37 episodes

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.

AirSpace National Air and Space Museum

    • History

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.

    Survivor

    Survivor

    They say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, particularly when you’re looking for signs of extraterrestrial life. Is that a Martian bacterium you just found, or is it an Earth bug accidentally along for the ride? An Israeli spacecraft recently crashed on the Moon, unintentionally spilling a payload of adorable, microscopic extremophiles called tardigrades (aka water bears or moss piglets). Tardigrades can survive a lot of harsh environments, including the hard vacuum of space, and may now be alive on the lunar surface. In the final episode of season 2, Emily, Nick, and Matt discuss the implications of tardigrades on the Moon, and why scientists are working hard to ensure that microbes from Earth aren’t contaminating our search for life in the solar system. Water Bears on the Moon! Planetary Defense! Outer Space Law!

    • 11 min
    Out of the Frying Pan

    Out of the Frying Pan

    There are more than a dozen Earth-born satellites orbiting Mars. Why send another? Today’s episode highlights a movie with answers…Science to be done! Engineering challenges to overcome! National prestige! Personal Moonshots! Because it’s there! 

    Based on India’s 2014 Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), the new Hindi-language film Mission Mangal has all of this and more, plus all the energy and charm of a genre-melding Bollywood feature. Why do countries invest in space exploration, why do people devote their careers to places millions of miles away, and what does all of this have to do with fried bread?  Emily, Matt, and Nick unpack story behind their new favorite space movie (yes, it’s even better than Armageddon!).

    • 10 min
    Every Rose Has Its Thorn

    Every Rose Has Its Thorn

    Today on the show, we tackle the meaning of life. Well… not really. But definitely matters of consequence. We are talking about the beloved children’s book that taught us the meaning of friendship and the value of a child-like perspective – The Little Prince. Odds are you’ve read the book – but do you know the story behind the parable? Nick sits down with biographer Stacey Schiff and journalist Martin Buckley to unravel the larger-than-life story of the book’s author (and famous flier) Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Hear how this hero of early French aviation called on his life experience and personal philosophy to pen one of the most widely read stories of ALL time. PLUS crash landings, asteroids, and war stories!

    • 24 min
    What’s He Building?

    What’s He Building?

    Alt title: ADAM SAVAGE IS IN THIS EPISODE! Today we’re talking about a really cool project that brought together one former-Mythbuster, a couple of Smithsonian units, and makers across the country to reimagine an incredible piece of Apollo engineering.  The hatch (aka door) on the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia is SUPER complex and basically irresistible if you’re into solving mechanical puzzles – so much so that master builders Adam Savage and Jen Schachter wanted to recreate it with the help of a few dozen friends. They brought together 44 artists and engineers from across the country to fabricate individual components of the hatch using 3D-scan data from the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office. Then Adam and team assembled it live at the Museum in DC during the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. On this episode we hear what happens when lasers, power tools, and a live studio audience (safely) collide!

    P.S. Want to build your own Apollo 11 hatch? Visit 3d.si.edu/apollo11cmhatch to view the 3D model and download the .stl files and drawings used by the Project Egress team. Post your photos and tag #ProjectEgress!

    • 19 min
    Night Witches

    Night Witches

    Today (tonight?) we’re talking about a chilling chapter from flight history— Night Bomber Regiment 588. They were a group of about 80 Soviet women who flew combat missions during World War II. Led by famous Russian pilot Marina Raskova, these fearless aviatrixes would fly across German lines under cover of darkness and drop bombs from their WWII bi-planes, striking targets on the ground and terror in the hearts of their enemies. They became so feared by the German army that they were dubbed the die Nachthexen, or the Night Witches. This isn’t a lame Halloween story, this is badass history.

    • 16 min
    Walking on the Moon Part 2

    Walking on the Moon Part 2

    Next week is the 50th anniversary of our first steps on the Moon! In our last exciting episode, we explored all the science the Apollo astronauts performed on the lunar surface. In part two, we’re talking about the important science still happening with Apollo Moon rocks here on Earth a half-century later. Of all the 842 pounds of lunar material the astronauts collected up there, three samples were sealed away for scientists to study far in the future. And the future is now! We’ll speak to two scientists from NASA Goddard who will be working with the heretofore sealed samples, which are still in pristine, untouched condition from when astronauts of yesteryear plucked them off our nearest celestial neighbor. And Emily speaks to Lunar geologist Dr. Jennifer Whitten who’s working on a proposal to send a rover back to the Moon to carry on Apollo’s legacy of lunar exploration. Lunar science of the future happens now!

    • 29 min

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