one of the world’s top "Space Visionaries" and one the top one
hundred most influential people in the space field by Space
News, Rick N. Tumlinson Co-Founded the Space Frontier
Foundation, called "pound for pound the most effective space
organization on Earth."
Among his other accomplishments,
Mr. Tumlinson signed up Dennis Tito - the world's first space
"tourist" (citizen space explorer) to fly to the International
Space Station, and led the team which took over the Russian Mir
Space Station as the world's first commercial space facility (as
featured in the film "Orphans of Apollo"). He was a founding
trustee of the XPrize and is credited with helping start what is
called the NewSpace revolution which has led to commercial space
projects such as Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk's
SpaceX and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origins rocket firms.
the years Rick has been a lead witness in six congressional
hearings on the future of NASA, the U.S. space program and space
tourism, including testifying before Senator John McCain and the
Senate Space and Technology Committee on the Moon, Mars and
From an old Texas family whose
pioneering credits include helping start the Texas Rangers and
fighting in the Alamo, Rick has spent his life fighting to open
the space frontier. Born in San Angelo, Texas, he son of an Air
Force Sergeant and his English wife. He was educated primarily
in England and Texas, attending boarding school at Lakenheath,
England and graduating from Athens High School in Athens, Texas.
After attending college at Stephen F. Austin University in
Nacogdoches, he lived in Dallas before moving to New York City.
There he worked for noted scientist Gerard K. O’Neill at the
Space Studies Institute, founded the New York L-5 Society, and
was a key player in starting the Lunar Prospector project which
discovered hints of water on the Moon. He also helped pass the
Space Settlement Act of 1988 and testified before President
Reagan’s National Commission on Space.
To support his activism in his
early years, Tumlinson produced the animated videos used to gain
funding for the Air Force’s DC-X rocket project, the
International Space University, the X-33 rocket program and the
Air Force’s Space Command. He also created the first ever paid
political announcement for space, which was featured on NPR’s
All Things Considered.
Not satisfied to just talk, write
about and help get funding for projects, Mr. Tumlinson has put
his time and money where his mouth is. He co-founded the firm
LunaCorp which produced the first ever TV commercial shot on the
International Space Station for Radio Shack.
was also Executive Director and co-Founder of the Foundation for
the International Non-Governmental Development of Space (FINDS),
a $25 million foundation which funded breakthrough projects and
activities such as Helium 3 research, laser launch studies, and
asteroid processing projects. The organization provided the
first $100k in seed money for the founding of the Mars Society,
operated the Cheap Access to Space Prize and supported such
projects as The Watch asteroid search program. FINDS also
underwrote and co-sponsored a very successful series of Senate
Roundtables on space issues. Rick founded the Permission to
Dream project, which has over the years placed dozens of
telescopes in the hands of schools and educational groups around
the world, from Sri Lanka to Iran and Russia.
A regular contributor to the
Huffington Post and the space industry paper Space News,
Tumlinson’s writings and quotes have appeared in the New York
Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald,
Washington Post, Reader’s Digest and dozens of other
publications. He has appeared on the front page of the New York
Times, has been featured in two issues of Popular Science and
around the world from Britain’s conservative Economist to the
People’s Daily in China. He has appeared on such television
programs as ABC’s World News Tonight, and Politically Incorrect
and appeared as an expert guest on the CBS Evening News with Dan
Rather, CNBC’s Open Exchange and is a frequent commentator on
CNN. Internationally he has appeared on TV sets from Russia to
China’s CCTV and the BBC.
In 2004 Rick was one of only 20
guests invited by the White House to hear President Bush
announce his plans to return to the Moon and explore Mars. Often
a public critic of the agency, last year he helped start NASA’s
prestigious Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, helping behind the
scenes to lay out the framework for the first human outpost on
the Moon and steps towards putting humans on Mars. He has also
been a consultant to the Heinlein Prize Organization, and his
book, Return to the Moon is available at your local bookstore.
In 2005 Mr. Tumlinson founded
Orbital Outfitters, which produced the world's first commercial
space suit in 2007 and is currently working on Project: Space
Diver, whose goal is to return people from space without
spacecraft for safety and to start the world's most extreme
sport, while working on his next book.
Mr. Tumlinson is known as one of
the best speakers in the field of space. His stirring and
freewheeling talks range from critiques and discussions of
current national space policy, to the presentation of a
"Frontier" ideology for opening space, to the how and why of
returning to the Moon, to a deeply spiritual discussion of our
place in the universe, the search for other life and the reasons
we are reaching for the stars.