Smithsonian Journeys Experts
Roger D. Launius is former Associate Director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. He has also been a senior curator and Division Chair in Space History at NASM. Between 1990 and 2002 he served as chief historian of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A graduate of Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, he received his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in 1982. He has written or edited more than thirty books on aerospace history, most recently since 2010: Historical Analogs for the Stimulation of Space Commerce (NASA SP-2014-4554, 2014); Space Shuttle Legacy: How We Did It and What We Learned (AIAA, 2013); Exploring the Solar System: The History and Science of Planetary Probes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); Coming Home: Reentry and Recovery from Space (NASA SP -2011-593, 2012), which received the AIAA’s history manuscript prize; and Globalizing Polar Science: Reconsidering the International Polar and Geophysical Years (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Academy of Astronautics, and the American Astronautical Society, and associate fellow of the AIAA. He also served as a consultant to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board in 2003 and presented the prestigious Harmon Memorial Lecture on the history of national security space policy at the United States Air Force Academy in 2006. He is frequently consulted by the electronic and print media for his views on space issues, and has been a guest commentator on National Public Radio and all the major television network news programs.