Science Goes To The Movies: ‘First Man’
Damien Chazelle’s film First Man reconstructs the personal trials of astronaut Neil Armstrong in the years leading up to his famous first steps on the moon—as well as the setbacks and losses that plagued the U.S. space program along the way. This week in “Science Goes To The Movies,” our panel of space exploration experts weighs in. Is this an authentic story of Apollo 11’s triumphs and costs? And what are the stories Hollywood could tell—about the history of space exploration, or its present—that we haven’t heard yet?
NASA Human Exploration Mission Analysis Lead Nujoud Merancy, Fordham University history professor Asif Siddiqi, and Mashable science editor Miriam Kramer all discuss.
We asked on Twitter about other human space exploration stories you would tell and folks had some great ideas. Keep them coming in the comments below!
Talking to space people about #firstman this week. If you could make a movie about human space exploration, what story would ~~you~~ tell?
— ctaylsaurus the dino ghost of la brea (@ctaylsaurus) October 23, 2018
I really want to write a novel about Laika’s trainer
— Sarah Kaplan (@sarahkaplan48) October 23, 2018
It’s so tragic and momentous and terrible and sad. I just want to know more about the person who loved Laika and had to let her go. Was she mad when she found out that Laika would never come back to Earth? Did it pain her to know the agony of her death?
— Sarah Kaplan (@sarahkaplan48) October 23, 2018
About the early women astronauts that didn’t fly. Or perhaps what would have happened if they did fly.
— Mapperwocky ?⛰⚒ (@cirquelar) October 25, 2018
Has there been one on Brahe and Kepler? Because that would be neat.
— Bear Wizard (@Odan_Bear) October 23, 2018
Dr. Goddard doesn’t seem to have received the recognition he deserves. Good biopic.
— Pug Mahon (@T_shirtSlogans) October 25, 2018
Nujoud Merancy is the Human Exploration Mission Analysis Lead at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Asif Siddiqi is a professor of History at Fordham University in New York, New York, specializing in the history of science and technology.
Miriam Kramer writes the Space newsletter for Axios. She’s based in New York, New York.
IRA FLATOW: This is Science Friday. I’m Ira Flatow.
SPEAKER 1: The most spectacular science shocker ever filmed, too real to be science fiction, now science fact.
IRA FLATOW: Yes, indeed. It’s time for another episode of Science Goes to the Movies. And this week, a time-honored story of a man, a plan, and the moon.
RYAN GOSLING: I don’t know what space exploration will uncover, but I don’t think it will be exploration just for the sake of exploration. I think it’ll be more the fact that it allows us to see things that maybe we should have seen a long time ago but just haven’t been able to until now.
IRA FLATOW: That’s actor Ryan Gosling playing astronaut Neil Armstrong in the new movie First Man. He’s talking about why he wants to be part of the Gemini mission’s astronaut crew, which we’ll later find out lands him as the first human to set foot on the surface of the moon. And we’ve gathered a stellar panel of space nerds to talk about the film, what they liked, and maybe could have been done a little bit differently. Maybe there were some errors in the film. I want to hear from you.
If you could make a movie about space exploration, what story would you want to tell? These are the common stories we hear, the famous ones. What about some unfamous people or famous stories? That could be from the space race or right now, any decade you’re like. Give us a call. Our number is 844-724-8255. 844-SCI-TALK. You can also tweet us @scifri. Let me introduce my guests. Miriam Kramer is science editor at Mashable. Welcome to Science Friday.
MIRIAM KRAMER: Hi. Thanks for having me.
IRA FLATOW: And Nujoud Merancy is a human exploration mission and analysis lead at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Welcome to New York.
NUJOUD MERANCY: Thank you. Good afternoon.
IRA FLATOW: And Asif Siddiqi, he’s a history professor studying space exploration at Fordham University. His most recent book is Beyond Earth– A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration. Nice to have you.
ASIF SIDDIQI: Nice to be here.
IRA FLATOW: Spoiler alert–
That’s it. We’re deep diving into the movie. And that means we’ll be talking about key plot points, including, yes, does Neil Armstrong make it safely back to the moon and back? If you don’t know that by now, we’re going to be giving that away. So if you want to take part, our number 844-724-8255. You can also reach us @scifri. Miriam, let’s start with the review. Thumbs up or thumbs down?
MIRIAM KRAMER: Oh, I loved it.
IRA FLATOW: You loved it.
MIRIAM KRAMER: I’m in the tank for this movie. I really liked First Man. And actually, I’ve said this, it kind of surpassed my previous favorite space movie and is now in the top spot above Apollo 13.
IRA FLATOW: Really? That’s pretty high praise.
MIRIAM KRAMER: Yeah, I really, really enjoyed it. I thought that it was sort of the space movie that we needed in a lot of ways.
IRA FLATOW: Why? What do you mean, we needed? A feel-good movie?
MIRIAM KRAMER: Not so much. More, I really enjoyed the tone of it. Like, I have wanted for a long time for there to be some kind of darker look at space history. And I think that this kind of gave it to us in a lot of different ways from, like, the creaking metal of the ships–
IRA FLATOW: I loved that part.
