Cosmic Queries: The Space Race

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. photographed on the moon on July 20, 1969) by Neil A. Armstrong. Credit: NASA.

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About This Episode

What did politics and the Cold War have to do with the space race? On the flip side, how did the Apollo program and landing on the Moon impact us here on Earth? Neil deGrasse Tyson, our host and the author of Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, answers fan-submitted questions chosen by co-host Chuck Nice about the Apollo program, landing on the Moon, and so much more. Explore whether John F. Kennedy’s role in pushing for a lunar landing was more important than the geopolitical realities of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Neil explains how going to the Moon influenced our relationship with our home planet, coinciding with the first Earth Day, the passing of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the founding of NOAA and the EPA, the banning of DDT and leaded gasoline. Discover how comparing samples of lunar soil and minerals to terrestrial samples helped us discover that the Moon is the result of a collision by a Mars-sized protoplanet with Earth’s crust. Neil and Chuck also discuss conspiracy theorists who deny that we’ve even landed on the Moon, and the reported incident where Buzz Aldrin punched a denier in the face. You’ll hear whether Neil feels we could have better spent some of the money for the Apollo program on other types of space exploration, and also who he thinks “won” the space race. Plus, you’ll learn about plans to mine the Moon for Helium-3, and find out what cosmic event Neil would want to witness if he could travel back in time.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here:  Cosmic Queries: The Space Race.

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  • babby660

    I just loved Tang but can’t seem to find it anymore. Is it still made?

  • Well actually…

    People were thinking of miniaturizing electronics long before NASA. TR-1s, a small transistor radio hit the market November of 1954. NASA was formed in 1958. And miniaturization efforts were going on long before that. See

  • Pikachu

    To be fair, the man Buzz punched was harassing him and wouldnt get out of his walk way after he and his assistant told him repeatedly to stop, he wasnt just punching him for his ignorance.

  • matt

    Chuck & Neil always have the best chemistry – and their shows are by far, always the best, in quality, information and entertainment.

  • Eric McLoughlin

    The minauturisation of electronics was driven, as Neil suggests, by trying to pack as much as possible onto the top of rockets. In most cases, these were Intercontintental Ballistic Missiles rather than space rockets, however.

    • Military missile makers and NASA accelerated the process but miniaturization of electronics was already well underway. The TR-1, a small transistor radio, hit the market in 1954. NASA was formed in 1958. The transistor was first conceived in 1926 and first practically implemented in 1947.

  • Jeff M

    Chuck & Neil are a pleasure to find on my weekly podcasts. Chucks ads are even entertaining!

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