Space flight historian David J. Shayler, FBIS (Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society - or as Dave likes to call it, Future Briton In Space) was born in England in 1955. He recalls the school memorial service on Monday 30 January 1967 for the three Apollo 1 astronauts lost in the pad fire at Cape Kennedy the previous Friday (27 January), and the TV transmissions from Apollo 7 in October 1968. His life-long interest in space exploration began by drawing rockets at the age of five, but it was not until the launch of Apollo 8 to the Moon in December 1968 that his interest in human space flight became a passion. His interest in the Soviet programme was kindled by a secondary school teacher who spoke and taught Russian (though not in Dave's school) and brought copies of Soviet newspapers proclaiming the historic flights and achievements of Soyuz 4 and 5 in January 1969. In the summer of 1969, whiile on holiday at his grandparents' in Devon, Dave stayed up all night with his grandfather on July 20/21 to watch the TV broadcast of the first moonwalk by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Dave's first articles were published by the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) in the late 1970s and in 1982 he created Astro(naut) Info(rmation) Service (AIS; www.astroinfoservice.co.uk) to focus his research efforts. His first book was published in 1987 and he now has over 30 titles to his name, including works on the American and Russian space programmes and topics such as spacewalking, women in space and the human exploration of Mars.
In 1989, Dave applied as a cosmonaut candidate for the UK Project Juno programme with the Soviet Union (now Russia). The mission was to spend seven days in space aboard the space station Mir. Dave did not reach the final selection but progressed further than he expected. The mission was flown by Helen Sharman in May 1991. In support of his research, Dave has visited NASA in the United States and the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia, where visits to space training facilities and handling real space hardware helped to provide valuable insights into the activities of a space explorer and the realities of flying and living in space.
Work by Dave has continued and expanded and has included:
In October 1999, Dave gave up his 'normal' career to devote all his time to Astro Info Service, developing AIS products and services, researching new books and articles and continuing to present the science of humans in space to children of all ages through the AIS programme of fun and informative presentations.
Dave has been a friend to many former and current astronauts and cosmonauts, some of whom have accompanied his on visits to schools across the UK. Dave's space presentations and workshops to children and social groups developed over 40 years into a three-tier project of presentations, mini and full-day workshops to help the younger generation develop an interest in science and technology and the world around them. In the 2010s, Dave stepped back from full-time outreach activities to concentrate on his writing projects.
Dave is also a member of the Space Sleuths Group, a global group of like-minded individuals loosely formed in the 1950s/1960s, with a shared interest iin the hidden history and operations of the Soviet and, more recently, Chinese space programmes. Noted American researcher and historian Asif Siddiqi observed that there had been three generations of 'space sleuths'; the original group from the 1950s and 1960s, the second in the 1970s and 1980s and the third from the 1990s. Dave was recognised as belonging to the third generation.
Today, Dave lives in the West Midlands and enjoys spending time with his new female German Shepherd, called Silva, the current company mascot, as well as listening to classical music and indulging in his love of cooking and fine wine.
The Primary Back-up Crew: All in the Family
Mike: An experienced and talented editor and artist, Mike has been associated with AIS editorial work since the early 1990s and is a co-author on several book titles. He is the original AIS website creator/manager and has edited over 20 titles for multiple authors in the Praxis range. You can see his artwork at his website, www.scruffmonkeyart.co.uk.
Jean Shayler [Mom]: Mom has supported AIS activities in the background for decades, helping out at trade shows, school presentations and workshops. She continues to provide administrative support and encouragement.
Derek Shayler [Dad; 1927-2002]: Dad supported AIS logistical requirements for many years and helped out at various shows, working on the AIS stand.
Bel Shayler [Dave's wife; 1952-2022]: AIS Director, office and administrative manager, Bel supported Dave's research needs, especially in audio typing for Dave's many interviews, as well as first contact with customers. She provided support at many school presentations, trade shows and lectures and was the AIS website manager for many years.
Ruth Shayler [Mike's wife; 1958-2020]: Ruth also provided administrative assistance and supported school and trade show events, as well as audio typing of Dave's interviews.
Karen Carnell [Shayler; Dave & Mike's sister]: Karen has provided administrative support, including online research during the early years of the Internet. She continues to offer assistance where required.
ASTRO DOGS - The Company Mascots
Silva [b. 2022]
... and not forgetting Laddie [b. 1974]