MIRIAM KRAMER: –as they were launching. I thought it was great. I was– you know, I was wondering if he was going to land on the moon.
IRA FLATOW: You were really inside that tin can as it was– get an idea how the rattling, how much vibration it really was in there.
MIRIAM KRAMER: Exactly. I felt it. And just also looking at the portrayal of masculinity and kind of the way that the whole movie came together around that, I thought was really astute in a lot of ways.
IRA FLATOW: Nujoud, what did you think?
NUJOUD MERANCY: On a personal level, I really enjoyed it. For me, it’s the first-person aspect versus just sort of watching it from the outside. You could really put yourself in the movie. And most of us will never get to fly in space. So getting to actually experience it in a way was really a fun way to have a movie made.
IRA FLATOW: Asif, throughout the film, we see Neil Armstrong as dispassionate, reserved, contained. And that was all part of his engineering mindset. Here’s a clip.
SPEAKER 2: You’re planning on taking some of her jewelry to the moon, Buzz?
COREY STOLL: Sure. What fellow wouldn’t want to give his wife bragging rights?
SPEAKER 2: Neil, will you take anything?
RYAN GOSLING: If I had a choice I’d take more fuel.
IRA FLATOW: I think that’s a real quote of his. You met, Neil, right?
ASIF SIDDIQI: I did. I did. I met him once at a conference. I think the movie really does justice to his character in a way. I like the movie quite a bit. It’s a flawed movie, but it’s a really great movie. I really think this is a movie that captures the other side of the right stuff, so to speak, the engineering, technical backgrounds, and the kind of commitment these guys needed to have beyond just be fighter jocks. And that kind of internal narrative, internal kind of story in this movie about what it took to be an astronaut, I think really is communicated really effectively.
IRA FLATOW: Was he as reserved as you knew him?
ASIF SIDDIQI: Well, I didn’t really– I don’t think I knew him that well. But from what I understand, he was very reserved. But he was not, I think, as perhaps dour as portrayed in the movie. He had a sense of humor. He was a funny guy. But I do think he had a lot of struggles in his life. And as his biographer, Jim Hansen, has talked about, there were some serious struggles in his family life and also with his colleagues in the astronaut office. So I think it’s a bit of both. I think he was a bit perhaps reticent, but I think he was also capable of just chilling out.
IRA FLATOW: You didn’t get that impression too much in the movie.
ASIF SIDDIQI: Not so much in the movie, but I think the movie was focused on those aspects of his career in life that required concentration and diligence.
IRA FLATOW: And Nujoud, you’re an engineer. Did you feel like that was a fair portrayal of any engineer?
NUJOUD MERANCY: I think engineers have a whole variety of personalities. So I think you saw a few different personalities in that movie. And if you looked across a lot of movies, you’d see that there’s fun engineers. There’s very serious ones. There’s ones that are super outgoing. So it’s certainly a fair portrayal because pretty much every personality type exists in engineering.
IRA FLATOW: And one thing that struck me about this film was how jarring and difficult all the scenes of space flight were. There you had Neil is cramped. The launches were teeth-rattling. And it was just disorienting any time we saw people flying. Nujoud, was that realistic to you?
NUJOUD MERANCY: I think there was a lot of realistic aspects that people assume you have this fun, floating feeling. But especially in the Gemini capsules, the Mercury, there wasn’t a lot of room. So you were really crammed in there. The cockpit was right in your face, the control panel. So I think that was a very accurate portrayal. All the switches and gauges are just right there. And then, of course, the rocket rides uphill can be very bumpy. So that was certainly true.
IRA FLATOW: Let’s go to the phones. Andrew in Sarasota, Florida, welcome to Science Friday. Andrew, are you there?
ANDREW: Oh, hi, hi. Sorry. I think I got disconnected there for a moment. Yeah, I was saying, since you happened to mention the Gemini program, we hear a lot about Mercury, and we hear a lot about Apollo, but I feel like the Gemini program is underserved. The first time man stepped out into the void and American did spacewalks, I think that’s a story worth telling.
IRA FLATOW: Thanks for that call. You know, Asif, a lot of people don’t realize in that scene in the movie where he can control the orbiting, the rotation, and he had the right stuff to pull out of that, that’s why he got the first seed you know to go landing on the moon.
ASIF SIDDIQI: Yeah. I think that’s definitely one of the factors that kind of made him much more visible in the astronaut office. There were other candidates for the job. But for sure, the Gemini 8 experience was a really key point. It was a really dangerous mission. And I was just looking up old Life magazines from that month. And it was widely reported at the time as really a kind of an amazing, exciting moment in the space race, a kind of successful failure in that sense, but a fantastic moment, captured really nicely in the movie.
IRA FLATOW: As the one person in the room who remembers that in real time, I can say that it was very, very exciting. The big emotional punch of the story was Neil’s grief over the death of his daughter when she was just two years old and then the loss of the fellow astronauts in the lead-up to Apollo 11 and Apollo 1, whatever. How do you think these human losses shaped history as it played out, Asif?
