman of the Committee on Science and Public Policy of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Education Committee of the International Astronautical Federation. He has twice been a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and, in 1982-1983 was the first holder of the Chair in Space History of the National Air and Space Museum.


Recent Talks Include

Related to Kennedy and the Decision to Go to the Moon
John F. Kennedy, Project Apollo, and the 21st Century Space Program
January 31, 2018 at Space Center Houston

John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon
California Institute of Technology, April 2013

Kennedy, Nixon, and the American Space Program
At International Space University, Haifa, Israel, July 2016

Did Project Apollo Require Inventions?
Smithsonian Lemelson Center, June 2012

After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program
Baker Institute, Rice University, April 2015

Other Possible Speaking Topics

Once Humans Went to the Moon. Will They Return? 
The Trump administration has set a return to the Moon with the United States leading a public-private and international partnership as its first goal for human spaceflight. There have been two prior attempts to have the Umnited States once again send humans to the Moon since the end of Project Apollo in 1972. Will this third try succeed?

Was Building the Space Shuttle a Mistake?
This lecture will start by building on material from my book, After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program, which recounts the contentious decision process that led Nixon to approve developing the Space Shuttle which, Nixon said, “would revolutionize space travel by routinizing it.” It will also incorporate material from my most recent book, Ronald Reagan and the Space Frontier, discussing how the Reagan administration set the policy framework for space shuttle operations both before and after the Challenger accident. The lecture will assess both the achievements of the Shuttle in its thirty years of operation and compare those achievements both against the promises made as the Shuttle was approved and the impact on the space program overall of making the Shuttle its central focus. It will discuss the two Shuttle accidents, in 1986 and 2003; I was a member of the 2003 Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

Are We on Our Way to Mars?
The idea of human travel to long-standing a long-standing vision in fiction and fact. There have in the United States been several proposals over the past fifty years to make a human Mars mission the focus of space exploration, and that goal remains the long-term objective of current U.S. government human spaceflight, with the first missions sometime in the 2030s. In addition, there have been several private sector proposals to mount Martian missions. But there are many technical, financial, and political obstacles to be overcome before such missions become reality. This lecture will assess the prospects for humans reaching Mars in the 21st century.

Billionaires and Space
One of the major developments in space activity in recent years is the rapidly increasing involvement of the private sector. While there are many small entrepreneurial space ventures seeking a foothold in the space business, most attention has been given to the engagement of billionaires such as Elon Musk (SpaceX), Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), Paul Allen (Stratolaunch), and Robert Bigelow (Bigelow Aerospace). This lecture will discuss the prospects for outer space becoming a focus for a variety of profit-making activities, from carrying tourists on space cruises to extracting valuable resources from asteroids or the Moon.

A New Space Race?
In addition to the entry of private sector actors into the space sector, a rapidly increasing number of national governments or regional alliances such as the European Space Agency are developing comprehensive space capabilities. China in 2003 became the third country, after Russia and the United States, to be able to lift humans into orbit; it plans to build its own space station in the early 2020s and many think Chinese mission to the Moon will follow soon after. Japan and Europe have ambitious space program, India has sent a robotic mission to Mars and is soon to test a crew-carrying spacecraft, and even the United Arab Emirates is planning an early mission to Mars. The lecture will discuss whether all these activities will result in space become a crowded and competitive arena of activity, or whether there can be cooperation in major space undertakings and agreement on “rules of the road” to govern that activity.


John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon (2010)

“A comprehensive and insightful retrospect of the conception and early days of Project Apollo.” – Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11

“Logsdon’s book is a high quality scholarly work, deeply researched but still an easy read.” – Bill Anders, Apollo 8

“A masterful case study of presidential decision making” – Professor Steven Wayne, Georgetown University

“An extraordinary book . . . How President Kennedy reached his fateful decision to enter the space race to reach the Moon is now told fully in an insightful and authoritative way.” – Von Hardesty, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Winner, 2011 Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Award, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and 2012 Eugene Emme Astronautical Literature Award, American Astronautical Society

After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program

“From me comes only praise, multi-faceted praise.” – Michael Collins, Apollo 11

“Every President since has followed the Nixon space policy, yet we study it far less than Kennedy’s If you want to understand what happened then – and how it is still affecting us 40 years later – read this book. Study it. Learn from the past to change the future.” – Wayne Hale, space shuttle program manager

“Expertly researched, wonderfully written, very readable…Essential reading for everyone concerned with the course of space exploration.” – Professor Howard McCurdy, American University.

Winner, 2017 Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Award, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics


The Penguin History of Outer Space ExplorationSeptember 2018

Ronald Reagan and the Space Frontier – Spring 2019

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