Episode 67 : Technik Museum Speyer

This episode is a preview of some of the space related exhibits in Europe’s largest aerospace museum – Speyer Technik Museum, in Germany. If you ever go and the following may entice you to do so,  four space exhibits to look out for include the following: Soyuz TM19 – The landing capsule Soyuz TM-19 was […]

Episode 66: Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre

November 21st 2013 was the 50th anniversary of a rocket launched from India in to space. The launch itself was an all Indian affair but with lots of international support. The rocket was American, carried a French Sodium Vapour payload with assisted by a computer and a helicopter from the Soviet Union. From this meagre […]

Episode 65: ISRO – The early years

The Indian Space Research Organisation formally came in to being in 1972. By then, India had been developing its space program for almost a decade. The first launch to space from Indian soil was a two stage Nike-Apache rocket supplied by USA with a  sodium  payload from France. The rocket delivered a vertical trail of sodium […]

Episode 64: Bangalore Astronomical Society

  Another episode in the current series about space and India. Bangalore Astronomical Society (BAS) is probably the most industrious astronomical societies in India. Founded in 2006, it has nearly 200 paid up members based in and around Bangalore but a huge number of national and international followers online. In this episode, BAS president Naveen Nanjundappa, […]

Episode 63 – Rakesh Sharma India’s first and only spaceman

With a population of 1.2 billion people, India has just one national with first hand experience of spaceflight. Rakesh Sharma, a now retired Indian Air Force wing commander in 1984 spent eight days in space aboard the Soviet space station Salyut 7. This account of his spaceflight was recorded at this home in the Nilgris […]

Episode 62 – Vikram Sarabhai

Vikram Sarabhai  is unanimously accepted across India as the “father” of its space program. Not really known well outside India, he died suddenly and prematurely at age of 52 in 1971. He had studied cosmic ray physics and gained his PHD from Cambridge in 1947 the same year India became an independent nation.  He spent […]

Episode 61: Reg Turnill on Wernher von Braun

Like so many in the “space community” I was saddened to hear of the passing of Reg Turnill. He was  the BBC’s aerospace correspondent but is  best known  for covering the American Space program  throughout the 60s and 70s that he documents so well in his book Moonlandings: An eye witness account. He was the […]

Episode 60: Square Kilometre Array

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a global science and engineering project to build a revolutionary new radio telescope with extraordinary scientific ambitions. With funding from ten nations the building of the SKA will start in 2016 and be fully operational in 2024. It will tackle some of the profoundest questions of cosmology associated with […]

Episode 59: Astrophotograpy

If you have ever been to London and used the underground Tube service, it may well have been driven by the speaker in this episode. That is his day job but Nik Szymanek  is one of Britain’s best known astrophotographers. This interview was recorded during National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Manchester in 2012. […]

Episode 58: Astronauts Joe Engle and Ron Garan

The first  interview in this episode is with astronaut Joe Engle was recorded during his visit to the UK in 2008.   Joe Engle was at the front of the queue  to go to the Moon when NASA cut its Apollo program. His place was taken by the geologist Harrison Schmitt on Apollo 17 – the last manned […]

Episode 57: 15 October 2012 – Cassini Huygens Mission

Launched 15 years ago today, the Cassini Huygens mission has been one of the outstanding successes of solar system exploration and a model of NASA ESA collaboration. In episode 14 Professor John Zarnecki spoke about the science conducted from the surface of Titan by the Huygens lander in January 2005. The European Space Agency’s Huygens probe had […]

Episode 55: 4 August 2012: Mars Curiosity Rover

Since the mid 1970s six spacecraft (Viking 1 & 2, Sojourner, Opportunity, Spirit and Phoenix)  have successfully landed on the surface of Mars. In probably the most audacious, breathtaking and risky space missions, in less than two days, another  Mars Curiosity Rover will arrive on Mars. Using a technique never used before, NASA has described […]

Episode 54: 23 July 2012 – Manchester Interplanetary Society and Stanley Davis

The August 2012 edition of Spaceflight, the monthly magazine from the British Interplanetary Society carried an article where I discuss the Northwest of England’s contribution in Rocketry during the 1930s. An extended version of that article is available for free download on Astrotalkuk.org – here. So on to today’ episode. In 1937, two teenagers Harry […]

Episode 53: 28th June 2012 – The Chinese Space program

Brian Harvey is a Dublin based writer, author, broadcaster and probably the most informed specialist on Chinese and Soviet/Russian space program in Ireland today. This conversation recorded during the Shenzhou-9 / Tiangong-1 mission orbiting the Earth with the three crew including the first Chinese female astronaut on-board. At the end of the interview Brian Harvey talks about the Space Cooperation Memorandum signed last week.

Episode 52: 7th June 2012: Michael Wood Historian and Gagarin’s visit to Manchester

Historian Michael Wood’s documentary, The Great British Story – A People’s History, is currently being screened in the UK. Michael is from Manchester and was visiting Liverpool last weekend where he made time for this recording.

Episode 51: 5th June 2012: Profile – Author David Shayler

You know what it is like, you buy a book on a subject of interest and enjoy it. Later you see a book on a similar subject that you probably were not going to buy but do so because it is from that same author. Gradually, you end up with several books from that author in your collection.

