"Space," a great man once said, "is the place." Over the centuries, the cosmos have inspired mankind's imagination and innovation, in pursuit of that final frontier. The past few decades, however, have seen a fading of such romantic pursuits, a phenomenon no better illustrated than with the end of NASA's shuttle program. So, where does that put us in 2013? This month, we travel the country in pursuit of an answer, speaking to some of the top minds in the public and private space games.
We kick things off with a profile of LiftPort, a commercial space endeavor operating out of a small garage in rural Washington State that has been funding its dreams of space elevators through crowdfunded Kickstarter campaigns. Next, we head out to Cape Canaveral in Florida, where Swamp Works has set up shop in an old Apollo training facility. NASA scientists will tell us about some of the organization's far-out plans for getting to Mars and back and 3D printing structures on lunar and planetary surfaces once we arrive.
NASA's Tom Rivellini joins us to discuss "seven minutes of terror," and what it takes to land a rover on the surface of Mars. We'll also pay a visit to NASA's Ames facility to discuss why space travel is still important to life on Earth. And while out in the San Francisco Bay Area, we swing by the SETI institute to find out how the organization is actively looking for extraterrestrial life in the universe, including a discussion with SETI founder and developer of the Drake Equation, Frank Drake.
Next up, things get a bit animated with Packing for Mars author Mary Roach, who will discuss the grosser side of manned space travel, while professional prognosticator (and sometimes rock musician) John Roderick kicks off his new reoccurring segment by explaining how space exploration helps him get out of bed in the morning.
We also take a closer look at how the commercial space sector is pushing exploration forward with Google Lunar X Prize senior director, Alexandra Hall, a lunar rover team at Carnegie Mellon, the Space Angels Network VC firm and Laser Motive, which is working on powering crafts through lasers. Then we'll cap things off by speaking to two former movie costume makers who have launched their own commercial space suit companies. Excited? Take one small step with us after the break.