Moonstruck is a podcast about humans in space. Hear from astronauts, engineers, politicians, and space decision-makers as they tell their stories from the history of human spaceflight, sharing how their time at the edge of human understanding taught them about themselves and the rest of us on the ground.
Unlike the major human spaceflight missions that came before it, the International Space Station didn't come with new space suits. Now almost 40 years old, the space suits on board have their own stories to tell. In 2013, one of them suffered a close call during a space walk, almost drowning an astronaut in the process. Now, as NASA looks forward to the next generation of human spaceflight, the iconic white space suit may become a relic of the past.
NASA's Space Shuttle has launched more astronauts to outer space than all other space vehicles combined. But instead of being remembered as a workhorse for human spaceflight, the its legacy is stained with tragedy. On February 1, 2003, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe was on the runway waiting for the Columbia Space Shuttle to return home. Instead of greeting the world's newest space pioneers and welcoming them back to Earth, he was tasked with informing their families and friends of their terrible fate.
After the Soviet Union launched the first woman to space in 1963, the U.S. waited over twenty years to do the same. Despite their proven fitness to live and work in the space environment, women were not considered for early NASA missions. Decades later, the NASA astronaut corps still faces diversity challenges. Poised to become the first African American to complete a full-duration mission to the International Space Station, astronaut Jeanette Epps was pulled from her launch in 2018.
When the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on Earth's surface after humankind's first trip to the Moon, their journey wasn't over yet. Concerned about the possibility of lunar pathogens infecting the astronauts, NASA scientists quarantined the crew members for 21 days. Now, as humans prepare to return to the Moon decades later, we're faced with a different kind of planetary protection issue: preventing the spread of our own germs to other worlds.
Before there was Yuri, there was Laika. When the first human astronaut left Earth’s atmosphere in 1961, both the American and Soviet space programs had spent years testing the environment with animal passengers. Now, as we push deeper into space, the human body confronts new challenges. This time, in the era of long-term space travel, we're the test subjects.
Throughout history, humans have had a dangerous pattern of challenging the bounds of Earth's gravity, testing our limits, and expanding our world. In 1965, two nations raced to complete the first space walk; that is, sending an astronaut outside of the spacecraft's cabin, and into open space.