Moonrise

Moonrise

“Truer, but also darker.” This is the real origin story behind America’s decision to go to the moon. The story we learn starts with Sputnik, then President Kennedy’s challenge, and ends with triumph: an American flag on the lunar surface. But in the 50 years that have passed since the moon landing, as presidential documents have been declassified and secret programs have been revealed, a wilder story has begun to emerge. “Moonrise,” a new Washington Post narrative mini-series, digs into the nuclear arms race of the Cold War, the transformation of American society and politics, and even the birth of science fiction, to unearth what really drove us to the moon. Join host Lillian Cunningham (of the Presidential and Constitutional podcasts) as she uncovers a story that has so much to reveal about America -- and about the dreams and nightmares of being human on this Earth.

Episodes

July 18, 2019 4 mins

You’ve heard about how we landed on the moon, now find out why we went there. Host Lillian Cunningham introduces a new Washington Post podcast that will explore the real story behind the moonshot — a wild tale of nuclear brinkmanship, backroom politics and sci-fi influence ... Coming summer 2019.

We’ll be doing an exclusive preview of “Moonrise” at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium on Thursday, July 18, during Adler After Dark. Come liste...

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A man who meets himself on the moon. A blue orb that bursts into flames. The quest to explain the unexplained. In the first chapter of "Moonrise," the journey to space begins.
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July 30, 2019 36 mins
A tiny New York office fills with big ideas. A group of sci-fi writers bring space travel into popular culture. American rocketry begins to take flight. On this episode of Moonrise, the dream of the moon starts to become reality.
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August 6, 2019 41 mins
A German rocket scientist with a secret mission and dark past. A science fiction editor under the watch of the FBI. In the third chapter of Moonrise, weapons of war lay the groundwork for space travel.
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August 13, 2019 38 mins
A Russian rocket dreamer is sent to a Siberian prison. And the road to redemption stretches more than 5,000 miles. On this episode of "Moonrise," a look at the maestro behind the Soviet space effort.
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August 20, 2019 38 mins
Nuclear fears haunt the American psyche. Fascination with aliens is on the rise. And the U.S. government begins secret rocket experiments. In the fifth installment of "Moonrise," the best and worst of science fiction's predictions start to spring to life.
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August 27, 2019 40 mins
A top-secret memo in the Eisenhower administration. A plan to make space the new military high ground. And a Soviet beep heard from above. In the sixth chapter of “Moonrise,” humans launch the very first object into orbit.
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September 17, 2019 49 mins
Congress investigates the Sputnik launch. Lyndon Johnson seizes the spotlight. And President Eisenhower gets backed into a corner. In the seventh chapter of “Moonrise,” space gets political.
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September 24, 2019 47 mins
John F. Kennedy goes from senator to president. Space cowboys go from fiction to reality. And the United States chooses to go to the moon — in the eighth chapter of “Moonrise.”
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October 1, 2019 45 mins
John F. Kennedy announces the moonshot. Then the doubts creep in …In the ninth chapter of “Moonrise,” old White House recordings reveal the president’s true views on the space race.
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October 8, 2019 57 mins
Lyndon Johnson takes over the presidency following John F. Kennedy’s assassination, while rocketeer Sergei Korolev watches his fate rise and fall in the Soviet Union. In the 10th chapter of “Moonrise,” both countries hit setbacks in the race to the moon.
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October 15, 2019 50 mins
The United States confronts race riots and the Vietnam War. Science fiction wrestles with its purpose now that space travel has become real. And NASA investigates its own failings. In the 11th chapter of “Moonrise,” we look inward.
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October 22, 2019 49 mins
Apollo 11 lifts off from Earth, fulfilling but also waking us from a longtime science-fiction dream. In the finale of “Moonrise,” we find ourselves on the moon.
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June 14, 2023 3 mins

Journey through the messy past and uncertain future of America’s national parks. The Washington Post’s Lillian Cunningham ventures off the marked trail to better understand the most urgent stories playing out in five iconic landscapes today.


“Field Trip” is a new podcast series that will transport you to five national parks: Yosemite, Everglades, Glacier, White Sands and Gates of the Arctic. Follow the show wherever you listen.

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To hear the rest of the series, follow “Field Trip” wherever you listen. 


California’s Sierra Nevada is home to a very special kind of tree, found nowhere else on Earth: the giant sequoia. For thousands of years, these towering trees withstood the trials of the world around them, including wildfire. Low-intensity fires frequently swept through groves of sequoias, leaving their cinnamon-red bark scarred but strengthened, and...

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Grenada’s Black revolutionary leader, Maurice Bishop, was executed in a coup in 1983, along with seven others. The whereabouts of their remains are unknown. Now, The Washington Post’s Martine Powers uncovers new answers about how the U.S. fits into this 40-year-old Caribbean mystery.


“The Empty Grave of Comrade Bishop” is an investigative podcast that delves into the revolutionary history of Grenada, why the missing remains stil...

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