History often accords to a selected individual the role of catalyst, the spark who creates a social, political, or economic paradigm shift. Surely Gerry O'Neill was such an individual.
Dr. O'Neill was an accomplished experimental physicist, successful entrepreneur, pilot, inventor, astronaut candidate, devoted family member, and gifted professor who constantly challenged and inspired his students.
Indeed, it was a class exercise -- first year physics at Princeton University -- which started Dr. O'Neill on a path that would ultimately lead him to establish the modern conceptual, theoretical, and technical foundation for the large-scale human colonization of space.
During the course of this work he wrote several books, including the award-winning The High Frontier; served as an adviser to NASA and the Congress and as a member of the President's National Commission on Space; and founded the Space Studies Institute (Princeton) to support the scientific research required to carry out his vision.
Today, Gerry O'Neill's legacy continues through his Space Studies Institute and through the lives of people around the world who were touched by his message — and who consequently are devoting their lives to the extension of humanity into space.
"...I think there is reason to hope that the opening of a new, high frontier will challenge the best that is in us, that the new lands waiting to be built in space will give us new freedom to search for better governments, social systems, and ways of life, and that our children may thereby find a world richer in opportunity by our efforts during the decades ahead."
--G.K. O'Neill, The High Frontier, 1976
"(Gerry's) brilliance, his reason, his drive, and his creativity each garnered his well-deserved renown. But I respected him most, and will remember him best, for his commitment to fairness and equity."
--Richard J. Pinto , May 1992
"Gerry O'Neill was a man of great vision, courage, and intelligence - a type too often in short supply in this world. His dramatic and inspiring descriptions of future space colonies challenged us to confront the gap (often maddeningly wide) between technical capacity and political will. Through his research, business pursuits and educational programs, he did much to sustain our vision of a bold, space-faring future."
--Kathryn D. Sullivan, May 1992