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Destination Moon


Broadcast: June 30, 2019 at 4 p.m. 

On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon. They had reached the distant  light that humans had admired and looked up to for thousands of years. It was a mission with hundreds of dedicated minds behind it. A dangerous and ambitious mission, that could have failed at many moments. This special episode explores the science that got us to the moon, the politics that push space exploration, and our relationship with the moon. Also - how people around the country remember and celebrated the moon landing.  


A fragile daisy chain of events
During a recent panel discussion, Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins called their mission a “fragile daisy chain of events” that could have gone wrong at any moment. And it almost did, several times. We look more closely into one especially difficult aspect of getting to the moon: the landing. Space journalist Andrew Chaikin describes the challenges and errors that almost ended the mission.

The science of the Apollo program
Eric Ward from the Linda Hall Library talks about the moon rock they currently have on display, and why this aspect of the Apollo missions was so important to our understanding of the moon’s origins. Astronomer Jackie Faherty from the Museum of Natural History weighs in on the moon being the perfect place to learn more about the universe.

Kids and space exploration
What can legos teach kids about the challenges of space exploration? We visit with kids in Houston, Texas, and find out how they view the moon landing - and the technology available at the time.

The politics of space exploration
Science and technology got us to the moon, but the spark that got things going was politics. Politics and space exploration have had a long and complicated history. Priorities change, funding dries up. We explore how NASA adapts to changing administrations, and changing expectations.

The future of space exploration
Former rocket scientist Poppy Northcutt was in the control room during Apollo missions, and says it’s “bittersweet” to look back on those days. She’s proud of all that was achieved, but sad that we didn’t keep pushing on. She makes a case for returning to the moon - and going on to Mars.

Produced by: The Pulse Specials / WHYY

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