Louis D. FriedmanCo-Founder, The Planetary Society
Planetary Society Executive Director Emeritus
When Louis Friedman helped co-found The Planetary Society, he brought to his position as Executive Director a wealth of experience in the space exploration community, including 10 years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and five at AVCO Space Systems Division. He has been a guiding force with the Society for over 20 years and remains as excited as ever about humanity's journey into the solar system.
Friedman is a native New Yorker, raised in the Bronx and passionately committed to his hometown baseball team, the New York Yankees.
His college career began when Sputnik launched the space age. Friedman earned a B.S. in applied Mathematics and Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin in 1961, followed by an M.S. in Engineering Mechanics at Cornell University in 1963. He earned his Ph.D. from the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at M.I.T. in 1971 with a thesis on Extracting Scientific Information from Spacecraft Tracking Data.
From 1963-1968, Friedman worked at the AVCO Space Systems Division on both civilian and military space programs. The following decade, 1970-1980, found him at JPL, involved in planning deep space missions. His projects included Mariner-Venus-Mercury, the Grand Tour (Voyager), Venus Orbital Imaging Radar (Magellan), Halley Comet Rendezvous-Solar Sail, and the Mars Program.
In 1978-79, Friedman went to Washington, DC as the AIAA Congressional Fellow and worked on the staff of the subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He frequently returns to Washington, DC to testify to Congress regarding important issues concerning the space science community and the members of The Planetary Society.
Although the solar sail never launched for Halley's Comet, the concept of using light to propel a spacecraft intrigued Friedman so much that he wrote a book on the subject, Starsailing: Solar Sails and Interstellar Flight, and is now the Project Director for the solar sail mission created by The Planetary Society and Cosmos Studios: Cosmos I.