Candidate Profile

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Astronomy & Space Science
Jonathan H. Ward, FRAS is an astronomer, author, speaker, and space historian. Jonathan’s joy of bringing the space program to life for the public began in high school, when he served as a tour guide at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum during the Apollo era. Today he is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a Solar System Ambassador for NASA, and a frequent speaker on astronomy and space exploration to diverse audiences ranging from school children to retirement communities to the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Jonathan’s three recent books about the US space program have met with universal critical acclaim. Jonathan enjoys telling stories of unsung heroes of space exploration—everyday individuals who rose to meet an inspiring challenge and accomplished extraordinary results. He is currently working with Eileen Collins--the first woman to pilot and command a space shuttle mission--on writing her autobiography.

Jonathan appreciates the incredible beauty of the worlds of our solar system and the limitless expanses of deep space. He is an accomplished astrophotographer and uses his images and star parties to help others learn about our place in the universe.

Jonathan’s love for embracing the most that life has to offer has led him to diverse experiences including flights on NASA’s zero-gravity “Vomit Comet” airplane, skydiving, singing as a baritone soloist on European concert tours, driving a lunar rover, and spending countless nights under the stars.

Jonathan was born in Japan and lived there twice as a child. His passion for experiencing different cultures led him to work in Saudi Arabia as an expat and to travel extensively.

Jonathan is also a Professional Certified Coach and on the adjunct staff at the Center for Creative Leadership.

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1. Adventures in Weightlessness and Microgravity
Jonathan Ward discusses what it’s like to experience the gravity of the Moon, Mars, or Earth orbit, using examples from the space program and his own ride on NASA’s infamous “Vomit Comet.”

2. NASA’s Glory Days: Behind the Scenes During the Apollo Program
Rarely seen scenes of life and work at Kennedy Space Center demystify how NASA was able to put a man on the Moon using 1960s technology.

3. Gemini: The Forgotten Missions
In two years, NASA’s ten Gemini missions took America from a distant second place in the space race to a commanding lead, perfecting the techniques and technologies to land a man on the Moon.

4. Skylab: America’s First Space Station
We’ll explore how, in 1973 and 1974, nine Americans spent 171 days on three missions aboard Skylab, a converted rocket stage that served as America’s first outpost on the frontiers of outer space.

5. Legends and Lessons of the Space Shuttle Program
More than 400 astronauts orbited Earth on NASA’s 135 Space Shuttle missions. Jonathan Ward will highlight some of their most incredible achievements and the risks they took to explore space, salvage failed equipment, build the International Space Station, and explore space.

6. Is Space Exploration Worth The Cost?
Space Historian Jonathan Ward examines the costs of the space program during Apollo and the Space Shuttle era in comparison to the direct and indirect benefits these programs returned to society.

7. Robots vs. Humans in Space: Is Human Spaceflight Worth the Risk and Cost?
Mankind has barely stepped off the Earth, yet we have sent probes to all reaches of the Solar System. As we intensify our exploration of Mars and other worlds, should we keep sending unmanned spacecraft, or should we send people?

8. Bringing Columbia Home: An Untold Story of Courage, Compassion, and Commitment
Learn how an unlikely coalition of 25,000 wildland firefighters, rural Texas volunteers, and NASA technicians recovered the remains of the Space Shuttle Columbia and her crew.

9. The Future of Manned Space Exploration: Moon, Mars, and Beyond
With the Space Shuttle era behind us, what’s next for NASA? This talk will explore plans for colonies on the Moon and Mars, and what it will take to make our dreams a reality.

10. Secrets of the Soviet Space Program
Jonathan Ward discusses how propaganda and misinformation deceived America – and the people of the Soviet Union – about the USSR’s accomplishments, failures, and plans for space exploration.

11. Space as the Cold War Battleground
From the launch of Sputnik I in 1957 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and continuing to this day, the East and West have battled for the moral and technical high ground in space.

12. Learning from Failure: How NASA Turned Setbacks into Victories
NASA suffered three fatal spaceflights and had a near miss with Apollo 13. This talk will examine the human and technical failures involved, what NASA learned from each accident, and how each one made future missions safer.

13. The Young Upstarts: Space-X, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin
After the Space Shuttle program was cancelled without a successor, NASA turned to the private sector to launch people into space on American rockets. We’ll explore the challenges NASA faces in encouraging private innovation while protecting astronauts and the public.

14. Losing The Night Sky
As more people move to urban areas, light pollution has deprived them of the ability to see more than a few stars. Jonathan Ward will demonstrate what we've lost over the years and discuss how we can help to reclaim the beauty of our night sky.

