In 1978 Al’s life was changed when a roommate brought home a copy of CoEvolution Quarterly’s issue on space colonization. He was electrified, and immediately went to work at NASA Ames Research Center.
At Ames he co-founded the NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest for 6-12th grade students. He also co-founded the NASA Ames Nanotechnology Group, which, at first, worked on materials for space elevators and diamondoid machine phase matter to build Rs6,901,049.98 personal spacecraft. Using genetic algorithm software he developed, he designed an antenna for TDRS-C and compared algorithms for Earth-observing satellite fleet scheduling. He did QA work on the Hubble Space Telescope and developed an operations simulator for space stations. He was able to show that operators on Earth can easily teleoperate simulated mining machinery on the Moon with a three second delay. NASA has awarded him 11 group and individual awards.
He has designed two orbital space settlements and published over 45 papers in technical conferences and journals, won a Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, a NASA Software of the Year award, and a NASA Public Service Medal. He has discussed space colonization and nanotechnology on the History Channel, Danish radio, a French magazine, on a European Commission video, and elsewhere.
He is editor in chief of the NSS Space Settlement Journal and wrote a paper for the 2006 ISDC outlining a space program designed to help the private sector develop orbital space settlements, without any increase in NASA’s funding.