Committee Chairs

Les Johnson

Les Johnson / Long Range Planning

Les is a physicist, a science and science fiction author, and a NASA technologist.  His science fiction books include On to the Asteroid, Back to the Moon, Going Interstellar, and Rescue Mode (all for Baen) and popular science / non-fiction books such as Living Off the Land in Space, Solar Sails, Paradise Regained and Sky Alert: When Satellites Fail (Springer Books).  Les is the Technical Assistant for NASA’s Advanced Concepts Office at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama where he serves as the Principal Investigator for the Near Earth Asteroid Scout solar sail mission that will launch in 2018.

While at NASA, Les managed the Interstellar Propulsion Research Project, the In-Space Propulsion Technology Program, and the Science Programs & Projects Office.  He was the co-investigator on the T-Rex space tether experiment that flew in August 2010, the Principal Investigator for the ProSEDS space experiment, thrice received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal, and holds 3 space technology patents.

He was the technical consultant for the movies Lost in Space and Europa Report.  NPR, CNN, Fox News, The Science Channel and The Discovery Channel have all interviewed Les about space and space exploration.  He was the featured Interstellar Explorer in the January 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine.  He speaks regularly at science fiction conventions and has been a Science or Author Guest of Honor at MidSouthCon, LibertyCon, DeepSouthCon, Constellation, and others.  He is a frequent guest at DragonCon.

Les has numerous peer-reviewed journal publications and was published in Analog.  He is a member of the National Space Society, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, The British Interplanetary Society, The World Future Society, and MENSA.  He has a Master’s Degree in Physics from Vanderbilt University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics and Chemistry from Transylvania University.

You can learn more about Les by visiting his website: or by following him on Facebook ( or LinkedIn (

James Moore

James Moore / Risk Management, Development, and Capitalization

Mr. Moore has 32 years’ experience in design and analysis of advanced aerospace hardware. Mr. Moore’s technical expertise covers many aspects of rocket and spacecraft engineering disciplines. He has served as Project Engineer and Principal Investigator on various hardware development contracts and analysis efforts supporting R&D programs. Mr. Moore’s technical areas of expertise include; optical design and analysis, large lightweight space structures, membrane mechanics, thermal analysis and mechanical design for cryogenic turbomachinery.

Mr. Moore is active in several technical societies and has been selected for leadership roles. Specifically, he served as General Chair and Technical Chair for AIAA Spacecraft Structures Forum. Additionally, Mr. Moore has severed as the General Chair for SPIEs Polymer Optics Conference. He routinely serves these organizations in various technical leadership roles throughout the year. He has authored and co-authored 34 technical papers and a chapter in the AIAA Gossamer Spacecraft Design Textbook.

Martha Knowles

Martha Knowles / Scholarships

Martha Knowles was a professional librarian and records management specialist. She was administrator and Registrar for the first four TVIW symposia (2011, 2013, 2014, 2016) and was very involved in TVIW 5 in 2017.

In another time and place, she is active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, as well as several local science fiction conventions (such as LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN).  She lives in Oak Ridge, TN, with her husband and two cats.

Douglas Loss

Doug Loss / IT

Doug is originally from central Pennsylvania; he has worked in the IT field, principally in network administration and security, for the past 30 years.  He organized and ran an international internet organization called SEUL/edu, which fostered and promoted the development and use of Open Source software in schools around the world.  He handed operation of that organization off when its focus became less IT and more education (this change in focus was intended and encouraged from the beginning), as he wasn’t an educator.

From 1977 until the early 2000s he attended and eventually organized The Asimov Seminar, a yearly, four-day-long retreat at a conference center in upstate New York.  Isaac Asimov, the noted science fiction author, was the star of the Seminar and its main draw until his death in 1992.  Each year the Seminar would explore a different topic, always with some (sometimes vague) connection to science fiction. The topics were always approached interactively, with the Seminar attendees assuming roles that would allow them to examine the questions associated with that year’s topic on a personal basis.

Doug currently lives in Maryville, TN with his wife Ruby.  He’s been heard to say, “I live in the foothills of the Smokies; some days it’s all I can do just to decide to go to work.”

Joeseph Meaney

Joseph E. Meany, Ph.D. / Publicity

Although originally from Keene, NH, Joe started with TVIW in 2014 while still a graduate student at The University of Alabama. Since joining at TVIW 3, he has been active on the organizing committee for both TVIW 4 and 5.

While at UA, his research focused on the development and manufacture of conductive carbon-based molecules in electrical circuits, a quickly developing field within nanotechnology. In addition to academic publications, he has written articles for Baen Books with particular focus for nanotechnological applications in space.

Joe also travels to conferences and conventions as The Crimson Alkemist to inform and excite people about the promises and potential behind the latest discoveries in chemistry and material science. As he currently calls Atlanta, GA home, his favorite convention to present at is DragonCon over Labor Day weekend each year.

Paul Gilster

Paul Gilster / Publications

Paul Gilster is a full-time writer who focuses on space technology and its implications. He is one of the founders of the Tau Zero Foundation, an organization that grew out of work begun in NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics program and now supports research into advanced propulsion for interstellar missions. Gilster is the author of seven books, including Digital Literacy (John Wiley & Sons, 1997) and Centauri Dreams: Imagining and Planning for Interstellar Flight (Copernicus, 2004), a study of the technologies that may one day make it possible to send a probe to the nearest star. He tracks ongoing developments in interstellar research from propulsion to exoplanet studies on his Centauri Dreams Web site ( In past years, Gilster has contributed to numerous technology and business magazines, and has published essays, feature stories, reviews and fiction in a wide range of publications both in and out of the space and technology arena. He is a graduate of Grinnell College (IA)​ who performed graduate work in medieval literature at UNC-Chapel Hill before going into commercial aviation​ (flight instructor specializing in instrument and commercial training)​. He turned to full-time technology writing in 1985.