We see the connections to aviation and space in literally everything. From our favorite movies and the songs in our playlists to the latest news of space exploration and your commercial flight home for the holidays – aerospace is literally everywhere you look. Twice a month our hosts riff on some of the coolest stories of aviation and space history, news, and culture. We promise, whether you’re an AVGeek, wannabe Space Camper, or none of the above, you’ll find not only a connection to your life but you’ll learn something interesting in the process.
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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.
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.
Have you always wanted to experience what it’s like to be an astronaut but without the queasy upshot of actually shooting into space? Then we’ve got news for you! Only around 550 people have been to outer space (like, ever!). But many more can and do participate in simulated space missions right here on Earth—and it turns out they’re super important.
Ever wonder what would happen to your body in space without a spacesuit? Given it’s spooky szn, we figured we’d do something a little different for this Halloween episode of AirSpace and dissect one the scariest situations an astronaut could be in. For a crash course in the intersection between astronaut life and rapid decompression we talk to the Mary Roach. And having authored the nonfiction books Packing for Mars, Stiff, and Grunt she’s kind of perfectly qualified to talk about this bizarre venn diagram.
Mirror, mirror under the football field, what secrets of the universe will you yield? Okay, so we’re terrible poets (except maybe Matt). But we are feeling a bit reflective these days, so we’re taking this opportunity to ponder reflecting telescopes of all sizes, shapes, and types. Reflectors use mirrors to gather light and produce an image. Some are meant for space (we’re looking at you Hubble and JWST), and others are used here on Earth. In this episode, we’re taking you into two labs – one under the football stadium at the University of Arizona that makes some of the biggest telescope mirrors in the world, and another under the house (okay, it’s a basement) of someone who makes their own telescope mirrors at home. Same deal, way different scale. We promise this one isn’t a grind!
100 years ago Bessie Coleman became the first African American woman to earn her pilot's license. In part because she was a woman, and especially a woman of color, Bessie had to travel all the way to Europe to get her flight training. Today on AirSpace, we're looking back on Bessie's experiences in France and Germany in the 1920s and exploring just how far she went to earn her historic license (and inspire generations of pilots along the way).
Raise a glass and cheers to a new season of AirSpace! And to help us get in the celebratory mood, today's episode is about a truly intoxicating period of American history – prohibition. You might know [we didn’t] that NASCAR has its roots in bootleggers driving illicit hooch in the 1920s. But it turns out, not all bootleggers were driving their contraband around in cars. Today on AirSpace, learn how prohibition and passenger airlines went hand-in-hand.
We’re just two weeks away from a brand new season of AirSpace! Today, though, we’re revisiting a favorite from May 2020 – the first installment of the AirSpace Movie Club. Join us on this trip down memory lane and listen to Emily, Matt, and Nick break down the Voyager-referencing, Bowie-fueled, and endlessly endearing Troop Zero. And don’t miss new episodes of AirSpace beginning September 9th!
We’re hard at work on Season 5 (launching this September!) but before then, we’re giving you a second bite at a topic we spent a long time thinking about this year: what’s in a name? Earlier this season we explored how planetary bodies and their geological features get named. We also recorded an explainer on how NASA names their spacecraft, but we just didn’t have time for it in the original episode. So, what do Snoopy, Spider, and Gumdrop have in common? Find out in this bonus episode!
We have a flair for the dramatic here at AirSpace (Who… US?!). And we’d be lying if we told you we don’t occasionally daydream about the end of the world. But, like, scientifically speaking. We’ve seen plenty of sci-fi depictions of what the end might look like, but what will actually happen when the Sun engulfs the Earth? And what does the “end of the universe” even mean? To dissect these grim questions, we’re diving into a sci-fi series that offers a lot of hopeful examples of humanity’s perseverance: "Doctor Who."