Ronnie M. Lajoie
Chair, NSS Membership Committee
Ronnie Lajoie proves that it pays to hold on to your dreams. Growing up a kid on welfare, watching episodes of Lost in Space, fuzzy videos of men bouncing on the Moon, and later reruns of Star Trek, he could only hope and dream that someday he would be part of the space program. Throughout grade school, college, and even early professional employment, there were many more telling him to give up his dreams of flying in space — let alone living there someday — than there were providing encouragement.
All that changed in May 1991, when Ronnie flew 2000 miles on a whim and a prayer to attend the 1991 International Space Development Conference (ISDC). There, he met hundreds of people who not only shared his dream, but were also living it! (Thank you Carol and Joe Redfield!) Ronnie joined NSS right there at ISDC and has been an increasingly active member ever since. He quickly learned that the democratic NSS and its inclusive chapter system provides an excellent training ground to turn a space acolyte into a space leader.
Mr. Lajoie moved to Huntsville, Alabama in 1991 and joined its local chapter, the Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5) in 1992. He helped make a success of their 1993 ISDC, and since 1992 (except 2009-10) served as an HAL5 Officer in various roles (Secretary, Vice-President, and later Treasurer). He also served as Editor of HAL5’s newsletter (1995-2000) and developed the first HAL5 Web site. He is also a member of HAL5’s rockoon Project HALO team. In 1995, Ronnie Lajoie received the HAL5 Professional of the Year Award.
While continuing to support HAL5 and grow new chapter leaders, Ronnie moved up to the NSS national level in 1995 when he accepted a two-year post as Chairman of the NSS Chapters’ Assembly (he was reelected for a second term in 1997). During his two terms, he conducted several chapter surveys and led a reshaping of the Chapters’ Assembly into an organization to help chapters help each other to survive and thrive.
In 1997, Mr. Lajoie was elected to the NSS Board of Advisors. As an Advisor, he participated in two NSS Strategic Planning workshops plus an NSS Policy Summit, where he helped draft the NSS Statement of Philosophy, and helped define the NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement. After his second term expired on the bottom-up NSS Chapters’ Assembly, Ronnie became an active member of the top-down Chapters Committee, where he helped to raise money for new NSS signs and banners. He also volunteered to maintain and enhance the Chapter Database, an Excel file that he is working to convert into an online database nicknamed NODAC. One of the many interim products is a partially automated chapter directory on the NSS Web site.
Ronnie joined the NSS top leadership in 2000, when he was elected to a four year term on the NSS Board of Directors. In addition to his fiduciary duties as a Director, including being a Buzz Aldrin Council level donor, Mr. Lajoie also served on the Public Affairs Committee (to promote and further develop the NSS Roadmap) and on the Policy Committee. He also served an interim term as NSS Secretary.
In 2004, Ronnie chaired his first regional conference, on Exploring and Privateering Space. Also in 2004, Mr. Lajoie was assigned to an ad-hoc NSS Governance Committee to review the state of the NSS organization and make recommendations for improvement. One key recommendation that was acted upon was the creation of the NSS Corporate Policies document, which codified and improved upon many existing but poorly documented NSS policies and practices, and which established a clear chain of command for NSS operations.
Although reelected to another four year term on the NSS Board of Directors, Ronnie resigned in 2005 so that he could focus on NSS operations, joining a dedicated team of top activists ready to build on the framework provided by the new NSS Corporate Policies document. In 2005, Ronnie Lajoie was awarded the highest honor NSS can bestow on a volunteer, the Christopher Pancratz Space Activist of the Year Award. Also, starting in 2005, Ronnie has become a regular participant in the annual “Legislative Space Blitz” of the NSS-formed Space Exploration Alliance (SEA) to meet with members of Congress about space-related budgets and legislation.
From 2005 to 2006, Mr. Lajoie served as the initial Chair of the new Internet Services Committee (ISC), and helped to define its relationship with the equally new Web Oversight Committee (WOC). He also served as a member of the Membership Committee, where he found common ground with the ISC and his NODAC Project, creating online forms for joining, renewing, or giving an NSS membership. Ronnie has since served as the Acting Chair of the ISC and is working with the WOC to bring the NSS Web site into the 21st century.
Ronnie rejoined the NSS top leadership in 2014, when he was elected to a two year term on the NSS Board of Directors (Region 5). In 2015, Mr. Lajoie was elected for another two year term as NSS Vice President for Membership.
While not yet flying or living in space, thanks to the National Space Society, Ronnie is a lot closer to fulfilling his dreams. He also now has the leadership skills to help other NSS volunteers and space acolytes become space leaders in their own right. If you are not yet an NSS member, then Join Now. If you are, but not yet active, then join or start an NSS chapter, or join an NSS committee. Ad Astra!
(NSS does not yet pay the rent however…)
For pay, and often for fun and/or experience, Mr. Lajoie works as an aerospace systems engineer with over 30 years in the aerospace industry working a variety of space and missile programs. His space systems engineering and flight mechanics analysis skills have been applied to numerous efforts including the DARPA Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, and the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) program, the NASA Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) and its Ares launch vehicle programs, the NASA Space Launch Initiative (SLI) and other Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) efforts, and various Affordable In-Space Transportation studies.
Mr. Lajoie is also Secretary/Treasurer and Chief Engineer of the High Altitude Research Corporation (HARC), a small for-profit startup that budded off the non-profit efforts of HAL5’s Project HALO. As an engineer for HARC, Ronnie performed flight mechanics analysis for a Balloon-Launch Return Vehicle (BLRV) SBIR contract (1998), and for a 18-foot-long rockoon designed to send a 2-kg payload to 200-kilometers to vie for the Cheap Access to Space (CATS) Prize (2000).
Mr. Lajoie earned his Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Boston University, and his Master’s degree in Space Systems Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and the Order of the Engineer.
In addition to the NSS, Mr. Lajoie is also a proud member of the AIAA and The Planetary Society; and in 2009 became a life member of the Mars Society. He was also the founding President of the Boston University chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).