By BBC World Service

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Stories, opinion and debate from the final frontier – including a guide on how to live in space, 20th century legends and the stories of missions past and present.

Episode Date
Astronaut Dreams
A singing spaceman, a refugee who wants to beat gravity and a cosmonaut stuck in orbit. Three amazing stories from Outlook. Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield spent five months living on the International Space Station and won an online audience of millions with his tweets about daily life and his music recordings. Nujeen Mustafa was born with cerebral palsy, and for most of the first 16 years of her life had barely left her home in the Syrian city of Aleppo. She now lives in Germany and dreams about becoming an astronaut. Cosmonaut Abdul Ahad Mohmand is the only Afghan to have gone into space. It was 1988, in the last days of Russia's hold on Afghanistan, and Abdul went to visit the Mir space station with a Russian commander. But their attempts to return to earth didn't go according to plan.
Feb 17, 2018
How Do We Rule The Universe?
Governing moon miners, asteroid hunters and space junk sounds pretty tricky, but we better get our act together. This year the majority of space launches included commercial enterprises. Space is no longer just the playground of governments but companies; companies that want to mine the moon for water that they could sell as rocket fuel, companies that want to mine the moon for helium -3 which could be sold and used as energy back on earth and companies that want to mine asteroids for platinum that they could sell for huge profits. But is this legal?
Jan 11, 2018
The First Woman on the Moon
If history had been kinder, aviator Wally Funk might have become the first woman on the Moon. In the early 1960s, she was one of 13 female pilots who passed the same physical tests as the Mercury 7 astronauts. Unfortunately her chance never came and no one has walked on the Moon since 1972, after the cancellation of the Apollo space programme. But today, space agencies and commercial companies around the world are preparing to return to the lunar surface and Wally meets the scientists and entrepreneurs trying to make this a reality.
Nov 20, 2017
Cassini's Last Adventure
After 20 years in space, NASA’s Cassini-Huygens mission is coming to an end. But it will go out with one big bang. Launched in 1997 on a billion-mile trek to Saturn, Cassini has transformed our knowledge of the planet, its rings and more than sixty moons. The spacecraft has discovered plumes of water on the moon Enceladus and the European Huygens lander has snapped images of Titan’s surface, revealing riverbeds, lakes and mountains carved by liquid methane. Both moons are possible candidates for life, maybe better candidates than Mars. Cassini’s fuel light is flashing red and so to protect the moons from accidental contamination, a dramatic ‘grand finale’ has been planned. On 15 September 2017, Cassini will dive into the toxic clouds of Saturn, burning up to become a part of the gas giant itself. The data the spacecraft collects, as it descends to its death, will give new insights into Saturn’s atmosphere and many scientists are even looking forward to its demise. In Cassini’s Last Adventure, space scientist Professor Lucie Green celebrates the spacecraft’s achievements and discovers how it has changed our views on where to find life elsewhere in the Universe. Photo: One of the images of Saturn's rings, sent back by the Cassini spacecraft Credit: NASA/JPL
Aug 22, 2017
Space 1977
Voyager 1 and 2: Still operating after 40 years in the depths of space. Voyager 1 is currently some 20 billion kilometres from Earth travelling at 15.5 kilometres a second. It takes 19 hours for a signal from the spacecraft's 20 watt transmitter to reach home. Voyager 2 is 17 billion kilometres away and will soon leave the Solar System. Launched in 1977, the twin spacecrafts have explored the giant planets and their strange moons, investigated the boundary of the Solar System and changed how we see our place in the Universe. The probes even carry a message for aliens in the form of a golden record. Retired NASA astronaut Ron Garan meets many of the original team still working on the mission, nursing the twin spacecraft through their final years. Photo: The Voyager 2 spacecraft passes by Saturn in 1981 Credit: NASA
Aug 20, 2017
Is There Anybody Out There?
Extra-terrestrials or other signs of life - is there anybody beyond planet Earth? Are we alone in space? It wasn’t until the late 1960s that humans started an organised, systematic hunt for intelligent life. We have listened to radio waves, peered through the celestial dust and beamed The Beatles to distant planets. So how’s it going? Is there anybody out there? This is the story of the search for extra-terrestrial life. Presenter: Helena Merriman (Photo: The ALMA, an international partnership project between Europe, North America and East Asia, with the cooperation of Chile. Credit to Getty)
Jan 15, 2017
Caravans in Space
The plans to set up human colonies in space and spaceships that will take us to the stars. Richard Hollingham travels to the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee to meet scientists, engineers, doctors and anthropologists who are working on it. These are not dreamers - although they all have an ambitious dream - but well qualified experts. Several work at Nasa, others have day jobs at universities and research institutes. Richard hears of proposals to build giant space stations and worldships - vessels packed with the best of humanity. These caravans in space might be lifeboats to escape an approaching asteroid or perhaps the first step to colonising the galaxy. With contributions from Technical Adviser to Nasa's Advanced Concepts Office Les Johnson, Director of the Space Engineering Centre at the University of Arizona John Lewis, architect Rachel Armstrong and anthropologist Cameron Smith. This programme first aired in November 2016.
