Les is the author or co-author of multiple popular science and science fiction books. By day, Les is the Technical Adviser for NASA's Advanced Concepts Office and the Solar Sail Principal Investigator for the Near Earth Asteroid Scout mission at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
He was the featured Interstellar Explorer in the January 2013 issue of National Geographic Magazine in their issue "celebrating 125 years of exploration" and was featured on Public Radio's Science Friday.
Les frequently speaks to the general public about space and science. He regularly speaks to civic and community groups throughout the southeastern United States and has done so in public forums in four countries. One student at the Tec de Monterey in Monterey, Mexico told him that he was "bigger than a rock star." (Now that's something a physicist does not hear very often!) He was the technical consultant for the movies Europa Report and Lost in Space. NPR, CNN, Fox News, The Science Channel and The Discovery Channel have all interviewed him about space and space exploration. He appeared on the Discovery Science Channel in three episodes of their series about interplanetary and interstellar exploration called Exodus Earth, National Geographic Channel's series How to Survive the End of the World and Evacuate Earth.
Les is a frequent guest at various science fiction conventions at which he speaks about space, popular science, and, of course, his books. LibertyCon (400 attendees), MidSouthCon (500+ attendees), and DragonCon (20,000 attendees or more) are three conventions at which he is a regular guest speaker. And no, he does not wear pointy ears...
Les was NASA's Manager for Interstellar Propulsion Research and later managed the In-Space Propulsion Technology Project. He has worked for NASA since 1990 and has served in various technical and management roles.Les was the co-investigator on a Japanese space experiment flown in late 2010. He was the Chief Scientist for the ProSEDS space experiment, thrice received NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal, and holds 3 space technology patents.
He earned his Master's degree at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN and his Bachelor's Degree from Transylvania University in Lexington, KY. He has numerous peer-reviewed publications and was published in Analog. He is a frequent contributor to the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and a member of the National Space Society, The World Future Society, and MENSA.