Making Space: The Female Frontier spotlights the history of space exploration and the women who made it possible. From the hidden women of the Apollo program and the ones locked out of astronaut training in the 1960s, to a new generation of NASA leaders taking us back to the moon and on to Mars. Making Space sheds light on the women who are often overlooked in the history of mankind’s greatest achievements.
Boots on the moon
As a veteran of the shuttle era, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson finalized payloads for the Boeing Company and then worked with NASA to oversee vital go/no-go checks before flight. But she’s taken on a new role as NASA’s first ever female launch director and the person overseeing liftoffs for the Artemis Program -- the series of missions that'll put the first woman and the next man on the moon. It’s a big job and the work has already begun, with critical tests and launch simulations already underway. But Blackwell-Thompson has spent her whole life preparing for this role. After years of countdowns, she says nothing will beat that final day when it’s time to launch humans back toward the stars.
Ingenuity helicopter: Flying on Mars
In July 2020, NASA launched its newest Mars rover to the red planet, complete with a stowaway: a small, four-pound helicopter that could become the very first spacecraft to fly on another world. A feat of engineering, the Ingenuity helicopter had to be designed from scratch for the toughest flying conditions imaginable, and heading up that effort was MiMi Aung, a 30-year veteran of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the project leader for the Ingenuity helicopter. Aung tells us the story of how the project got off the ground -- from the grueling timelines to the intense engineering constraints -- and what it'll be like to see NASA's Wright Brothers moment.
The most vertical woman in the world
Kathy Sullivan has spent her life exploring the planet. She joined NASA in 1978 and was part of the space agency's first class of female astronauts. She's a veteran of three shuttle missions and was the first US woman to conduct a space walk. But in 2020 she set an entirely new record: venturing to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans. The feat marked the first time a woman had ever traveled that far below the ocean’s surface, and it earned her the unique title of the most vertical woman in the world. After journeying far above our planet and deep below its surface, Sullivan says the two worlds aren't so different. But no matter how far she travels from civilization, Sullivan says the impact of human life is never far from sight.
The Mother of Pulsars
In 1967, Jocelyn Bell Burnell was a student at Cambridge spending her waking hours analyzing radio signals from across the universe. The signals appeared as squiggly lines on rolls of chart paper and it was her job to analyze those markings to look for evidence of quasars from across the universe. She would eventually analyze more than three miles of this paper. But there was one quarter-inch squiggle that didn't look like anything she'd seen, and it was that reading that would go on to change her life -- it was the first ever evidence of a pulsar. The discovery would change the course of science, and would eventually result in a Nobel Prize... but not for Jocelyn.
The Mercury 13
In the early ’60s, as NASA’s Mercury program was gearing up to send America’s first astronauts into orbit, a group of women went through a secret testing program to see whether they could survive the physical and mental stresses of traveling into space. Thirteen women passed with flying colors, including a young pilot named Wally Funk. This is the story of Funk and the “Mercury 13" -- a tale of strange medical tests, of a push for equality in space exploration, and of an establishment that wasn’t ready to see women fly.
The only woman in the firing room
When JoAnn Morgan was 17, she worked on her first rocket launch. By 1969, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, she was at the controls for the Apollo 11 launch. She was the only woman in the room.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This podcast is so wonderful. Amazing way to highlight such groundbreaking women. Love how much research clearly went into this and the sound editing is fantastic!
Storytellers of Space History
This podcast does such a great job weaving a story, every episode feels like I'm on the space mission with these women, who I'm embarrassed to say I'm only learning about now!
Never underestimate the heart of a woman!
These are well-told stories of courageous, determined women in the space program. The stories describe how they worked hard and succeeded despite sexism and exclusion. Hearing them recount their experiences draws the listener in. I recommend this podcast for everyone, especially girls and young women who dare to dream.