Jan 14, 2017
We Shall Fly - Part Two
The official space agencies and programmes on the continent of Africa. Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock visits Nigeria, her father's birthplace, and asks why African nations are apparently so keen to journey into the future as a space-going continent. She finds people there are excited about space exploration and discovers her roots in a town where, according to Yoruba mythology, the world was created. But ultimately she wants to find out if space programmes restore a continent’s pride or are just vanity projects of the elite? This programme was first broadcast in October 2016. (Photo: Part of the ensemble of dishes forming South Africa's MeerKAT radio telescope. Credit: Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images)
Jan 13, 2017
We Shall Fly - Part One
Why African nations are so keen to journey into the future as a space-going continent. Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock visits Nigeria, the birthplace of her father, to explore the passionate desire among some to fly against the continent’s impoverished stereotype and join the space race. And, what of the financial commitment required to achieve these dreams in countries where it is sometimes a struggle to keep the lights on? "Quite a few false starts have been made in Africa," wrote the Ugandan philosopher and writer Taban Lo-Liyong, "...but most of us know the direction we are going – straight into the 21st Century. And to arrive there we are not going to go the way our grandparents would have gone – on foot and by canoe. We shall fly, we shall go by missiles, we shall go with the white man, we shall go with the yellow man. And we shall go by all means." We follow this poetic, aspirational spirit through the continent’s history, from speaking to the South African hoping to be the first black African in space, to a surprising and touching example of amateur space exploration in 1960s Zambia. What do these ambitions mean, and who believes in them? This programme was first broadcast in October 2016. (Photo: Back dropped by planet Earth the International Space Station (ISS) is seen from Nasa space shuttle Endeavour, May 2011. Credit: Nasa)
Jan 12, 2017
What Would it Take to Put a Human on Mars?
Nasa is planning a manned mission to Mars. But the challenges are enormous. Astronaut Scott Kelly has just returned to Earth after almost a year in space aboard the International Space Station. His mission was to understand what a long period in zero gravity does to the human body. The research is a vital part of preparing to send a manned mission to Mars. In 2010 President Obama tasked the US Space Agency Nasa with the goal of putting an astronaut in Martian orbit, and later to land on the red planet itself. The challenges, of course, are enormous. So, what would it take to put a human on Mars? This programme first aired in March 2016. (Photo: Mars Lander, Credit: Nasa)
Jan 11, 2017
Women with the Right Stuff
The first footsteps on the Moon were one giant step for 'man', but from the early days of aeronautics women have also been involved in space travel. Presenter, pilot and aspiring astronaut Wally Funk pays tribute to the pioneers, meets some of those involved within today’s space industry, and hears from the woman who might be among the crew for the first human mission to Mars. Wally has first hand experience of the early days of space travel in America. She undertook secret tests to become an astronaut in 1961 and, along with 12 other female pilots, passed the extremely tough physical tests to become an unofficial member of the ‘Mercury 13’ – the women who, given a chance, could have gone into space before Russia’s Valentina Tereshkova made history. Wally hears from astronauts Jessica Meir, Helen Sharman, Eileen Collins and Samantha Cristoforetti; mission control flight director Mary Lawrence; space historian David J Shayler; and shares her 1961 astronaut medical tests with NASA flight surgeon Shannan Moynihan. Over 50 years after those tests, Wally is still flying (she takes her producer above Dallas in a Cessna) but she is yet to get into space. However Wally is on the waiting list for one of the first commercial space tourism flights and is prepared to make history as yet another woman with the right stuff. This is a Boffin Media production for BBC World Service.
Jul 17, 2016
The Beagle 2 Mission to Mars
On Christmas Day 2003, a British space craft was due to land on Mars and begin searching for signs of life. The late Professor Colin Pillinger describes the daring mission. Originally broadcast December 2015.
Jan 06, 2016
Reaching for the Stars
What does the future hold for human space exploration? With more countries getting involved and costs falling, ambitious projects are being proposed. Broadcast December 2015.
