Our Team

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Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman

Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman is a professor at MIT’s Aeronautics and Astronautics Department and former astronaut. He received a BA in Astronomy (summa cum laude) from Amherst College (1966); a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Harvard University (1971); and an MSc in Materials Science from Rice University (1988). 

As a NASA astronaut (1978-1997) he made five space flights, becoming the first astronaut to log 1000 hours of flight time aboard the Space Shuttle. Dr. Hoffman was Payload Commander of STS-46, the first flight of the US-Italian Tethered Satellite System. He has performed four spacewalks, including the first unplanned, contingency spacewalk in NASA’s history (STS 51D; April 1985) and the initial repair/rescue mission for the Hubble Space Telescope (STS 61; December 1993). As the Astronaut Office representative for EVA, he helped develop and carry out tests of advanced high-pressure space suit designs and of new tools and procedures needed for the assembly of the International Space Station. 

Following his astronaut career, Dr. Hoffman spent four years as NASA’s European Representative, working at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. In August 2001, Dr. Hoffman joined the MIT faculty, where he teaches courses on space operations and space systems design. His primary research interests are in improving the technology of space suits and designing innovative space systems for human and robotic space exploration. Dr. Hoffman is director of the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium, responsible for space-related educational activities. He is Deputy Principal Investigator of an experiment on NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, which will for the first time produce oxygen from extraterrestrial material, a critical step in the future of human space exploration. In 2007, Dr. Hoffman was elected to the US Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Gregg Maryniak

Gregg Maryniak is the Co-Founder of the XPRIZE Foundation and its original Executive Director.  He is the Foundation’s Corporate Secretary and member of the Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees.

Maryniak is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He received Russia’s Tsiolkovsky Medal for his work on the energy and material resources of space and the Space Frontier Foundation’s Vision to Reality Award for starting the Lunar Prospector Team which discovered billions of tons of water ice and other frozen volatiles at the Moon’s North and South poles.   He has testified on energy and space technology before the United States Congress and the President’s National Commission on Space. 

He was Chief Executive Officer of the Space Studies Institute of Princeton, Senior Scientist of the Futron Corporation, Vice President of the St. Louis Science Center and Director of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium.  An Associate Founder of the International Space University, he served as a member of the Board and a Managing Director of the University as well as a department chair teaching such subjects as orbital mechanics, robotics and space resource utilization.  

He served on the Director’s Council of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is the Vice Chairman of the Lindbergh Foundation.  He currently co-chairs the Space and Energy tracks at Singularity University at NASA Ames Research Park in Mountain View, California.

His book, Fearless Experiments with Microcomputers, which introduces adults and youth to the exponential technology of microprocessors, was published in 2017.

Dan Curry, VES

Dan Curry is a veteran of over 100 feature films and 40 television productions.  His visual effects work on STAR TREK was honored with 7 Emmy Awards and 15 nominations.  Other awards include a Visual Effects Society Award for best broadcast VFX, an Omni Award, and three International Monitor Awards.  Dan also created the Klingon martial arts style and invented iconic bladed weapons.  Dan served as a visual effects department head at 21st Century Fox, Warner Bros, and Paramount Pictures.  He was Vice President, Director of Creative Services at Cinema Research Corporation, and Art Director at Modern Film Effects.  Dan has represented the Overview Institute at events in Spain and Las Vegas, and was also commencement speaker at three universities and has lectured at the invitation of the Malaysian government, as well as New Zealand, Europe, Thailand, and all over the US.  He also does presentations together with NASA scientists on the symbiotic relationship between science fiction and real science.  

Dan holds an MFA in Film and Theatre.  Prior to entering the film industry Dan taught Fine Arts, Film, and Theatre at the university level.  He is a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Community Development constructing small dams and bridges in rural Thailand.  Subsequently he directed a Thai language TV series for the Ministry of Education while serving as production designer for The Bangkok Opera, and doing freelance art and architecture projects.  Dan was the only non-Thai awarded a commission as production designer for the King’s Royal Charity Ball.   

Dan is a past Governor of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and is a member of the Directors Guild of America, American Society of Cinematographers, Producers Guild of America, Art Directors Guild, and is a past Board Member of the Visual Effects Society and was honored as a Visual Effects Society Fellow.

Dennis Wingo

Dennis Wingo has decades worth of experience in the computer and aerospace industries. He is Founder & CEO of Skycorp Inc, and Greentrail Energy Inc., Co-Founder & CTO of Orbital Recovery Inc.. Key areas of expertise include solar electric propulsion, satellite and spacecraft design, advanced mission planning, and lunar surface operational scenario development. He holds patents on space logistics systems (one licensed to Orbital ATK).

