Rusty Schweickart was a NASA astronaut from 1963 through 1977. He flew on Apollo 9 as the lunar module pilot and was the first to step outside a spacecraft without a life support umbilical connection. He also served as commander of the backup crew for the first Skylab mission. Subsequent to his NASA career, Schweickart served in California government as assistant to the governor for science and technology and as chairman of the California Energy Commission from 1979 to 1983. Schweickart founded the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), the professional international organization of astronauts and cosmonauts, in 1985. He held executive positions in the space and communications industry from 1990 until his retirement in 1999.
Schweickart is a founder and chairman of the board of the B612 Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to protecting the future of humankind by developing and demonstrating the capability to deflect asteroids from earth impact. He currently serves as chairman of the ASE Committee on Near-Earth Objects which is working with and through the United Nations to develop a treaty on near-earth object deflection.