In Case You Missed It/Podcast: Retelling the Story of the Mission to the Moon

Image: Chesley Bonestell art printed in “The Conquest of the Moon” (1953). Mr. Bonestell’s art is mentioned in the Moonrise podcast.

If you are looking for a good story that you to listen to during your next car trip, you cannot do better than the Washington Post’s Moonrise podcast. It has a bit of everything, including science fiction stories, Nazi war machines, Russian persecution, American post-WWII politics, and a bit of astronomy as well.

Here is how the program sells itself:

Want to uncover the real origin story behind the United States’ decision to go to the moon? In the 50 years since the moon landing, as presidential documents have been declassified and secret programs revealed, a wild story has begun to emerge. “Moonrise,” a Washington Post audio miniseries hosted by Lillian Cunningham, digs into the nuclear arms race of the Cold War, the transformation of American society and politics ⁠— and even the birth of science fiction ⁠— to unearth what really drove us to the moon. Come along with us on a fascinating journey from Earth to the moon.

You can learn how President Kennedy tried to get the Soviet Union to join the Apollo program – twice. You can also hear about the Apollo 11 mission competing with a Soviet spacecraft trying to land on the Moon at the same time. And have you heard about the civil rights protests at the Apollo 11 launch site?

The podcast is a well crafted story trying to weave together many threads in a mostly successful way. It is still astonishing that the early Space Race was really lead by a former Nazi representing the United States and a former political prisoner representing the Soviets. Today the Apollo story is mostly a warm blur from the past, but I believe it is worth your time to listen to the full story. It is the foundation of our space exploration efforts, for better or worse.