Wingo worked for many leading edge companies in the computer, artificial intelligence, and document management space during the 1980’s (e.g., Vector Graphic, Symbolics, and Alpharel. He led the development, construction, and testing of microgravity payloads for sounding rockets and the Space Shuttle at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, including the first MacIntosh flown on the Space Shuttle and SEDSAT-1, the first non-NASA spacecraft built in Alabama. Next, he led the design and development of the world’s first commercial satellite servicing system at Orbital Recovery. He also led the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) that restored and digitized the images of NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Program. Wingo is first in history to rescue and operate a spacecraft (ISEE-3) in interplanetary space.

Dr. David Schrunk

David G. Schrunk is an aerospace engineer and medical doctor with board certifications in the medical specialties of nuclear medicine and diagnostic radiology. Dr. Schrunk served two years in the United States Army as a flight surgeon / investigator at the US Army Aeromedical Research Unit and for one year as a flight surgeon / investigator with McDonnell Douglas Astronautics.

Following a four-year residency program at the University of Missouri, he became a partner in the Valley Radiology Medical Group in Escondido, California, where he practiced medicine for twenty years.  Upon retirement, he became actively involved in the space community and has authored numerous papers and presentations on scientific and legal topics related to the exploration and development of the Moon. 

He is the lead co-author of the book, “The Moon: Resources, Future Development, and Colonization,” published by Wiley-Praxis in 1999; a second edition was released in 2007.  In 1995, Dr. Schrunk founded the Science of Laws Institute, whose purpose is to expand science to encompass laws of government and the lawmaking process.  In 2005, he authored the book, “THE END OF CHAOS: Quality Laws and the Ascendancy of Democracy.” 

Dr. Schrunk is a member of the board of directors of the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), whose goal is to place telescopes and communication devices on the lunar surface.  His affiliations also include the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the Systems Engineering Society (INCOSE), the Kepler Space Institute (KSI), and the National Space Society (NSS). 

Eric Rosenthal

Eric Rosenthal is President of Creative Technology, LLC (CTech), a company specializing in new and advanced imaging technology consulting and development. CTech is currently working on a project to prototype a full-spectrum imaging sensor and display.   R&D on imaging technology leading to this current project has been sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), NSA, Naval Research Lab (NRL) and NASA. The full-spectrum imaging system is based on a novel Wave Theory of Human Vision. Several patent applications have been filed on the sensor, spectrometer and display designs.  Three patents have been awarded on a full-spectrum camera and display. 

Rosenthal was Vice President of Advanced Technology Research (ATR) at Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development, Inc. ATR had a team of staff and consultants that focused on identifying and evaluating technologies and solutions from research labs all over the world in an effort to keep Walt Disney’s business units at the cutting edge of new technologies.  In 1999, Mr. Rosenthal successfully completed the construction of Disney/ABC’s Times Square Studios at 1500 Broadway. His innovative design of the glass and camera systems is in daily use on ABC’s Good Morning America and other Disney/ABC Television programs.  Prior to joining WDI in 1992, Mr. Rosenthal worked as a technical consultant and project manager for NIKE R & D, and SONY Systems Integration Division. 

Rosenthal became known for his audio and video systems engineering accomplishments during his 26-year tenure with ABC Television in New York. As general manager of A/V systems engineering at the ABC TV network, he revamped and updated many of the ABC broadcast centers and studios across the United States. He supervised the design, engineering and installation of new facilities, providing them with state-of-the-art, computerized lighting, rigging, audio-video, routing switchers and distribution systems.  Mr. Rosenthal received an Emmy award for his work as technical project manager for the audio-video systems engineering of ABC’s coverage of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Mr. Rosenthal is an Adjunct Professor at New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) teaching master’s classes entitled “Digital Imaging:Reset” and “Basic Analog Circuits”. Mr. Rosenthal has been awarded 9 patents and has 3 patents pending.

Andrew Chaikin

Andrew Chaikin is a space historian and author with 40 years experience. He is best known as the author of A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts, which tells the stories of the Apollo missions through the eyes of the astronauts. The book was the main basis for Tom Hanks’ 12-part Emmy-winning miniseries for HBO, “From the Earth to the Moon.” A graduate in geology from Brown University, Chaikin has brought his knowledge of planetary science to his writing and teaching. As a visiting instructor at NASA he has taught the history of human and robotic space missions, as well as the human behavior aspects of success and failure in spaceflight projects. He lives in Vermont.  
 Website: www.andrewchaikin.com  

Philippe van Nedervelde – VR Architect / CTO

Van Nedervelde is a futurist and transhumanist writer, activist, and speaker. He advocates for space settlements to avoid human extinction.

