Space Pioneers

We talk with Loren Grush about her new book, “The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts,” which retraces the history of the first American women in space.

Listen 49:07
Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: NASA

In 1978, NASA recruited six candidates out of thousands of applicants for a special, groundbreaking mission: to become the first American women in space. Over the next few years, the six women would endure sexism, grueling training, and unending scrutiny from the media. In her new book, “The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts,” author Loren Grush explores the stories of these female pioneers, along with the longer history of women’s fight for inclusion in the male-dominated world of NASA.

On this episode, we talk with Grush about how America’s first female astronauts came to be, their journeys and challenges, and what kept them committed to their mission. Later, we hear from another space pioneer — a Navajo NASA engineer who says his childhood in Arizona prepared him for his work studying Mars.


  • Few landscapes feel as foreign and desolate as Mars — but not for Aaron Yazzie, a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who was born on the Navajo Nation reservation, and grew up in a small, dusty town in Arizona. We talk with Yazzie about his role in NASA’s mission to Mars, how he draws on his childhood and Native American culture in his work, and why he sees it as carrying on the legacy of his ancestors. Yazzie is featured in a new PBS documentary series called “Native America, Season 2” that comes out this October.

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