Mission: Interplanetary

Mission: Interplanetary

Join Astronaut Cady Coleman and scientist/author Andrew Maynard as they explore the unique visions of those working to take us to new worlds.Mission: Interplanetary looks at the big questions, the challenges to overcome, and the opportunities within reach. We talk to the people imagining, designing, and building the future of humans in space. Join us for a glimpse into futures that lie far beyond the bounds of Earth.


November 15, 2022 40 mins
Thus far, the only humans to walk on the Moon have been US astronauts. But the coming decade may see many more people there—people from several countries and even private corporations. How can we ensure peaceful cooperation between players with different interests? Cady & Andrew talk with NASA’s Chief Economist Alex MacDonald about the future of lunar governance. Also, the Artemis 1 launch, Cady obsesses over donuts, Andrew discove...
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In a year of so many amazing achievements in space exploration, there may be nothing as inspiring and scientifically significant as the deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The most powerful telescope ever built is allowing scientists to peer into the distant past—billions of years—to help fill gaps in our understanding of the universe and its history. What exactly are we learning from the JWST? NASA’s Amber Straugh...
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November 1, 2022 35 mins
The first astronauts squeezed their meals out of a tube. But space food has come a long way since then. What might be on future lunar menus? How do we grow food in microgravity? Short answer: We science the heck out of it. Matt Damon has nothing on this week’s guest. NASA’s Bryan Onate talks with Cady & Andrew about how scientists are developing the future of space food. Also, Cady’s working on a book, Andrew contemplates the futur...
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Space exploration imagines itself as a secular endeavor with its foundations in science and engineering? But how accurate is this self-image? Religious Studies scholar Mary-Jane Rubenstein talks with guest hosts Tanya Harrison and Joe O’Rourke about the surprising affinities between religion and space exploration. Check out her forthcoming book on the subject! Also, Joe delights in revenge for the dinosaurs, Tanya speculates on a p...
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You’ve probably worked on teams, collaborating with groups of people to achieve shared goals. And it can be really difficult. Now imagine working with an immense team to do something as difficult as building a successful space mission. Tracy Drain has done it. Repeatedly. She’s the Lead Flight Systems Engineer for NASA’s Europa Clipper Mission, and she talks with Cady and Andrew about what she’s learned about running successful col...
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October 11, 2022 41 mins
It was 1972 the last time humans walked on the Moon. Now, with the Artemis program and other efforts, we’re returning to the lunar surface this decade. But why are we going? And what will we do once we get there? Cady & Andrew talk with former astronaut and best-selling author Chris Hadfield of the Open Lunar Foundation about the near-future of humans on the Moon. Also, Artemis I delays, Andrew worries about robots, and an impactfu...
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October 4, 2022 35 mins
There are tens of thousands of pieces of space junk hurtling around our planet at terrifying speeds. This debris—dead satellites, bits of old spacecraft, etc.—pose a real danger to humans who travel to space and to the technologies we use every day here on Earth. Privateer co-founder Moriba Jah talks to Cady & Andrew about addressing this urgent challenge. SPOILER: Empathy is part of the solution. Also, NASA’s DART mission boops an...
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September 19, 2022 32 secs
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There may be no question more profound than, “Are we alone in the universe?” Certainly, recent years have seen a lot of energy around looking for signs of primitive life on other worlds—Mars, Europa, Enceladus, even Venus. But microbes, even Martian ones, seem like poor company. What of the search for intelligent life? Are we done with that? Was that just an 80s thing, like shoulder pads? Cady and Andrew talk with legendary pioneer...
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As sites for research and potential gateways to the solar system, space stations play a critical role in building positive space futures. But so far, all of these—like Skylab, Mir, the International Space Station (ISS)—were owned and operated by governments. That is changing. In 2021, Blue Origin announced plans to build a private space station: Orbital Reef. What will people do there? How will it be different than previous space s...
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April 26, 2022 39 mins
