NASA photo of astronaut Mae Jemison suiting up for her historic space shuttle flight, NASA’s first by an African-American woman or woman of color.
NASA photo of astronaut Mae Jemison suiting up for her historic space shuttle flight, NASA’s first by an African-American woman or woman of color.

A Conversation with Dr. Mae Jemison

Dr. Mae Jemison, MD, suiting up for her historic space flight. Photo Credit: NASA.

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About This Episode

On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with former astronaut and Principal of 100 Year Starship, Dr. Mae Jemison, MD. Mae flew on STS-47 and has had an astounding, multidisciplinary career before and after taking her historic trip to space. Find out about her early beginnings on the south side of Chicago. You’ll hear about Mae’s tough decision between becoming a doctor or becoming a professional dancer, and you’ll learn about the advice she received from her mother that helped her with the decision. Discover more about Mae’s time spent in Africa in the Peace Corps and how it helped her understand things about herself.

We explore Mae’s journey into space and why she was irritated when she first joined the astronaut program. Neil and Mae  share why the end of the shuttle program seemed more emotional than the end of the Gemini program. Mae tells us why humans aren’t on Mars yet – and it’s not because of technological limitations.

Explore 100 Year Starship and their mission “to make the capability of human travel beyond our solar system a reality within the next 100 years.” You’ll learn how missions like these can inspire innovation, like President Kennedy’s promise to land on the moon. We look at some of the problems that face humans undertaking interstellar space travel, including sustainability, energy, and more. We discuss Mars and it’s “lack of difficulty.” All that, plus, Neil and Mae reflect on childhood school field trips and why science is better taught hands-on.

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