Meet the Scientists – Space Ranch 2014

 Charlie Walker – Astronaut

For over 35 years, Charlie Walker has been involved in the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station programs, the Constellation space exploration program, and commercial space projects.

In the mid-1980s he flew aboard three early Space Shuttle missions as private industry’s first engineer and researcher in space, becoming the first commercial astronaut.  His work as a payload specialist astronaut on those missions included low-gravity purification of biomedical preparations and protein crystal growth research.

He is a licensed professional engineer holding an aeronautical and astronautical engineering degree from Purdue University, and an honorary doctorate of science from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy.




Geoff Notkin – Meteorite Hunter

By the age of seven, Geoff Notkin was already an avid rock hound and fossil collector. His father was an amateur astronomer and shared a love of stargazing. “I was stunned that you could actually see other worlds from a suburban London garden,” Geoff states: “The epiphany came when I visited London’s Geological Museum as a child. In the Hall of Meteorites I realized that studying meteorites would be the perfect combination of geology and astronomy. I have been hooked ever since.”

An award-winning author, Geoff has published more than 150 articles on meteoritics, paleontology, astronomy, adventure travel, history, and the arts. He is the author of the books Meteorite Hunting: How To Find Treasure From Space and Rock Star: Adventures Of A Meteorite Man, and a popular science and arts blog, The Logical Lizard, for He has appeared on many television science documentaries, including shows on Discovery Channel, NASA EDGE, TLC, PBS, A&E, National Geographic Channel, History Channel, Travel Channel, and the BBC.

Geoff has worked with most of the world’s major institutions including The American Museum of Natural History, New York; The Natural History Museum, London; and The Center for Meteorite Studies at ASU, Tempe. He is a science writer, meteorite specialist, photographer, world traveler, and the owner of Aerolite Meteorites LLC, a company that provides meteorite specimens to collectors and institutions worldwide.

Phil Plait – The Bad Astronomer

Phil will be your resident astronomer and host. An internationally sought-after speaker, he’s given talks across the country and the world, bringing his joy of science to the public. He is best known for his Bad Astronomy blog on, where he talks about new discoveries in science and uses his experience as a professional astronomer to describe the Universe. He’s written two books, Bad Astronomy, and Death from the Skies!, and has been on numerous television science documentaries, including his own show on Discovery Channel called “Phil Plait’s Bad Universe”. Every clear night at the ranch, Phil will bring out his telescope to show you amazing astronomical objects and describe what you’re viewing. We commonly see many meteors and human-made satellites as well, and Phil will bring this all together to give you a sense of your place in the Universe.

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