A collection of radio documentary programmes broadcast on the BBC World Service, with one thing in common – space. More
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What is the future of space flight? With a successful Nasa landing on Mars and more commercial space travel in development than ever before, astronautical engineers are taking us into a new age. From lift off to landing, rapid innovations are radically changing what's possible and bringing us much closer to outer space. Presenter Kevin Fong meets Adam Steltzner, Nasa's chief engineer for the 2020 Mission to Mars, Anuradha TK, Geosat programme director for the Indian Space Research Organisation and David Parker, director of Human and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency.
10, 9, 8, 7: Four Apollo missions
Taking place over just eight months, four perilous and eventful space missions laid the foundations for a successful Moon landing. Each pushed the boundaries of technology and revealed new insights into our own planet. As we count down to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, astronaut Nicole Stott tells the story of the build-up to mankind’s giant leap.
How Do We Rule The Universe?
Governing moon miners, asteroid hunters and space junk sounds pretty tricky, but we better get our act together. This year the majority of space launches included commercial enterprises. Space is no longer just the playground of governments but companies; companies that want to mine the moon for water that they could sell as rocket fuel, companies that want to mine the moon for helium -3 which could be sold and used as energy back on earth and companies that want to mine asteroids for platinum that they could sell for huge profits. But is this legal?
The First Woman on the Moon
If history had been kinder, aviator Wally Funk might have become the first woman on the Moon. In the early 1960s, she was one of 13 female pilots who passed the same physical tests as the Mercury 7 astronauts. Unfortunately her chance never came and no one has walked on the Moon since 1972, after the cancellation of the Apollo space programme. But today, space agencies and commercial companies around the world are preparing to return to the lunar surface and Wally meets the scientists and entrepreneurs trying to make this a reality.
Voyager 1 and 2: Still operating after 40 years in the depths of space. Voyager 1 is currently some 20 billion kilometres from Earth travelling at 15.5 kilometres a second. It takes 19 hours for a signal from the spacecraft's 20 watt transmitter to reach home. Voyager 2 is 17 billion kilometres away and will soon leave the Solar System.
Launched in 1977, the twin spacecrafts have explored the giant planets and their strange moons, investigated the boundary of the Solar System and changed how we see our place in the Universe. The probes even carry a message for aliens in the form of a golden record.
Retired NASA astronaut Ron Garan meets many of the original team still working on the mission, nursing the twin spacecraft through their final years.
Photo: The Voyager 2 spacecraft passes by Saturn in 1981 Credit: NASA