Van Nedervelde was an early developer in virtual reality. He is the founder of virtual reality & 3D graphics studio E-spaces, patent-filing inventor of C-Thru, applying VR to security systems, and co-CEO of X3D Technologies, Inc., a virtual worlds production company co-founded and co-owned by Hollywood movie-director Michael Bay. Van Nedervelde directed E-spaces’ production of twelve online 3D training simulators for British Petroleum and the broader oil & gas industry to certify Well Lease Operators in the maintenance & troubleshooting of oil & gas wells surface equipment. He also developed virtual reality projects for the Munich Airport Center, Simsala Grimm, virtual Europe, and the transhumanist themed sculpture in Martine Rothblatt’s Teresem Island

Van Nedervelde was the Executive Director for Europe of the nanotechnology think-tank, the Foresight Institute from 1997 to 2014. Van Nedervelde also holds the position of Global Task Force member for the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. As Executive Director for Europe, Van Nedervelde interfaced with the media and represents the Institute at European Union events, including EU parliamentary hearings. He has spoken at various conferences including a working group on unconventional security threats, organized in Washington D.C. by the Strategic Assessments Group (SAG) of the US Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Intelligence. Van Nedervelde co-authored the Foresight Guidelines on Molecular Nanotechnology and was cited in Ray Kurzweil’s book The Singularity Is Near.

Van Nedervelde serves on the board of directors of the Lifeboat Foundation, an organization dedicated to reducing existential threats in the world. Van Nedervelde also serves as the International Spokesperson for the Foundation and represents the Foundation by fundraising, giving multimedia presentations, and addressing the media .

Ronald McCandless – Marketing Director

Ron McCandless is an experienced aerospace engineer and software project manager with a penchant for advancing technologies, including virtual reality. He started at NASA in hypersonic aerodynamics looking at reentry concepts using both wind tunnel testing and CFD and later moved on to supporting science payloads planned for the ISS before going into project management. Inspired by a visit in 2006 to the X Prize Cup at Las Cruces, New Mexico, Ron began an educational nonprofit that inspired high school students to look at payloads and technologies that could fly to the Moon on Google Lunar X Prize missions, including designing a game that simulates lunar operations. Through this, Ron began building his lunar mission industry connections that will benefit Virtual Moon today.

Ron is currently part of a joint venture called Giant Leap, a new space media and communications company that is teamed with an advanced communications company to bring near real time video and interesting events to everyone through social media, gaming, VR/AR/MR, and other means, in addition to marketing services under Giant Leap’s Mission Support as a Service offering. He has built extensive contacts in the New Space industry and, in particular, with lunar landing, mobility system, payload, and technology companies organizations, and educational institutions that he intends to bring to Virtual Moon to showcase their activities. 
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Manuel Pimenta – Founder and CEO

Manuel (Manny) Pimenta is an Electrical Engineer with a Computer Science Master’s degree. He has worked most of his professional life in the Electric Utility industry. He has also worked on airborne radar systems for a major defense contractor. He became involved in space advocacy in 2000. His primary interest is Space colonization and his focus is on establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon. He has been part of several space advocacy organizations: He has been Return To The Moon project manager at the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF), organized two Return To The Moon conferences for the SFF, and has served as Advocate Coordinator. He was a founding member of the Board of Directors for the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA). He was also a member of ProSpace and participated in 8 consecutive yearly “March Storm” congressional space lobbying drives in Washington DC. He served as Vice President of the New York City chapter of the National Space Society. In 2004 he founded Lunar Explorer and in 2006 released the world’s first fully immersive, interactive Virtual Reality simulation of the Moon, which was also called Lunar Explorer. He has given presentations at many space conferences, lectured at NYU, Princeton, and Rutgers University, participated in NASA workshops at NASA Ames and worked with the Smithsonian on researching and creating lists of Apollo objects left on the Moon. He founded Virtual Moon to create a new and massively updated version of the original Lunar Explorer VR simulation and take advantage of the new consumer level VR technology that we have today but that was not available when Lunar Explorer was originally created. His passion is to create the most accurate and realistic VR simulation of the Moon possible – an experience that is visually indistinguishable from actually being there – and make it available to every single person on Earth who wants to experience it.