The Pulse – June 26, 2015

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    The space race, even in its dullest moments, is pretty darn exciting. It’s a testing ground of ingenuity, physical strength, economic muscle, and political will…and the results are some of humanity’s highest highs and lowest lows. This week, we’ve dedicated the whole show to the topic of space and some of the challenges facing a new generation of galactic explorers.

    Picture a spacecraft resembling a white baby grand piano with a huge satellite dish strapped to its hood traveling 31,000 miles an hour toward the edge of our solar system. It’s called New Horizons, and on July 14, 2015 it will fly past Pluto and its five moons, cameras blazing. Carolyn Beeler reports that researchers hope it will determine once and for all if Pluto is a planet or not.

    We know space as a testing ground for technology like the New Horizons Space Mission, but we seldom think of it as a tool for social change. Turns out, NASA’s entry into the space race was partly driven by the Kennedy Administration’s push to integrate the aerospace industry. Author Richard Paul joins us to discuss this little known front in the Civil Rights battle.

    Hollywood dines out regularly on space disaster films, and the 2013 hit “Gravity” was no exception. In it, a swarm of space debris threatens the lives of astronauts played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. As reporter Todd Bookman discovered, the problem isn’t quite as dramatic as the film makes it out to be, but there’s some truth behind the danger of “space junk.”

    Space colonization is pretty much the cornerstone to any techno-futurist’s fantasy. Elon Musk’s recent pledge to put a million people on Mars by 2100 is a good example. But hold on a minute…colonizing requires reproduction, and one of the true mysteries of space is what happens when humans copulate in gravity dissimilar to that of Earth. Reporter Audrey Quinn takes us on that journey.

    You can’t do a “space show” without space music, right? We’ created a playlist to get you thinking about the cosmos.

    “Rocket scientist” has long been on America’s list of most esteemed jobs. Ever wonder how those folks get hired? Think you might have the right stuff? We talk to a former SpaceX talent recruiter about what it takes to become a player in the modern space race.

    We humans have long wondered if we are alone in this universe, and, believe it or not, there’s an organization whose mission is to find our galactic neighbors. They’re called SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), and reporter Steven Jackson took a tour of their Silicon Valley HQ.

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