Summary: 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.
A decade ago it was pretty rare to see an all-electric car on the road. Now that you see them all. the. time. we wondered – what about electric vehicles in the *sky*? Several companies are working to overcome the challenges of all-electric flight, and it’ll likely be a long time before your commercial plane goes electric. But smaller, shorter-distance applications of all-electric air transport might be just around the corner. In this episode, we speak to Dr. Martine Rothblatt to learn how her company is working towards using electric helicopters to deliver the ultimate precious cargo -- transplantable human organs. Did you know AirSpace has a monthly newsletter? Sign up here! AirSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay.
Happy Pride Month! Today, we’re bringing you a special installment of QueerSpace, our limited series featuring stories and people at the intersection of aviation, space, and LGBTQ+ history and culture. Seven years ago this month, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v Hodges that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry under the constitution. If you dig into an amicus brief for Obergefell, you’ll see mention of another case, Norton v Macy. This case set the first precedent ruling that the federal government can’t fire an employee for being gay. We talk a lot about pilots and astronauts who’ve made history, but today’s aerospace trailblazer was a humble NASA civil servant and petitioner named Clifford Norton. In this episode of QueerSpace, attorney Paul Thompson, lawyer for the Mattachine Society of Washington, DC, and writer of that Obergefell amicus brief, walks us through Norton’s case and explains how its impacts are still seen in our legal system today. QueerSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay. Did you know we have a monthly AirSpace newsletter? Sign up here!
In 1859 the Sun threw a temper tantrum directed at Earth. It spewed magnetized plasma into space, which made its way here and triggered effects that *literally* shocked telegraph operators (not to mention knocking down telegraph lines and causing aurora to be seen near the equator). If a geomagnetic storm of this size happened today, it could cause a widespread electrical and communications blackout. Events of that magnitude are rare but the Sun’s activity affects us all the time – from static on the radio to a diverted commercial flight or a wonky GPS app. The good news is scientists are monitoring the Sun to predict when and where effects will be felt. On today’s episode, we speak to experts from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center to learn how and why they stare at the Sun (for science!). Did you know AirSpace has a monthly newsletter? Sign up here! AirSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay.
Brr… it’s cold in here. There must be some thickness to this at-mo-sphere. On today’s episode, we’re cheering for the fraternal twins of the outer solar system. You might know them as the Ice Giants, but really they’re big mush-balls: Uranus and Neptune. And like most siblings, these two planets have plenty in common: both discovered by telescope, both have ring and moon systems, and both were studied by Voyager 2. Scientists have learned a ton about Uranus and Neptune over the last few decades, but since these planets are hard to see and even harder to get to, many questions remain. It’s all about the coolest planets of the solar system today on AirSpace. Did you know AirSpace has a monthly newsletter? Sign up here! AirSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay.
On the scale of thrilling aviation activities, hot air balloon rides normally rank pretty low. But how would you feel if one balloon ride was your ticket to a better life? AND what if you had to not only pilot the balloon yourself, but build it from scratch, in secret? What started with a magazine article about the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta ended with a thrilling aerial escape from East Germany in 1979. On this episode of AirSpace, we hear what it was like from someone who lived it firsthand. And we talk to a modern-day balloonist to learn just how difficult it is to create your own air-worthy balloon. Did you know AirSpace has a monthly newsletter? Sign up here! AirSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay.
Anyone who’s observed the Milky Way or has seen a beautiful Hubble image can understand how space and space imagery can be a source of creative inspiration. When researching QueerSpace, we repeatedly saw creators blending themes of space and themes of queerness in their art. Many of these artists use their art to envision new futures. Futurist thinking uses the experience of the past and present to contextualize and reimagine what the future could be, often creating a future that’s more equitable and radically different than what we have now. In this episode of QueerSpace, Stamatina Gregory from the Leslie-Lohman Museum helps to contextualize the origins of this intersection of space, queerness, and futurism in art. And we hear from photographer Lola Flash and poet Nikki Giovanni on their art, inspiration, and visions of the future. QueerSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay. Did you know we have a monthly AirSpace newsletter? Sign up here!
Historically, queer-identifying people in the U.S. military have been forced out or forced to hide who they are. It wasn’t until 2011 that gay, lesbian, and bisexual servicemembers could serve openly, and only in the last few years that trans servicemembers could serve at all. And while there’s still a ways to go, last year the Air Force and Space Force formed a working group specifically for LGBTQ+ issues. On this episode of QueerSpace, we speak to the Director of the LGBTQ Initiative Team (LIT), Maj. Gen. Leah Lauderback, to hear how LIT is working to change policy, change minds, and create opportunities for LGBTQ+ members of the military. QueerSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay. Did you know we have a monthly AirSpace newsletter? Sign up here!
In science fiction, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Sci-fi writers often create entirely new civilizations where our social constructions can be upended and examined, or just thrown out entirely. They can literally rewrite a world in terms of gender, sexuality, and culture, making something that is more inclusive and often more interesting. In this episode, we talk to bookseller Hannah Oliver Depp of Loyalty Books about the history of queer worldbuilding in sci-fi literature and get some book recommendations that are headed to the top of our to-read lists. QueerSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay. Did you know we have a monthly AirSpace newsletter? Sign up here!
