The Association of Space Explorers is a non-profit organization with a membership composed of people who have completed at least one Earth orbit in space (above 100 km / 62 mi), as defined by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Founded in 1985, its current membership stands at over 400 from the following 38 countries: Afghanistan, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam. The organization provides a forum, the Planetary Congress, for the promotion of space exploration, as well as space science and engineering and environmental awareness from the unique perspective of astronauts/cosmonauts.
Russell L. "Rusty" Schweickart (b. 1935) is a scientist and former astronaut who served as the lunar module pilot for the Apollo 9 flight. Prior to his career as an astronaut, Schweickart was a research scientist at the Experimental Astronomy Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was also a fighter pilot in the U. S. Air Force and the Massachusetts Air National Guard from 1956 to 1963. Schweickart has also held various executive positions in business and in government including for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the State of California, and as chair of the United States Antarctic Program Safety Review Panel for the Director of the National Science Foundation. Schweickart is also a founder and past president of the Association of Space Explorers.