Jan 05, 2016
A Trip Around Mars - 2
Mountains straight out of Tolkien, catastrophic floods and streams gushing with boiling and freezing water. Kevin Fong tours Mars. Originally broadcast 29 April 2013.
Jan 03, 2016
A Trip Around Mars - 1
Kevin Fong visits landscapes that inspire scientists and artists to imagine, including volcanoes that dwarf Everest and extreme canyons. Originally broadcast 22 April 2013.
Jan 02, 2016
Skylab Falls to Earth
In 1979, the American space station, Skylab, re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. Large fragments hit SW Australia instead of the Indian Ocean. Originally broadcast 11 July 2013.
Jan 01, 2016
How to Survive in Space: Deep Space
How science, engineering and medicine come together to get fragile human life safely into space. Where should our ambitions lie? Originally broadcast 31 December 2015.
Dec 31, 2015
How to Survive in Space: Into Orbit
How science, engineering and medicine are trying to understand the limits of human physiology to ensure survival in space. Originally broadcast 30 December 2015.
Dec 30, 2015
Commander Chris Hadfield on Desert Island Discs
Commander Chris Hadfield, former commander of the International Space Station, chooses the eight discs he would take to a desert island. Originally broadcast 20 December 2015.
Dec 29, 2015
The Apollo 13 Space Emergency
In 1970, three American astronauts were heading to the moon when disaster struck. Astronaut Fred Haise describes what happened. Originally broadcast 14 April 2010.
Dec 27, 2015
Why Does The Moon Fascinate Us So Much?
Why has the moon fascinated humans for so long? The moon in culture, how it affects life on Earth and what the moon is really like. Originally broadcast 21 July 2014.
Dec 26, 2015
Capturing Space
A discussion on how our understanding of space has been forged both by art, film, music and science. Originally broadcast 22 December 2015.
Dec 25, 2015
Food on Mars
What would it take to grow food extra-terrestrially? We explore the science that is being developed to grow food in space. Originally broadcast 8 November 2015
Dec 24, 2015
Sounds of Space 2: Deep Space
Take a sonic tour of the universe - this time, deep into the cosmos. Some sounds are recorded sound, others are data that have been sonified. Originally broadcast 7 July 2015.
Dec 23, 2015
The First Woman in Space
Salute Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. In June 1963, she boarded Vostok 6 at Baikonur cosmodrome and went into orbit. Originally broadcast 21 June, 2013.
Dec 21, 2015
Launching the Hubble Space Telescope
In 1990 the Hubble Telescope was launched into space, but the first pictures it sent back to earth were out of focus. Originally broadcast 23 April 2010.
Dec 20, 2015
Space Wars
War in space is not just Hollywood fantasy - it's a fast-approaching threat. Military minds believe wars will be fought on Earth - and above it. Broadcast on 19 December 2015.
Dec 19, 2015
Sounds of Space 1: The Solar System
The previously silent world of outer space is getting noisier. Listen in to sounds recorded on board spacecraft and sonifications of space data. Originally broadcast 30 June 2015.
Dec 18, 2015
Space Medicine
The skin suit that combats the effects of microgravity, pushing human physiology and psychology to the limit, and the 'Overview' effect.Originally broadcast on 16 December 2015
Dec 18, 2015
Enceladus: Is There Life On Saturn's Moon?
Saturn’s moon Enceladus has giant geysers blasting water into space at supersonic speeds. Does it also harbour life beneath its crust? Originally broadcast on 14 Dec 2016.
Dec 17, 2015
Star Wars - C3PO's story
The actor who plays the galaxy's most famous protocol droid remembers filming the first Star Wars movie in the mid-1970s. Originally broadcast 17 December 2015.
Dec 17, 2015
Monkeys in Space
For the first time, America sends two monkeys into space and brings them back alive. It's a watershed moment for the US space agency, Nasa. Originally broadcast on 22 May, 2012.
Dec 16, 2015
'I Nearly Drowned in Space'
Astronaut Luca Parmitano was performing maintenance on the International Space Station when he noticed water leaking into his helmet. Originally broadcast on 14 Dec 2015.
Dec 14, 2015
A Home in Space
Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti - back on Earth after 200 days in space - recalls life at the International Space Station.
Dec 13, 2015
Homer, Hagrid and the Incredible Hulk
Ben Hammersley meets creators and fans to investigate how extended fictional universes, from Harry Potter to Game of Thrones, took over global culture.
Dec 12, 2015