June 20, 2015 1:28 pm

Sunday’s podcast about NASA and the Hubble is “Experts Only”

Photo of NASA Administrator Charles Bolden from when he was the commander of the Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-60. Credit: NASA.

Mission Commander Charles Bolden on the flight deck of the Space Shuttle Discovery during STS-60. Credit: NASA.

What do you think of when you imagine the “Administrator of NASA?” A stuffed shirt, political hack appointee, with no street cred or experience?

That is not the case with Charles Bolden.

He flew more than 100 combat missions in an A-6 Intruder in the Viet Nam war.

He joined the NASA astronaut corps in 1980, one of Nichelle Nichols “discoveries” when she was asked by NASA to find talented candidates in underrepresented groups like women and people of color. (Her other recruits included Dr. Mae Jemison and Col. Guion Bluford, respectively the first African American woman and man in space. You can listen to Nichelle tell Neil deGrasse Tyson all about it here.)

Major General Bolden flew on 4 Space Shuttle missions:

  • STS-61C – Pilot, Columbia
  • STS-31 – Pilot, Discovery
  • STS-45 – Commander, Atlantis
  • STS-60 – Commander, Discovery

If STS-31 stands out in your memory, it should: it was the mission to launch the Hubble Space Telescope, which is one of the main subjects of Sunday’s podcast.

Major General Bolden returned to active duty with the Marines for a spell, including serving as Commanding General, I MEF (Forward) in support of Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait in 1998, eventually retiring from the military in 2004.

In other words, Bolden is a real deal flyboy, a pilot who flew his way to the top of the ladder. This is the kind of guy anyone would agree has “the right stuff.”

When he talks about where NASA has been, where it is now, and where it’s going, you know he’s not just blowing hot air.

He’s not the only legitimate expert on Sunday’s podcast.

We’ve also got Dr. Michael Shara, currently the Department of Astrophysics Curator at the American Museum of Natural History. But earlier in his career, Mike spent 17 years at the Space Telescope Science Institute, where he and his fellow scientists devoted much of their careers to interpreting and learning from the data we got back from the Hubble Space Telescope, expanding our understanding of our universe using “the most productive scientific instrument ever made.”

But that’s still not all.

Instead of our usual comic co-hosts, this week that duty is being tackled for the first time by Bill Nye, a mechanical engineer by trade who worked on the development of the Boeing 747, arguably one of the most successful and important passenger jets in history. Bill holds multiple patents, developed a piece of equipment used on the Mars Rovers and currently serves as the CEO of the Planetary Society, the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted to the exploration of space, which most recently completed a successful test flight of their crowdfunded LightSail spacecraft.

Oh, and of course our host is astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, author of over two dozen books and scientific research papers and winner of the 2015 Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.

Like we said, this Sunday it’s experts only.

Join us Sunday, June 21 at 7:00 PM EDT on our website, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and SoundCloud.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons

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