The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act changed the lives of millions of people, helping to make public spaces accessible to those with disabilities. But thirty years after this law, space exploration is still a disabling endeavor that excludes too many people. How can we change this? How can we make space inclusive of everyone? In this episode, part 2 of a series, Cady and Andrew talk with Sina Bahram of Prime Access Consulting a...
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April 19, 2022 37 mins
In the early years of human space exploration, only those with the narrowly-defined and exclusionary “Right Stuff” could be astronauts. Though we’ve come a long way in expanding our ideas of who can go to space, we’re still leaving out so many people because of disabling design decisions. In this episode, Cady and Andrew talk with Ann Kapusta of AstroAccess about how we can make space more accessible for disabled people. Spoiler: t...
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April 12, 2022 39 mins
Mars and Venus are our two nearest planetary neighbors, named after the god of war and the goddess of love, respectively. We have rovers on Mars and new missions planned for Venus. But where should we focus most of our attention? In this episode, we’re out to settle this question once and for all. It’s a Planetary Smackdown. Professional Martian Tanya Harrison of Planet Labs is in the ring for Mars, and Joe O’Roarke, planetary scie...
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April 5, 2022 37 mins
On Mission: Interplanetary, we talk about space exploration as one of humanity’s greatest collective challenges. Another of those challenges is fighting climate change. How do these two overlap? Cady and Andrew talk with Dava Newman, Director of MIT’s Media Lab, whose non-profit Earth DNA uses satellite data to make the reality of our climate emergency legible to people on Earth. It’s a kind of dashboard for our planet! Also, Andre...
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March 29, 2022 39 mins
The next 10 or 20 years may see the first humans on Mars. Sure, Matt Damon suffered catastrophic potato crop failure in The Martian, but what dangers will that first real crew on the Red Planet actually face? And how do we keep them safe? NASA Chief Scientist and Manger for Science & Technology Utilization Julie Robinson talks with Cady and Andrew about the five hazards of human space travel, and what we’re doing to guard against t...
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March 22, 2022 35 mins
You’ve probably heard about space mining from science fiction. But in the absence of “spice” (Dune shout-out!), what will we actually mine in space? And where? And how? Cady and Andrew talk with space engineer Chris Lewicki about the future of off-Earth mining. Also, the problem with vinyl, novel uses of space flooring, and Sounds of Space.  This week’s Sounds of Space comes from the great folks at SYSTEM Sounds.   Hosts Cady Colem...
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May 11, 2021 42 mins
Space begins some sixty-two miles above the surface of the Earth, but for most people it feels far more distant. Cady and Andrew talk with Ellen Stofan, Under Secretary for Science and Research at the Smithsonian, about bringing space closer to people. Also, space debris in the news, the problem with rotating space stations, and a new Sounds of Space. This week’s Sounds of Space from the great folks at System Sounds. Hosts Cady Co...
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May 4, 2021 38 mins
More than half a million bits of deadly space junk are racing around our planet. What do we do about that? Cady and Andrew talk to NASA astronaut Mark Brown about the problem of orbital debris. Also, the passing of legendary astronaut Michael Collins, daffodils, the sci-fi of Toby Weston, and a new Sounds of Space. Check out this week’s Sounds of Space here. Hosts Cady Coleman & Andrew Maynard Twitter Interplanetary Initiative: @I...
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April 27, 2021 44 mins
What happens if you murder someone in space? Cady and Andrew talk to space lawyer Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty about the laws that govern us when we leave Earth. Also, Ingenuity flies on Mars, Star Cops, Battlestar Galactica, and a new Sounds of Space. This week’s Sounds of Space comes from the great folks at System Sounds. Hosts Cady Coleman & Andrew Maynard Twitter Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty: @Timiebi89 Interplanetary Initiative: @II_ASU ...
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April 20, 2021 39 mins
Nothing lasts forever, including the universe. So how will it all end? Cady and Andrew talk with theoretical astrophysicist Katie Mack about the ultimate destruction of the cosmos. Also, comfort food on the ISS, crocheting, and a new Sounds of Space.  This week’s Sounds of Space link. Data processed by Alexander G. Kosovichev. Hosts Cady Coleman & Andrew Maynard Twitter Natalie Trevino: @AstroKatie Interplanetary Initiative: @II_AS...
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