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Planetary Radio Episodes

For every week since 2002, Planetary Radio has visited with a scientist, engineer, project manager, advocate or writer who provides a unique perspective on the quest for knowledge about our solar system and beyond. We also showcase regular features that raise your space IQ while they put a smile on your face.

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Space Policy Edition: Why Apollo Happened (with Roger Launius)

July 05, 2019 • 2:03:54

Space historian Dr. Roger Launius joins the show to explain why Apollo happened the way it did, how a moonshot briefly became a solution to a national security problem, and why it is unlikely to happen again.

LightSail Takes Flight!

July 03, 2019 • 50:29

A giant SpaceX Falcon Heavy lifted off in the early hours of June 25th. One week later, the LightSail 2 solar sail was released to begin its epic mission. You’ll join the thrilling launch, meet LightSail team members and leaders of other missions, and get a solar sail update in this very special episode.

Flight by Light: A LightSail 2 Mission Preview

June 19, 2019 • 48:22

The day is almost here. With the launch of a Falcon Heavy rocket, The Planetary Society will begin its mission to prove that a tiny, orbiting spacecraft can be propelled by the light of the Sun.

The Triumph of a Failed Moon Landing

April 17, 2019 • 38:00

The Beresheet lunar lander failed in the last few kilometers of its descent to the Moon. Two days later we learned that its team would try again.

Space Policy Edition: T-minus Five Years and Counting

April 05, 2019

Can NASA return astronauts to the Moon by 2024? Vice President Mike Pence shocked the space community by announcing this ambitious new goal just weeks after the Trump Administration proposed a half-billion dollar cut to the space agency.

Bill Nye and Planetary Radio Live at Extreme STEAM

March 20, 2019 • 70:23

Planetary Radio Live goes on stage at the first ever Fairplex Extreme STEA2M Festival in Pomona, California. Host Mat Kaplan and Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye are joined by four young space scientists and engineers in front of hundreds of families.

SpaceX Builds a Big Falcon Rocket

September 26, 2018 • 40:54

A mostly SpaceX episode as the ambitious company provides updated details regarding its huge new rocket and introduces its first astronauts. Mat Kaplan shares more from the company’s headquarters, while Planetary Society Digital Editor explains and explores the BFR.

Space Policy Edition: Destination…Mars? Contradictions and Principles

August 03, 2018 • 60:02

The Senate just held a hearing on NASA's efforts to send humans to...Mars? A week later, the same committee advanced legislation to extend the life of the International Space Station to 2030, six years beyond the current end-date and two years beyond the current hardware safety ratings.

Looking Back, Looking Forward with the Planetary Society All-Stars

January 03, 2018 • 1:18:51

Mat’s first-ever four-way conversation with Jason Davis, Casey Dreier and Emily Lakdawalla reviews the biggest 2017 events in space exploration and provides their predictions of what to look for in the new year.

A Visitor From the Stars: ‘Oumuamua

December 06, 2017 • 47:23

The first confirmed interstellar visitor to our solar system is a needle-shaped asteroid given the Hawaiian name ‘Oumuamua. Karen Meech leads the team that is learning as much about it as possible before it leaves our neighborhood, never to return.

Space Policy Edition #19: When did the private space age begin? Much earlier than you think.

December 01, 2017 • 1:32:58

Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos. Richard Branson. These are the names we tend to associate with the current era of private space exploration. But what about John Quincy Adams, James Lick, or Charles Yerkes? Space economist and historian Dr. Alex MacDonald joins us to discuss his book, "The Long Space Age," which chronicles the history of private investment in U.S. space exploration all the way back to the 18th century. Jason and Casey also discuss the consequences of the House GOP tax plan, which could raise taxes on thousands of graduate students. Also, the coming budget showdown and possible consequences for NASA projects.

Bob Richards of Moon Express

November 29, 2017 • 58:22

Moon Express Founder and CEO Bob Richards shares an inspiring vision for a return to the Moon. It includes introduction of a sophisticated line of robotic spacecraft, the first of which may make a soft landing next year.

Thomas Edison, Eclipse Chaser!

June 21, 2017 • 1:02:38

Former NPR science reporter David Baron discusses the stories of men and women who made their way across the American West to view and document the total solar eclipse of 1878.

Human Spaceflight: Coming Back to America

May 24, 2017 • 47:39

Astronauts may soon ride on US rockets and in US spaceships for the first time since the last Space Shuttle flight. Jon Cowart of NASA is working with SpaceX toward the first launch of a Dragon spacecraft with humans on board.

Visiting Worlds Fantastic with Bonnie Buratti

May 10, 2017 • 56:09

Veteran Jet Propulsion Lab planetary scientist Bonnie Buratti talks with Mat about the wonder of our solar neighborhood that she explores in "Worlds Fantastic, Worlds Familiar—A Guided Tour of the Solar System."

Space Policy Edition #12 – Is Space Policy Stagnant? With Special Guest Marcia Smith

May 05, 2017 • 1:27:25

Moon or Mars? Should NASA depend on private companies? What’s the goal of human spaceflight? These questions were debated three decades ago, yet are just as relevant today. Does that mean space policy is stagnant?

Aerospace Corporation President and CEO Steve Isakowitz

April 12, 2017 • 58:09

The Aerospace Corporation has been innovating since 1960. Now it’s headed by a former leader of “New Space” company Virgin Galactic. President and CEO Steve Isakowitz talks about the evolving culture of the space industry.

Mars’ Atmosphere…Lost in Space!

April 05, 2017 • 33:17

Mars was once a warm and wet world. Then its dense, protective atmosphere mostly vanished. Learning why was one of the greatest mysteries in planetary science. The answer has just been delivered by the MAVEN orbiter.

Hope for Pluto—Should We Re-Redefine Planets?

March 08, 2017 • 33:51

Planetary geologist Kirby Runyon is lead author of an abstract that proposes a new, geophysical definition of what a planet is.

Space Policy Edition #10 - Special Guest Laura Delgado Lopez, SpaceX to the Moon, looming budget cuts

March 03, 2017 • 1:19:25

Laura Delgado Lopez from the Harris Corporation joins us to talk about the growing number of countries getting into the space business, particularly in Latin America. Casey, Jason, and Mat also take stock of SpaceX's plans to send humans around the Moon in 2018, and how the newly-announced Trump budget cuts could hurt NASA.

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