Having enjoyed an illustrious career that has cemented Colonel Ron Garan’s place as one of the world’s most influential individuals, the iconic father of three is a decorated NASA astronaut, fighter pilot and test pilot, a humanitarian, and a social entrepreneur. Ron was also the former Co-President of the commercial spaceflight company World View Inc.

As part of a select group of individuals who have been fortunate enough to see the world from space, Ron champions his “orbital perspective” message to improve life on earth. Ron is celebrated not just for his research in space but also for his humanitarian contribution to life on earth.

Ron has spent 178 days in space and has traveled more than 71 million miles during 2,842 orbits of our planet. He flew on both the US space shuttle and the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, where he accomplished four spacewalks. Ron also spent eighteen days at the bottom of the ocean during a research mission held in the world’s only undersea research lab, Aquarius.

Later, Ron was assigned to the US Agency for International Development, leading the Unity Node project. The project’s task was to develop a universal, open-source platform, enabling humanitarian organizations to work toward mutual goals. In 2007, Ron co-founded Manna Energy Limited. Created with the goal of leveraging the carbon market to finance humanitarian projects, Manna is the first organization in the world to register a United Nations Clean Development Mechanism carbon credit program for water treatment.

From representing Manna as one of ten global innovators in the field of water purification during the inaugural Launch Water Forum to his role as advisor to the social business movement, Ron continues to work toward a cleaner, safer, and more peaceful planet. Ron’s breakthrough book, The Orbital Perspective : Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles, is published by Berrett-Koehler. His two upcoming books are Floating in Darkness” and “Railroad to the Moon” which will be published in the coming months.


What is your background, where did you grow up?

I grew up in Yonkers, New York. I went the traditional Astronaut route. I was a F16 fighter pilot a test pilot and then a space shuttle pilot, and then joined the astronaut corps.


When did you first become interested in space?

July 20th, 1969


What do you think the biggest issue facing the industry today?

Getting to orbit. It is still too hard and too expensive. We need it to be safe, reliable, and affordable.


What do you like to do for fun?

Hike. Ski. Fly. Artistic projects, photography, filmmaking, painting, writing.


What is your favorite movie and why?

It’s a wonderful life. Because it illustrates how much one life touches others.

What are some of your favorite books?

Remembrance of the Earth’s Past Trilogy by Liu Cixin, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

What are you reading now?

New bottles for new wine by Julian Huxley
Drawdown by Paul Hawken
The Divide by Jason Hickel

Where do you see the space industry in ten years?

We will see a lot more people flying in space. It still won’t be like an airline but it will be much more common. I also think there will be the start of a permanent human presence on the Moon and we will see the basic cis-lunar infrastructure between the Earth and Moon develop, which will unlock human exploration of the rest of the solar system.

What would you tell people just starting out in the space industry?

Be patient and play the long game. Be wary of the new and shiny. Instead, look to build lasting infrastructure.


What three words best describe you?

Simply Purpose-driven.

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