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. The full show archive is available for free.

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NASA Administrator James Bridenstine Returns

The U.S. space agency’s leader describes how NASA is responding to the pandemic crisis as it works to keep projects and missions on track.

Exploring Venus, Earth's Mysterious Sister Planet

Astrophysicist Javier Peralta, a team member on Japan's Akatsuki mission, takes us deep into Venus's thick, fast-moving clouds.

Space Policy Edition: Why Apollo Ended (with John Logsdon)

As NASA struggles to return humans to the Moon by 2024, it's worth asking: why did it stop in the first place? Space historian John Logsdon joins the show to discuss the politics behind the decision to abandon the Moon in 1972. Casey and Mat also discuss the proposal to offer a $2 billion prize for sending humans back to the Moon and establishing a base there, and why that's not good public policy.

Reflections of Humanity in a Spacesuit for Moonwalkers

Host Mat Kaplan in a long and fascinating conversation with Nicholas de Monchaux, author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo. This great book is about much more than creation of the suits that allowed humans to walk and work on the Moon. Jason Davis shares pointers on looking for LightSail 2 overhead, while Bruce Betts provides a solar sail update in this week’s What’s Up. And you might win a Planetary Radio t-shirt!

Space Policy Edition: The Home Front During Apollo (with Emily Margolis)

Did the public support Project Apollo? Dr. Emily Margolis joins the show to explore the domestic politics and cultural impact of the space age throughout the 1960s. Despite the success of the lunar landings, there was more opposition to Apollo than we generally remember.

A Political History of Apollo Episode 5 - A Gift or a Curse?

In the final episode, producer Mat Kaplan joins Casey to reflect on the lessons and legacy of Apollo. Was it a burden on the space program or a gift for future generations? What can we take away from this single data point of humans walking on another world? And what should we be wary of?

A Political History of Apollo Episode 4 - Why It Ended

After more than a decade's worth of work and billions of dollars spent, the United States could send humans to the surface of the Moon whenever it wanted. But after landing only six times, the country just walked away, closing down production lines, laying off tens of thousands of workers, and committing humans to low-Earth orbit seemingly indefinitely. Why did it end? And was this inevitable?

Apollo 11 and the Woman Who Helped Get It Home

Poppy Northcutt was a pioneer—the first woman to work as an engineer in Apollo Mission Control. The program she helped to create got the astronauts back to Earth. Fifty years later, she sits down with Mat Kaplan for a look back.

A Political History of Apollo Episode 3 - The Home Front

In 1964, 40% of the public did not approve of Project Apollo, and more than 50% did not think the moon shot was "worth the cost" throughout the 1960s. Kennedy himself questioned the commitment and considered cooperating—instead of competing—with the Soviet Union in space. At the same time, there was an explosion of space-related pop culture and citizen engagement with the space race. Dr. Emily Margolis, whose dissertation was titled Space Travel at 1G: Space Tourism in Cold War America, joins the show to explore the complicated politics of the home front during Project Apollo.

A Political History of Apollo Episode 2 - The Soviet Moonshot

The Soviet space program launched the first artificial satellite, the first man, and the first woman into space. Soviet cosmonauts performed the first spacewalk and piloted the first two-person spacecraft. But it was the United States that placed the first humans on the surface of the Moon. What happened? Dr. Asif Siddiqi, author of Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race (PDF Download), helps answer that question.

A Political History of Apollo Episode 1 - Why It Happened

When President Kennedy announced Project Apollo, the United States was locked in a global ideological conflict with the Soviet Union. But how did the idea of a Moon shot come to be the answer to a political problem? And why did it happen when it did? Dr. Roger Launius, former Chief Historian of NASA and currently the Principal at Launius Historical Services, explains why Apollo happened and where it came from. His latest book, Apollo's Legacy: Perspectives on the Moon Landings is available now.

Boosters, Breakthroughs and Budgets: Canada and the US Look Toward Space

The last few days have seen developments that will shape the space exploration plans of Canada and the USA. The Planetary Society’s Kate Howells is a member of Canada’s Space Advisory Board. She reviews the nation’s new space policy.

Space Policy Edition: When a (Space) Cowboy Came to Washington

Historian John Logsdon discusses his new book, Ronald Reagan and the Space Frontier It explores the legacy of the 40th president’s major space policy decisions. We look at four major topics: early efforts at commercializing space, the survival crisis for planetary exploration, the Space Shuttle, and the decision to build the space station.

Earthrise! Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 8

This is the 50th anniversary of the most audacious space mission in history. Apollo 8 blazed a path for the first moon landing seven months later, and gave a troubled nation reason for hope and pride.

At the Space Settlement Summit With Former NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden

He led NASA for eight years, but not till he had flown on four Space Shuttle missions and enjoyed a long military career. Charlie Bolden talks with Mat about his time at the space agency and where we’re headed on the final frontier.

Moon Mission 3D from Queen Guitarist Brian May and David Eicher

You haven’t seen the best pictures from the Apollo era and other great space achievements till you’ve seen them in 3D. Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May is also mad about stereoscopic imagery.

Space Policy Edition: How NASA Came to Be

Happy 60th, NASA. In celebration of the space agency’s birthday, we do the audio equivalent of pulling out NASA’s baby book and explore its origin story.

John Logsdon and the Dawn of the Space Age

The Dean of space policy, John Logsdon, returns with stories and a new book of original documents that shaped the US space program from the birth of NASA to SpaceX. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye reports in from this year’s International Astronautical Congress in German, while Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla wraps up a working tour of New Zealand. Then join Bruce and Mat for this week’s What’s Up.

Big Science, Big Rocket at the Marshall Space Flight Center

Mat Kaplan’s Huntsville, Alabama trip wraps up with a tour of the historic and history-making Marshall Space Flight Center. Join him at the control center for research underway on the International Space Station, under a tent where a critical component of the Space Launch System rocket is getting finishing touches, in a conversation about the Fermi spacecraft’s search for the universe’s biggest explosions, and with the Center’s Associate Director for Technical efforts.

A Big Test for LightSail 2

The Planetary Society’s solar sail spacecraft was in the middle of a critical test as we spoke with the Society’s Bruce Betts and Jason Davis.

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