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Dr Alice Gorman

This is the pilot episode of The 9pm Probe, a long-form interview with an interesting person. Today, space archaeologist Dr Alice Gorman aka Dr Space Junk from Flinders University in South Australia.

As some of you may know, I was a bit of an enthusiastic Space Age kid, so this is a very self-indulgent conversation.

We talk about: How the live TV images of the Apollo 11 mission were really quite dull; Vanguard 1, currently the oldest human satellite in space; how civilian and military space programs have always been closely intertwined; citizen science in space; a brief mention of the Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL); CORONA and the movie Ice Station Zebra; the International Geophysical Year (IGY); the International Polar Year; why people get angry about the concept of space archaeology; Australia’s early involvement in the Space Age; the Woomera test range; the Zuni rocket; WRESAT; the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO), the forerunner to the European Space Agency (ESA); rocket playgrounds; Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Rocket Man”; the inevitability of Uranus jokes; the start of the Second Space Age; our shared love of the Soviet technological aesthetic; the cube-sat revolution; the recent launch of rogue satellites; space tourism; Australia’s planned new space agency; SpaceX’s recent work, including firing a Tesla into space; Rocket Lab’s Humanity Star; the live video feed from the International Space Station; the Aboriginal use of bottle glass after European colonisation; and colonial processes in space.

At the end, I also mention the licenses you need to fly a spacecraft.

This episode was recorded on Monday 26 March 2018 at Flinders University.

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ABC logoThe demonstration launch of SpaceX’s Dragon Heavy launch vehicle was for me the highlight of the week. It got some attention elsewhere too, and not just from space geeks.

By complete coincidence, I’d been booked for ABC Melbourne’s regular Wednesday night “Please Explain” spot, with the task of explaining Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX. Here’s the full conversation with Lindy Burns and Declan Fay.


This audio is ©2018 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.