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The National Air and Space Museum contains the largest and most significant collection of air- and spacecraft in the world. Behind those amazing machines are thousands of stories of human achievement, failure, and perseverance. Join Emily, Matt, and Nick as they demystify one of the world’s most visited museums and explore why people are so fascinated with stories of exploration, innovation, and discovery.
It took a certain amount of pure grit to be a pilot in the early days of aviation – and even more for the women who had to defy convention just to get up in the air. And that’s why early aviatrixes are at the top of our badass list. And if you’re thinking the only aviatrix was Amelia Earhart – think again. She was just one of a daring group of women aviators who were walking on wings, flying under bridges, breaking altitude records, and racing across the country – in the 1920s!
Join Emily, Matt, and Nick as they explore the history of the Ninety-Nines, the organization of women pilots originally led by Earhart and still active today. Documentary-maker Heather Taylor sets the scene of the thrilling and dangerous first Women’s National Air Derby in 1929. And Emily discovers an amazing view in her first non-commercial flight (in a tiny four-seater!) with modern-day Ninety-Nine Judy Shaw.
|Aug 09, 2018|
Happy (Planet) Hunting
NASA launched TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, on April 18, 2018, continuing our search for planets outside of our solar system (aka exoplanets). Over a two-year period, TESS will survey the entire sky looking for drops in the brightness of stars that indicate the presence of a passing, or transiting, planet. On this episode Emily, Matt, and Nick unpack TESS, discussing space telescopes, exoplanets, and the search for life in our universe (also: Goldilocks, crud-eating enzymes, and Dan Brown books).
|Jul 26, 2018|
Spies in the Sky
People have been spying on each other for forever. This episode is about what changed when spies upped their game (literally), rising into the sky. We’ll hear from Museum curator and aviation historian Tom Crouch on how the military application of balloons was first demonstrated to Abraham Lincoln right outside our front door in DC. And, we’ll talk to former SR-71 Blackbird pilot Buz Carpenter on what it was like flying a spy plane 80,000 feet up while going three times the speed of sound. Emily, Matt, and Nick provide the intel on our eyes in the sky and the high-flying hi-tech that makes it possible.
|Jul 12, 2018|
Cute Little Robots in Danger?
Did we just find life on Mars? No. But NASA did announce two exciting new discoveries on the Red Planet—just before a Martian dust storm engulfed the planet. In this episode, Emily, Matt, and Nick will break down the meaning of the recently discovered organic molecules and mysterious methane, discuss the emotional attachment we invest in our roving robot friends, and explore the daunting challenges and enduring allure of exploring the fourth rock from the Sun.
|Jun 28, 2018|
Space is a mess. At this moment, there are literally thousands of human-made objects cluttering up Earth orbit. There's the big stuff you would expect, like satellites. But, when two of these large objects collide, they can create millions of tiny orbiting pieces. And all of these little particles can cause big problems.
This episode is all about orbital debris, a.k.a. space junk – where it comes from, how we’re trying to solve the debris problem, and what happens when it comes back to Earth. We’ll talk with Donald Kessler, the former NASA scientist who first modeled the dangers of space junk, and historian Lisa Rand, who shares the creative ideas on how to clean it up (think – lasers… and gecko feet).
|Jun 14, 2018|
You’ve heard about a gastropub, but what about an astropub? Nobody becomes an astronaut for the food, but space cuisine has come a long way since the 1960s. You can now find espresso and tortillas aboard the International Space Station, but there is sadly no astronaut ice cream. In this episode, we’ll explore the Museum’s space food collection with curator Valerie Neal. And we’ll hear from Apollo astronaut Harrison Schmitt on what it was like to eat on the Moon.
|May 10, 2018|
2001: An AirSpace Odyssey
It’s the 50th anniversary of one of the slowest, strangest, and yet, most referenced science fiction films of all time – 2001: A Space Odyssey. It may be your FAVORITE movie, or, quite possibly, you’ve never actually seen it in its 142-minute entirety. Emily, Matt, and Nick break it down for you – Cliff’s Notes on the plot, the collaborations that made the film so realistic, and the first peeks at technologies that really exist today. Become cocktail party conversant about why a 50 year old science fiction movie remains so relevant and what current sci-fi says about our world today and the years ahead.
|Apr 12, 2018|
Remembering Stephen Hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking died on March 14 at the age of 76. Hawking's contributions to science centered on his search for a unified theory of the universe, but his impact spanned far beyond the scientific community. To the many around the world, he was an expert science communicator and even a pop-culture icon. In this special episode, Emily, Matt, and Nick reflect on Hawking's enduring impact on science and culture.
|Mar 19, 2018|
“Eject, eject, eject!” Most of us are experienced at bailing out of social situations, but what about airplanes? Fewer than 1% of military pilots ever pull the eject handle, but they all know what comes next.The canopy blows, and the pilot is (literally!) rocketed up and out. Now what? In this episode, we’ll learn how pilots train to get out and back down to Earth safely, and we’ll hear from someone who did it (upside down, at 23,000 feet!). Join Emily, Matt, and Nick as they discuss the ins and outs of bailing out.
Update: We heard from a squadron mate of Chris’, who reminisced about the first time he heard the story (over the radio before Chris and Snake bailed out, and after they were safely recovered). He enjoyed the retelling, but corrected us about one thing: the canopy of an F-14 can actually hover momentarily above the cockpit in the event of an ejection, specifically when the aircraft is in a flat spin, as seen in Top Gun. The procedure for F-14 crews in the event of a confirmed flat spin was to release the canopy manually a few seconds before pulling the eject handle. Many thanks to this listener for correcting the record. We welcome listener feedback anytime via firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Mar 08, 2018|
The Right Stuff Right Now
The criteria to become an astronaut has evolved over the years, but it’s still one of the toughest jobs to land. 18,000 people applied to be a part of NASA’s most recent astronaut class and only 12 were selected. In this episode, we’ll explore how the right stuff has changed with the times and get a taste of what hopefuls go through to make the cut.
|Feb 08, 2018|
No human has ever set foot on Mars, but scientists have been working there for years. A day on the red planet is about 40 minutes longer than here on Earth, which wreaks havoc on your workweek. Hosts Emily, Matt, and Nick will explore how scientists have adapted to the challenge of working on “Mars Time.” In this episode find out what it takes to be a professional Martian without ever leaving your home planet.
|Jan 11, 2018|
Countdown to Launch
The National Air and Space Museum is launching a podcast! You can subscribe to the feed now. Our first episode is coming January 11.
The National Air and Space Museum contains the largest and most significant collection of air- and spacecraft in the world. Behind those amazing machines are thousands of stories of human achievement, failure, and perseverance. Each episode, join Emily, Matt, and Nick as they demystify one of the world’s most visited museums and explore why people are so fascinated with stories of exploration, innovation, and discovery.
|Jan 03, 2018|