We’re working on the next season of AirSpace as we speak, but today, we’re excited to bring you QueerSpace — a limited series from the creators of AirSpace, featuring stories and people at the intersection of aviation, space, and LGBTQ+ history and culture. For the next two months, we’re highlighting the scope and diversity of queer experiences found across human flight and space science. The first episode spotlights the history and community built by male flight attendants. You may think that the role of flight attendant has always been a women-dominated profession. But that wasn’t always the case. Very early on in commercial aviation, many flight attendants (or stewards as they were then known) were men. But in the mid-20th century, that changed as airlines began exclusively hiring women for the role. When, in the 1970s, a court case forced airlines to hire men and women on equal terms and more men became flight attendants, gay men created a community within the industry that was uniquely supportive and welcoming. The next few decades would test that community, first with changes to how airlines were allowed to operate, and then by the AIDS crisis. In this episode, we talk to Plane Queer author Phil Tiemeyer and former flight attendant David Hinson to explore that community. QueerSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay. Did you know we have a monthly AirSpace newsletter? Sign up here!
We’re hard at work on Season 6 (and a super special project coming in just a few weeks!!). But today, we’re revisiting one of our favorite episodes from last year. They’re incredibly dense, super cool, and mind-bendingly-mysterious -- BLACK HOLES! But how do you imagine – let alone study—the unseeable? And seriously—what happened at the end of “Interstellar?” The concept of black holes isn’t new—scientists first theorized their existence in the early 20th century. But in the last few years our knowledge of black holes has expanded – from confirmation of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way (it really ties the galaxy together) to the first-ever image of a black hole captured by the Event Horizon Telescope. We’re now making direct observations that prove their existence. And scientists even released an image of a black hole in polarized light, with signs of magnetic fields around the event horizon. And if you don’t understand what that means, you’re not alone!! We’re all on this magic school bus of discovery together – come abroad, it’s going to be a wild ride! We’d love to hear your thoughts on the show! Take our listener survey. Did you know AirSpace has a monthly newsletter? Sign up here!
We get it—the early days of aviation were full of outlandish characters, and it can be a little exhausting. But trust us on this one—it’ll be worth it. Wiley Post was an oil-worker and armed robber-turned-recording breaking pilot who discovered the jet stream while wearing a sweet eye-patch and a suit straight out of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (it was a lewk). That should be enough but wait! There’s more! That steampunk getup, which Wiley designed and built with tire company BF Goodrich, was the very first successful pressure suit. And it did more than unlock the stratosphere, it laid the groundwork for the first spacesuits—and modern spacesuits aren’t much different. This tall tale keeps getting higher, but again—trust us (we’ve got the suit!). Special thanks to Tested’s Adam Savage, whose answer for “history’s most important spacesuit” was both unexpected and absolutely on the mark. AirSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay.
On a spring evening in 1933, Amelia Earhart took first lady Eleanor Roosevelt on a joyride. Imagine two women—dressed for dinner at the White House (white gloves and all)—stealing away from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave to pilot and co-pilot a nighttime flight to Baltimore. On this episode of AirSpace, we’re detailing the high-flying friendship of these two women – from their shared background as social workers to their mutual love of flight and advocacy of women’s empowerment and social justice. Amelia and Elanor took the business of being role models seriously, leading by example and using their influence to elevate important societal issues. Talk about an influencer power couple! Thanks to our guests who helped us contextualize their history and friendship – biographers Allida Black and Susan Butler. AirSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay. Did you know we have a monthly newsletter? Get on the list!
Traveling for the holidays? Would you rather take a trip to the Moon? On this episode of AirSpace, we’re breaking down Georges Méliès' iconic 1902 film “Le Voyage dans la Lune.” Silent and only about 13 minutes long, this classic might lack a bit of 21st century movie pizazz but it was absolutely groundbreaking to science fiction and filmmaking. Based on Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon,” it was the first film to depict space travel. It also features many moviemaking techniques Méliès pioneered in filming, editing, and storytelling that are still used by the film industry today. We hear lunar weather this time of year is lovely – come on in, the spaceship is fine! AirSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay.
At AirSpace we absolutely LOVE spotlighting stories about incredible aviators who might not already be on your radar. Today, we’re introducing you to the Chinese aviatrix Li Xiaqing: A literal movie star who learned to fly with the aspiration of serving her country. Li’s story is not only inspiring, it’s practically a screenplay waiting to be written. Born in 1911 into a rapidly changing China, she took flying lessons in Switzerland and the United States before returning to China in the 1930s. Despite being grounded by her home country during the war, she still found a way to use her skills in the war effort barnstorming across the US raising money for China. An actress, aviatrix, and altruist? Now, that’s a true triple threat. Thanks to our guests - Author Patti Gully for sharing Li’s incredible story and historian Stephen MacKinnon for providing the historical context of China in the early 20th century. AirSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay.
93% of televisions in the United States tuned in to see Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon. Can you believe 7% were watching something else? At 11pm on a Sunday?? But as much as we love it now, Apollo 11’s contemporary acclaim wasn’t exactly universal. Many people, all over America, had reservations about spending billions of dollars on space exploration instead of solving problems here on Earth. And some Americans had their eyes on a very different, much more important prize. The rise of Apollo coincided with the peak of the Civil Rights Movement (which technically ended with the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1968—but we all know the struggle and the movement didn’t end there). In this episode, Emily, Matt, and Nick explore the intersection of these two moments in American history, discuss the protests, activists, and anthems of the time, and talk to Sylvia Drew Ivie about the issues then and how we’re still working to turn it all around. AirSpace is made possible by the generous support of Olay.