John Fabian, a former astronaut known in Jefferson County as a leader in a down-to-earth battle over a gravel mine project, has been named as a distinguished member of the Association of Space …
John Fabian, a former astronaut known in Jefferson County as a leader in a down-to-earth battle over a gravel mine project, has been named as a distinguished member of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) at the association's recent meeting in Malaysia.
Fabian is the third astronaut or cosmonaut to be so honored.
“It’s an honor to be recognized like that,” Fabian said in a Nov. 5 phone conversation from Florida, where he had been hoping to see the last flight of the space shuttle Discovery. He was disappointed that the shuttle was grounded by a fuel leak until later this month and that he would miss the event.
Fabian flew twice in a space shuttle, once in 1983 in the Challenger and then in 1985 in the Discovery.
Fabian lamented the direction in which space exploration is headed. While the United States is not investing in space, the Russians and Chinese are, and the space program also is moving toward privatization.
“We’ll be sending people up on other people’s launch vehicles,” Fabian said.
“I still believe the moon and Mars are out there as targets for NASA,” he said. As for going to Mars, “I used to think it was going to happen in my lifetime, and I’m not so sure anymore.”
Fabian served for 14 years as international copresident of the ASE and two years as president of its U.S. chapter. He cohosted the VIII ASE Planetary Congress in Washington, D.C., and currently serves on the ASE-USA board of directors.
The ASE's distinguished member award recognizes individuals who have significantly contributed to the mission, goals and objectives of the ASE, according to a press release from the organization.
Other conferees are Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov and Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, founding members of ASE.
ASE-USA executive director Andy Turnage said by email that Fabian has been in a leadership position for years.
“He has always guided the organization with an eye toward what was right, even though not necessarily always popular,” Turnage said. “I have always looked to John for a final reality check on any given issue, because of his ability to extract the signal from the noise and ask the questions nobody else thinks to ask.”
Founded in 1985, ASE is an international nonprofit professional and educational organization of more than 375 individuals from 35 nations who have flown in space. ASE’s mission is to provide a forum for dialogue among individuals who have flown in space; support space science and exploration for the benefit of all; promote education in science, technology, engineering and math; foster greater environmental awareness; and encourage international cooperation in the human exploration of space.
Environmental awareness is responsible for leading Fabian in his work with the Hood Canal Coalition, a nonprofit grassroots organization opposing a gravel project on Hood Canal now called the Thorndyke Resource project.
Proposed by Fred Hill Materials, which has filed for Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the company wants to build a four-mile conveyor to connect a gravel pit at Shine to a 990-foot pier on Hood Canal five miles south of the Hood Canal Bridge.
“They haven’t given up, and we haven’t stopped fighting them,” Fabian said of the project.
Fabian and the coalition also were recently awarded the Warren G. Magnuson Puget Sound Legacy Award by People for Puget Sound.