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Dispatch from John Lewis: News from the world of the retired


Professor John Lewis retired from LPL in 2010. From the update he recently shared with us, however, it seems he is busier than ever!

John LewisAlthough I am nominally Emeritus, I am not exactly living life in an intellectual backwater. I do about one University speaking gig per month. The subject of space resources is very hot right now, as all the media stories about the Keck Institute asteroid retrieval mission and the "coming out party" of Planetary Resources Co. attest. I have been guest of honor (chief relic) on display at two international symposia devoted to my book, "Mining the Sky" at Vrije Universitet Amsterdam and Kyoto University. I haven't noticed anything in LPL mail about Planetary Resources, but there's a lot to be proud of there. The President is LPL's own [UA alumnus, former UA Space Grant student and president of UA SEDS] Chris Lewicki, and his advisors include [LPL alumni] Mark Sykes and Tom Jones. The company is based upon ideas set forth in "Mining the Sky," so of course I'm in the loop too. This is about the sixth such venture I've been involved with, including one involving Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker, Jeff Kargel, Larry Soderblum, and the two Original Lewises, that we put together just before Gene was killed, but this is the first and only one to have strong financial backing (meaning investment from Google top mangement). Lewicki, Jones, and I are all involved in the Keck Institute asteroid retrieval proposal team, aiming at moving a 500 to 1000-tonne NEA into a safe orbit around the Moon and opening it as an international research park. On the family front, fecundity is still the rule. Our six kids have now generated 32 grandchildren, of whom three are recently married (you can see where this is going).

We get one or two "scorchers" each year, when the mercury climbs to almost 80 degrees. We have extensive gardens and a large and ever-expanding family of Muscovy ducks to keep the snails ands slugs under control. Of course we also have winters: it snows here about as often as it does in Tucson. We live in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, so we get about 1/3 the rainfall of Seattle or Vancouver. Then there are the orcas, bald eagles, harbor seals, gray whales, and tourists to watch. Our home is about a mile from the ferry terminal that serves Victoria, BC, and Bouchard Gardens, both on the must-see list. [I recently made] my 6th trip to China covering the Shenzhou manned spacecraft series and the Chang'e lunar probes. I expect two more visits in the next 12 months, the Shenzhou 10 space station visit and the Chang'e 3 lunar lander and rover. It all take me back to the heady days of the 1960s, when everything was a first and events moved rapidly. "Hardly a man is now alive/ who remembers that fateful day and year."

FALL 2012

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