The Hybrid Wing Body H-Series future aircraft design concept comes from the research team led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Hybrid Wing Body H-Series future aircraft design concept comes from the research team led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Flying Cars & Pilotless Planes with NASA Engineer, Wendy Okolo, PhD.

NASA/MIT/Aurora Flight Sciences, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

How would it be different flying on Mars? Neil deGrasse Tyson and comedian Matt Kirshen explore aeronautics, aerodynamics, airplanes and more with NASA aerospace engineer and author Wendy Okolo, PhD.

What does the first A in NASA stand for? What does it mean to be an engineer? Wendy breaks down how engineers think and what her role at NASA is. Discover how systems of systems surround our lives. What are the main challenges of moving through the air? We discuss aerodynamics, what flying on Mars would be like, and the impact of climate change on aeronautics.

Why don’t we fly commercial planes higher? What is a blended wing aircraft? We explore optimization, propulsion, how to achieve aircraft stability, and Wendy’s book Learn to Fly: On Becoming a Rocket Scientist.

Could you one day get a license for flying like you do for driving? What is the future of flying cars? Could we one day have self-driving space vehicles? We also discuss autonomy in flight and the safety concerns of handing over aircraft to artificial intelligence. Are computers safer than humans?

Thanks to our Patrons David Hemsath, Becky Basmadijian, Etopirynka aka. Kate, Jaime Parker, Liuba Tereshko, Jeremy Seeman, and Carol Flynn for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

In This Episode

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