HOUSTON, TX, February 20 (DSI PR) — Deep Space Industries announced that astronomer and asteroid expert Dr. John Lewis will assume the role of Chief Scientist for the firm, whose goal is the exploration, harvesting and processing of space resources, such as asteroids. Author of such seminal works in the field as the books “Rain of Iron and Ice” and “Mining the Sky,” Dr. Lewis is considered to be one of the the world’s pre-eminent asteroid experts.
“We are thrilled that John decided to join us in our quest to harvest space resources,” said Deep Space Chairman Rick Tumlinson. “He has been a hero and mentor of mine and the whole team. Having such a vote of confidence from the guy who literally wrote the books on the subject means a lot to us, our investors and potential customers, let alone the wisdom and knowledge he brings to the table.”
Dr. Lewis is Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, prior to which he taught space science and cosmochemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His university focus has been on the application of chemistry to planetary sciences and space development using resources such as asteroids.
“As we move forward, it is critical that we know all there is to know about asteroids, from their make up, to their orbits to the best way to mine them,” said Deep Space CEO David Gump. “Dr. Lewis knows where there are gaps in our knowledge, and what needs to be done to fill them. With him at the center, we are building a science team that immediately can guide the company in the most effective direction.”
Along with his close associates Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill and Dr. Freeman Dyson, Dr. Lewis was also among the first to propose the economic development of space using asteroids as sources of materials and propellent. His lab at the University of Arizona was a center for both theoretical and lab based studies of these concepts, and many of today’s top experts in the field were his students, including Tom Jones of Planetary Resources and Mark Sonter of Deep Space.
“I am excited to be part of the Deep Space team,” said Professor Lewis. “I have been waiting a long time for someone to step up to the challenge of opening space in ways that will lead to human industry and settlement, and I think these are the people who can make it happen.”
Dr. Lewis was among the first leading academic voices to recognize the importance of meteor impacts in Earth’s history and future, and worked with others such as Gene Shoemaker to bring the concept into the mainstream. With the recent events in Russia and the near miss of asteroid 2012 DA14 drawing global attention to the heavens, his joining Deep Space helps the company position itself in the area of planetary defense. DSI’s FireFly and DragonFly robotic probes, originally conceived for prospecting and mining, are now being offered as a means to reconnoiter and explore possible Earth-threatening objects as part of a program to identify and ameliorate them before they become dangerous.
“John was one of the first voices to warn us that we need to prepare for the inevitability of asteroids hitting the Earth, and the first to make the case that nearly the same actions we take to defend ourselves can also help us learn to mine these same objects for the betterment of humanity,” said Tumlinson. “Like Deep Space, he combines vision and practicality in his approach to space.”
Dr. Lewis will focus on strategic planning, mission development and processing concepts for Deep Space.