It’s almost weird to say “Outer space is important to me”. I have no personal connection to the stars and planets. I don’t come from a tradition of reading the stars, I don’t have any family members who are astronauts, astronomers, or astrophysicists. Space has always been exciting in the sense of possibility. Now that I’m older, I also think it’s exciting to turn space back into planet Earth. How can looking out help us see the best of what we have here?
Due to my intense curiosity for the stars, space-related podcasts will make me perk up, and Moonrise from The Washington Post is no different. I was scrolling through my podcatcher to find something different to listen to, and while this isn’t out of the realm of my normal, it’s certainly a little different.
We all know the story of The Space Race. The United States won, and it seems now almost an anticlimactic win. Okay, cool. We got to the moon. Now we have more computing power in our pockets than the computers that got us there. Can we be impressed again?
This podcast looks back at The Space Race with more perspective, more creativity, and more unclassified documents than we’ve seen. For full disclosure, Moonrise was released in 2019, and it still holds up four years later. It might even make a tiny bit of a comeback now that we’re nearing the Artemis missions.
Host Lillian Cunningham weaves a history we all think we know like the back of our hands, even those of us who lived through it. However, tales of science fiction, World Wars, and Presidential secrets weave to create a far more fraught story than the sugar coated, triumphant one we’ve come to know. Interviews and excerpts are woven through a calm narration that takes on a literary flare. This is absolutely a gorgeous podcast to listen to in terms of writing, capturing the wonder that people must have felt when humanity was once reaching for the stars.
This podcast is 12 episodes long, each ranging from 40-50 ish minutes. While interspersed with interviews and clips from the past, there is no choppiness to the story or quality. This is a gorgeous glide of audio documentary to listen to. It takes you through history, unflinching in the reality of the past of the Space Agency. It is an exemplar of possibility when it comes to how audio can be rich in imagery without visuals.
There are a few instances of unsettling audio, namely when covering the death of astronauts in the race to the moon. The narration tells you how much to skip when you come to it, but I would have appreciated a warning at the top of the episode rather than during the narration.
Listen to Moonrise Here.
If you like this podcast, consider listening to NASA’S Curious Universe, which I reviewed here.
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