David Shayler is one such author for me. During the Space Day event in Droitwich earlier this year organised by British Interplanetary Society West Midlands branch, I finally got to meet David. This is a short recording of our conversation I recorded then.

Episode 50: 26th March 2012: Manchester first Rocket Scientists

Robert Goddard in America , Sergei Korolev in the Soviet Union and Herman Oberth in Germany are three names credit with the development of rocket propulsion during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Each led a very small group with more dedication then resources working on a shoestring budget usually in their own time after work. Their […]

Episode 49: 17th March 2012: National Astronomy Meeting 2012

This episode has no specific astronomical topic but draws attention to a very special astronomy meeting later this month. The Royal Astronomical Society’s annual National Astronomy Meeting last year was held in Wales, next year it will be in Scotland but this year it is in Manchester. National Astronomy Meeting 2012 or NAM2012 will be hosted by the University of Manchester in partnership with Germany’s equivalent to the RAS, the Astronomische Gesellschaft in the last week of March 2012.

Episode 48: 13th February 2012: Mat Irvine, early BBC Special Effects Department and Sky at Night episode from 1963

The same year that the first woman made it in to space in 1963, a quaint children’s sci-fi series called Dr Who started on BBC television in the UK.  Eventually it became popular around the world and has enjoyed success once more since it restarted again in 2005. Mat Irvine worked in the special effects […]

Episode 47:25th July 2011: Yuri Gagarin Statue in London

Links to audio and video below. The 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s UK visit was marked by the unveiling of an aluminium statue of Gagarin, an exact copy of the one outside Lyubertsy Technical School number 10 where Gagarin started his training as a foundryman. The statue, a gift from the Russian federal space agency […]

Episode 46:10th July 2011: Yuri Gagarin in London and Manchester. New Book and Personal recollections

On his first visit outside the eastern bloc, Yuri Gagarin arrived in London for a 5 day visit on Tuesday July 11th 1961. He was greeted with a tumultuous and sincere warm welcome everywhere he went including his meetings with the Prime minister and the Queen. The British government juggled with acknowledging Gagarin personal courage […]

Episode 45: 4th July 2011: Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot Al Worden

Probably the most scientifically demanding Apollo mission, Apollo 15 was launched on 26th July 1971 on a two week mission. Al Worden in the command module orbited the Moon for 75 orbits whilst Dave Scott and James Irwin explored the south eastern edge of Mare Imbrium on the Moon’s surface.  Apollo 15 launched with the […]

Episode 44: 15th May 2011: First Orbit and Manchester’s Yuri Gagarin Exhibition

Another Yuri Gagarin episode, I know the anniversary of the world’s first spaceflight is over but there is still lots going on over the next few months. There are two contributors in this episode, Chris Riley and Richard Evans. One of the most successful projects to mark the anniversary is the film First Orbit. The […]

Episode 43 April 18th 2011: Apollo 12 and Captain Richard Gordon

Scroll down for the audio and video. 1969 is remembered for the unique event in history, Apollo 11 and the first men, Neil and Buzz on the surface of the Moon. Before the year was out, another three men headed the same way. On November 19th, Pete Conrad and Alan Bean precision landed Apollo 12 […]

Episode 42: April 12th 2011: Rare video of Yuri Gagarin in Manchester

Scroll down for the audio and video. On a cold bright Wednesday morning fifty years ago in the Soviet town of  Turatam, a rocket launched a man into space. A critical initial step for any civilisation that eventually travels to the stars. Any first is both special and trivial. Special because by definition it only […]

Episode 41: April 9th 2011: Yuri Gagarin and Reg Turnill

Scroll down for the audio and video. Reg Turnill joined the BBC in 1956 with the remit to cover aviation and defence. The launch of Sputnik 1 in the following year expanded his remit to include space. He is particularly well known for his coverage of the American Apollo program. In the UK, his name […]

Episode 40: April 2nd 2011: Gagarin in London : Captain Eric Brown

Scroll down for the options to play audio and video. On the third of Gagarin’s five days in Britain, immediately following his meeting with Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, on Thursday 13th July 1961,  he had the only private meeting of his visit with Captain Eric Brown where the press was not invited, no photographs were […]

Episode 39: March 19th 2011: Spacecraft Operations

Scroll to the bottom for the audio and video. Since the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, thousands of unmanned spacecraft have been launched, mostly to Earth orbit, but many have gone to the inner and outer planets, and four of them have pretty much left the Solar System altogether. European Space Agency’s Mars Express […]

Episode 38: January 23rd 2011: Want to be an Astronaut? Book a ticket online

Scroll to the bottom of this post to play the audio or watch the video. Going in to space was nothing more than a dream for many of us for such a long time. But things are changing profoundly and fast. Once human spaceflight was only possible as part of a national government project. Then […]

Episode 37: November 21st 2010 : Progress of Science through the Ages

Scroll to the bottom of this post to play the audio. On November 3rd this year, Professor Jim Al-khalili was to give three lectures in Liverpool on the same day (Quantum Physics, Advances in Mathematics in Medieval Islam and On the Shoulders of Eastern Giants: the Forgotten Contribution of the Medieval Physicists). I did feel […]