James Oberg

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James Oberg
Born James Edward Oberg
(1944-11-07) November 7, 1944 (age 77)
New York City, United States
Education Ohio Wesleyan University, B.A. Mathematics, 1966;
Northwestern University, M.S. Applied Mathematics (Astrodynamics), 1969;
University of New Mexico, M.S. Computer Science, 1972
Occupation Journalist, author
Website www.jamesoberg.com

James Edward Oberg (born November 7, 1944), often known as Jim Oberg, is an American space journalist and historian, regarded as an expert on the Russian space program.[1][2]

Life and career

Born in New York City, Oberg received a B.A. in Mathematics from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1966, a M.S. in Applied Mathematics (Astrodynamics) from Northwestern University in 1969 and a M.S. in Computer Science from University of New Mexico in 1972.

After service in the United States Air Force, he joined NASA in 1975, where he worked until 1997 at Johnson Space Center on the Space Shuttle program. He worked in the Mission Control Center for several Space Shuttle missions from STS-1 on, specialising in orbital rendezvous techniques. This culminated in planning the orbit for the STS-88 mission, the first International Space Station (ISS) assembly flight.

During the 1990s, he was involved in NASA studies of the Soviet space program, with particular emphasis on safety aspects; these had often been covered up or downplayed, and with the advent of the ISS and the Shuttle–Mir programs, NASA was keen to study them as much as possible. He privately published several books on the Soviet (and later Russian) programs, and became one of the few Western specialists on Russian space history. He speaks English, French, and Russian. He has often been called to testify before the US Congress on the Russian space program.[3]

In 1999, Oberg authored Space Power Theory, sponsored by United States military[4] as a part of an official campaign in changing perceptions of space warfare, specifically deployment and use of weapons in outer space, and its political implications.[4] "In Oberg's view, space is not an extension of air warfare but is unique in itself."[4]

As a journalist, Oberg writes for several regular publications, mostly online; he was previously space correspondent for UPI, ABC and currently MSNBC, often in an on-air role. He is a Fellow of the skeptical organization CSICOP and a consultant to its magazine Skeptical Inquirer. In December 1990, Horizon, a British television science and philosophy documentary program, aired a three-part series, "Red Star in Orbit," based on Oberg's book of the same name. WGBH Boston adapted the Horizon series for their Nova television science series, a three-part miniseries titled "The Russian Right Stuff," which aired in February 1991.[5] HBO has optioned Red Star in Orbit for a future production. Also in 1991, Oberg launched a battle for official recognition of Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. (1935–1967) as an United States astronaut;[6] the United States Air Force officially recognized Lawrence in January 1997, six years after Oberg had begun his campaign.[6]

Oberg was commissioned by NASA to write a rebuttal of Apollo Moon landing conspiracy theories. NASA later dropped the project; Oberg has said that he still intends to pursue it.[7]


  • Oberg, James (1981). New Earths: Restructuring Earth and Other Planets. Foreword by Jack Williamson. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-452-00623-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (1981). Red Star in Orbit. Foreword by Tom Wolfe. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-51429-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (1982). Mission to Mars: Plans and Concepts for the First Manned Landing. Foreword by G. Harry Stine. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-81170-432-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (1982). UFO's and Outer Space Mysteries: A Sympathetic Skeptic's Report. Norfolk, VA: Donning Company Publishers. ISBN 978-0-89865-102-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (1984). The New Race for Space: The U.S. and Russia Leap to the Challenge for Unlimited Rewards. Foreword by Ben Bova. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-2177-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • ——; Oberg, Alcestis R. (1986). Pioneering Space: Living on the Next Frontier. Foreword by Isaac Asimov. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-048039-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (1988). Uncovering Soviet Disasters: Exploring the Limits of Glasnost. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-56095-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • ——; Sullivan, Brian R. (1999). Space Power Theory. Introductions by Colin S. Gray and Howell M. Estes III. Colorado Springs, CO: US Air Force Academy. OCLC 41145918.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (2001). Star-Crossed Orbits: Inside the U.S.-Russian Space Alliance. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07137-425-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>



  1. Oberg, James (April 1994). "Soviet Saucers". Omni. General Media, Inc. Retrieved June 23, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Sterling, Bruce. "Catscan 14: 'Memories of the Space Age'". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Oberg is a recognized Soviet Space expert, sometime NOVA host on PBS, special consultant to the Sotheby's auction house for Soviet space memorabilia, and the author of the definitive tome RED STAR IN ORBIT (Random House 1981).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Catscan archive homepage here.
  3. "Testimony of James Oberg". In Space Today. Houston Space Society. October 7, 1998. Archived from the original on May 5, 1999. Retrieved May 10, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Handberg, Roger (2000). Seeking New World Vistas: The Militarization of Space. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0-275-96295-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "NOVA : Past Television Programs : Season 18: January - December 1991 : PBS". PBS Online. Boston, MA: WGBH. Retrieved May 12, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gubert, Betty Kaplan; Sawyer, Miriam; Fannin, Caroline M. (2001). Distinguished African Americans in Aviation and Space Science. Westport, CT: Oryx Press. ISBN 978-1-57356-246-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. James, Oberg (March–April 2003). "Lessons of the 'Fake Moon Flight' Myth". Skeptical Inquirer. Amherst, NY: Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. 27.2: 23, 30. Retrieved May 10, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links