Planetary Adventures with Dr. Louis Friedman



As Executive Director of The Planetary Society for 30 years, Louis Friedman made more than 50 trips to the former Soviet Union pursuing cooperation in space exploration.

Among his adventures were hot air ballooning, testing Mars Balloon concepts, climbing volcanoes in Kamchatka, testing Mars rover prototypes, observing a launch of the Society’s solar sail payload on a Russian Navy ship in the Barents Sea, and traveling to the formerly secret city of Chelyabinsk with Edward Teller to pursue the possibilities of planetary defense from Near-Earth Asteroids. These activities led to both technical progress in planetary exploration and political progress in restoring planetary exploration as a priority in the United States. It also led to the success of The Planetary Society — with Mars exploration, and with the conduct of the first American solar sail mission.

Louis Friedman recounts all these experiences and more in his book Planetary Adventures: From Moscow to Mars.

Dr. Louis Friedman is a prominent figure in the space exploration community. As co-founder of The Planetary Society, with Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray, he brought a wealth of experience gained at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and AVCO Space Systems Division. Friedman dedicated over 30 years to The Planetary Society, serving as the Executive Director, guiding its mission and fostering humanity’s journey into the solar system. His exceptional academic achievements include a B.S. in applied Mathematics and Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin, an M.S. in Engineering Mechanics from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from M.I.T. Dr. Friedman is a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics, a national fellow of the Explorers Club, and was co-leader of the Asteroid Redirect Mission program for the Keck Institute for Space Studies at Caltech. He is the author of four books including Planetary Adventures: From Moscow to Mars, and his most recent book Alone But Not Lonely: Exploring for Extraterrestrial Life. 

This program was organized by Phoebe Piper #1244.