15. Photographing the Night Sky
One of the most rewarding—and frustrating—aspects of astronomy is taking photos of the Moon, planets, and deep space. Jonathan Ward will provide some pointers for budding astrophotographers and show how you can photograph the night sky with very modest equipment.

16. Getting Started in Astronomy
For people interested in astronomy, one of the most confusing issues is deciding what kind of telescope to buy. Jonathan Ward will provide pointers that will help demystify the process of figuring out how to explore the heavens from your backyard.

17. Finding Your Way Around Tonight’s Sky
Jonathan Ward will highlight the brightest stars and planets visible tonight, show how to find them, and provide pointers on simple tools that will help you learn your way around the sky.

18. Journey Through the Solar System
Where did our Sun and its planets come from? What do the worlds of our solar system look like? Where might we look for life? And what do these diverse worlds tell us about Earth and our place in the universe?

19. Where Did the Moon Come From?
Earth has a unique relationship with its Moon. We will explore the latest theories about where our natural satellite came from and why it’s important for us to go back to learn more about our origins, as well as to prepare for bolder steps into the solar system.

20. MESSENGER at Mercury: Exploring the First Planet
The MESSENGER mission orbited Mercury for four years. We’ll learn what this daring mission showed us about the planet nearest the Sun, and hear about plans for further exploration of this tiny, hot world.

21. Saturn: Indescribable Beauty and the Possibility of Life
The Cassini mission showed us the indescribably beauty of Saturn and its rings and moons. We will learn about the intricacies of the delicate ring system and the moons of Saturn that might harbor life.

22. Mars: The Only Planet Inhabited Entirely by Robots
From the first successful landing in 1976 and through the age of rovers, orbiters, and science stations, we’ll learn how Mars continues to amaze us as an active but possibly inhospitable world.

23. Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors: Sources of Life or Bringers of Destruction?
Earth was pummeled by comets and asteroids for millennia. We know that a giant impact killed the dinosaurs. But could ancient impacts have brought the building blocks of life to Earth? Jonathan Ward will explore the facts and myths of the threats posed by asteroids and comets, and will tell you how you can collect meteorites at your own home.

24. Jupiter: Earth’s Protective Big Brother
We’ll look at Jupiter, the largest planet, and discuss how it acts like Earth’s big brother, protecting us from bombardment by comets and asteroids that could have wiped out life on our planet many times over.

25. New Horizons: Revealing the Icy Worlds at the Edge of the Solar System
NASA’s New Horizons mission revealed a surprisingly active Pluto in 2015. Now it’s exploring other fascinating dwarf planets in the outer solar system, challenging our assumptions about what it’s possible billions of miles from the Sun.

26. Is E.T. Under Water? The Search for Life in the Solar System
Recent missions to Jupiter and Saturn have revealed ideal conditions for life under miles-thick ice sheets on some moons. Should we be looking for life under water rather than on a planet’s surface?

27. Galileo, Copernicus, and Kepler: The Giants of Astronomy
We will meet three people who forever changed our view of our place in the Universe and learn how they developed and promoted their ideas in the face of fierce opposition.

28. Navigating By the Stars
Before GPS, before LORAN, and before radio, how did people find their way around the open sea? We’ll examine the challenges and technology faced by ancient seafarers in navigating by the stars.

29. Is Anyone Out There?
If there is intelligent life among the billions of worlds in our galaxy, has it visited us before? Why haven’t they contacted us? Jonathan Ward will discuss the current search for extraterrestrials and explore possible explanations of why we haven’t heard from them yet.

30. The Fact and Fiction of Sci-Fi
Is warp drive possible? Will we ever be able to beam down from a spaceship? How about phasers? We’ll discuss how some far-out sci-fi devices from the 1960s and 1970s have become a reality, and examine the challenges of implementing other technologies suggested by our favorite sci-fi shows.

31. The History and Future of the Universe
Was there anything before the Big Bang? What happened after our universe was created? Are there other universes? What will become of us? We will examine how astronomers are attempting to answer some of the fundamental questions of existence in this stimulating discussion.

32. The Universe Revealed by the Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope went from being NASA’s biggest embarrassment in 1990 to one of its most popular missions. We’ll explore what Hubble has taught us about the universe and examine some of the iconic images that continue to awe and inspire us.

33. Astronomy at the Poles: The Midnight Sun and Auroras
The area between the Arctic Circle and the North Pole provides a unique place to experience skies that never darken in the summertime, or spectacular auroras in the darkness of the winter months. We'll talk about the unusual and spectacular phenomena you might witness on this voyage.
While I have not provided enrichment on a cruise, I am a frequent presenter on topics of space exploration as a NASA Solar System Ambassador to national and local conferences and club meetings, and I am a seasoned presenter and executive coach in leadership and personal development.
No additional information provided.