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 and Chinese space programs. He had a 22-year career as a space engineer in NASA specializing in orbital rendezvous. Oberg is an author of ten books and more than a thousand articles on space flight. He gave many explanations of UFO phenomena in the popular press. He is also a consultant in spaceflight operations and safety.
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 has often been called to testify before the US Congress on the Russian space program.
In 1997 he voluntarily resigned from NASA and started a full-time free-lance career. Currently he works as a consultant in spaceflight operations and safety and as a space journalist.
Author and journalist
As a journalist, Oberg writes for several publications, mostly online; he was previously a space correspondent or commentator for UPI, ABC News 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 television 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 its Nova television science series, a three-part miniseries titled "The Russian Right Stuff," which aired in February 1991.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 a United States astronaut; the United States Air Force officially recognized Lawrence in January 1997, six years after Oberg had begun his campaign.
In 1999, Oberg wrote Space Power Theory, sponsored by United States military 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. "In Oberg's view, space is not an extension of air warfare but is unique in itself."
James Oberg is an author of ten books in addition to several technical NASA publications.
One of the photos taken during a simulation used by conspiracy theorists
Oberg was commissioned by NASA to write a rebuttal of ApolloMoon landing conspiracy theories. However, NASA dropped the project after ABC's World News Tonight program ran a story about it, claiming it was beneath NASA's dignity to respond to Moon landing denialists claims. Oberg has said that he still intends to pursue the project, "depending on successfully arranging new funding sources."
Oberg writes that Moon landing conspiracy theories are fueled by resentment of American culture by some countries. He gives the example of Cuba, where he claims many school teachers say the landing was a fraud. But besides this, the new wave of conspiracy theorists appear to use alternative publication methods to publicize their claims.
Oberg says that belief in the conspiracy is not the fault of the hoaxists, but rather of educators and people (including NASA) who should provide information to the public. NASA does not, in Oberg's opinion, provide an adequate reaction to the theorists' claims.
North Korean satellite launch inspection
In April 2012 Oberg traveled to North Korea as an NBC space consultant to observe the launching of the Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 satellite and determine whether it is a military launch. Together with a team of journalists he inspected the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, the Unha rocket and the satellite. According to Oberg, North Korea "showed everything but the important things" and did not manage to demonstrate peaceful intent.
James Oberg often writes about alleged UFO sightings, giving scientific explanations to seemingly extraterrestrial phenomena, or otherwise debunking them as hoaxes.
Oberg categorized UFO sightings (excluding those identified as hoaxes) into one of three groups:
Super-High Plumes – rocket or missile plumes, especially lit by the Sun on a dark sky;
Space "Dandruff" – ice flakes, fragments of insulation, etc. flying alongside a space vehicle, especially seen by backward-facing cameras;
Twilight Shadowing – objects that move from shadow into sunlight in space appear as if coming from behind the clouds or from beyond the edge of the Earth.
List of UFO explanations
February 20, 1962
John Glenn in the Mercury capsule saw three objects following and then overtaking the capsule
James Oberg wrote several articles as a publicity campaign to remove guns from the ISS. The TP-82 Cosmonaut survival pistol was stowed in the Soyuz emergency landing survival kit and was added there for hunting and self-defense after landing in inhospitable environment. It had three barrels and a folding stock that doubled as a shovel and contained a machete. The gun was only carried by Russian members of the ISS. Oberg suggested that it might be an invitation to a future disaster and proposed it to be put in a compartment accessible only from outside, after landing.
In 2014 Oberg asked Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian ISS astronaut, about the pistol and she admitted the gun is removed from the list, or more precisely, it is still on the official list of kit contents, but the committee meets before every mission to review the list and vote to remove the pistol for the specific flight.
Oberg has been married since 1969 and lives with his wife Alcestis in Dickinson, Texas. He has two grown sons (born 1977 and 1984).
Space Shuttle Mission Control Center: Overview of Information and Decision Flows (for McDonnell Douglas);
Rendezvous and Proximity Operations Handbook;
History of Orbital Rendezvous;
Flight Data File: Crew Procedures, STS-32 LDEF Retrieval;
Console Handbook, Rendezvous Guidance and Procedures Officer;
Training Guide, Rendezvous Guidance and Procedures Handbook
^Oberg, James (April 1994). "Soviet Saucers". Omni. General Media, Inc. Archived from the original on February 7, 2009. Retrieved June 23, 2009.
^Sterling, Bruce. "Catscan 14: 'Memories of the Space Age'". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Archived from the original on 2009-10-04. 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). Catscan archive homepage here. Archived 2009-10-04 at the Wayback Machine
^ abcdefghijklOberg, James. "U.S./Russian Aerospace Consultancies". JamesOberg.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-31. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
^ abcdefgOberg, James. "Profile". JamesOberg.com. Archived from the original on 2016-05-05. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
^ abcdefgOberg, James. "Journalism". JamesOberg.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-31. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
^ abcOberg, James. "Aerospace Career Specialities". JamesOberg.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-31. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
^"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.
^ abOberg, James. "FAQ". JamesOberg.com. Archived from the original on 2016-05-05. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
^"NOVA : Past Television Programs : Season 18: January–December 1991 : PBS". PBS Online. Boston, MA: WGBH. Archived from the original on October 1, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
^ abGubert, 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.
^ abcHandberg, Roger (2000). Seeking New World Vistas: The Militarization of Space. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0-275-96295-1.
^ abOberg, James. "Books – NASA". JamesOberg.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-28. Retrieved 2016-08-03.
^Whitehouse, David (November 8, 2002). "Nasa pulls Moon hoax book". BBC News. London. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
^Oberg, James (July 1999). "Getting Apollo 11 Right". ABC News. New York: ABC. Archived from the original on April 2, 2003. Retrieved August 13, 2009. I'm told that this is official dogma still taught in schools in Cuba, plus wherever else Cuban teachers have been sent (such as Sandinista Nicaragua and Angola).
^Oberg, James (2012-04-27). "What we learned from North Korea's rocket no-show". NBC News. Archived from the original on 2016-09-28. Retrieved 2016-08-25.