ASIF SIDDIQI: Well, these things were– I think it’s also communicated in the movie, these fighter pilots, test pilots were very familiar with losses, because they had been at Air Force bases. And many of their colleagues were not making it back home from test flights. So in many ways, they were used to it. But nobody’s really used to losses like that, and especially losing a child is something nobody can really know unless it’s happened to them. But I think those things deeply affected Armstrong to the degree that we can say. And those things were communicated really effectively in the movie, in a way that I thought was really poignant and powerful.
IRA FLATOW: Miriam, we really don’t usually see the personal side of an astronaut in a lot of films. But Apollo 13, we saw some of it. But it was really the heroic victory of getting back.
MIRIAM KRAMER: Right. Yeah, for me, I think a lot of these space films tend to be focused more on sort of what the country is going through or the nationalism aspect of it and the pride that these people bring to the country. But for me, the refreshing part about this movie was that it was really about him. It was really about Neil and his struggle and sort of how in many ways death was kind of haunting him. And that’s something that I don’t think that most people think about when they’re thinking about the early days of the space race or even today, that it is this incredibly dangerous undertaking.
IRA FLATOW: Because we are a lot of engineering geeks around here, we’d like to know about what things the movie got wrong. What do you think, Miriam? The movie– don’t quibble.
MIRIAM KRAMER: I may be the wrong person to ask about this.
IRA FLATOW: A little quibble, maybe? I’ll ask Nujoud and Asif after you. But did anything jump out at you?
MIRIAM KRAMER: I don’t know if anything in particular jumped out. I mean, I would say that final scene, I had a lot of questions about historical accuracy and whether or not he actually could have carried what he carried out to that crater and done what he did at the crater.
IRA FLATOW: Asif, what do you think? What jumps out?
ASIF SIDDIQI: I have to add a caveat. This is a movie. It’s not a documentary. So I wasn’t necessarily vigilant for these kinds of things. But some things stood out. For example, the insides of the spacecraft, like the Gemini spacecraft, looked kind of grimy and dirty. And I think they were really clean. I think that was a directorial choice to depict these things as rickety machines. So there’s kind of aesthetic choices that he made. But I think overall, it’s pretty accurate. There’s little bits and pieces that he missed, for sure. And a lot of space nerds online are busy uncovering all this stuff. But overall, I think it’s pretty accurate.
IRA FLATOW: What do you think of Buzz Aldrin in the film?
ASIF SIDDIQI: Is that a trick question?
IRA FLATOW: [LAUGHS] I’ve known him for years. So I have my own opinion of–
ASIF SIDDIQI: Well, we can say for sure that this was an exaggerated depiction of Buzz Aldrin in the late ’60s. I don’t think he would have said the things he said. But that was a choice, a kind of narrative choice, from the writers. So yeah, there’s not much to say. Obviously, he was he was not like that. But it served the story.
IRA FLATOW: Nujoud, you agree?
NUJOUD MERANCY: I think they did a really good job, especially with the interiors and the window– details down to the window markings that they use for rendezvous and docking were there. So I really enjoyed that accuracy. There was one sort of technical piece that jumped out to me as a mission designer. When they actually did the trans-lunar injection burn, they were pointed at the moon, which means they would have missed it. Because it takes three days to get there. The moon is moving that whole time. You really have to aim in front of the moon by quite a bit. It’s like throwing a football front of the receiver that’s running. And so that one, I kind of chuckled in the theater. But I refrained from commenting for my fellow moviegoers there.
IRA FLATOW: Well, just to someone who watched it in real time when it happened, that was the media. That’s how they portrayed it. They never really showed you the exact trajectories. They just showed you how the thing would circulate around the moon and come back.
Let’s go to Syracuse, New York. Hi, Mark. Welcome to Science Friday.
IRA FLATOW: Hi. Go ahead.
MARK: Well, I remember distinctly watching the landing as an 11-year-old and being so excited in the afternoon to watch the Lem touch down. And then in the morning, at, like, 1:00 in the morning, the spacewalk, as I recall, was moved up a good number of hours. So it was in the middle of the night. I remember waking up my eight-month-old brother and my two-year-old sister, so plopping them in front of the TV on my parents’ bed so that they would be able to have bragging rights for the rest of their life that they actually watched it.
But I was wondering, missing from the movie was the emotional reasons why that was pushed up so much. That, I assume, would give some insight also into Neil Armstrong’s emotions at that moment.
IRA FLATOW: I’m Ira Flatow. This is Science Friday from WNYC Studios. Any reaction about [INAUDIBLE]?
ASIF SIDDIQI: Yeah, from what I remember, the moonwalk was pushed ahead because the guys didn’t want to wait. But this was a small operational decision. But I don’t think it had to do with any kind of particularly emotional issue. They just moved it up.
IRA FLATOW: They were there. Let’s get this–
ASIF SIDDIQI: Yeah. I think they we’re supposed to take a nap, if I remember correctly.
MIRIAM KRAMER: I wouldn’t be able to sleep.
NUJOUD MERANCY: Kind of hard to sleep on the moon.
IRA FLATOW: Well, you’re all here. All my guests are space nerds of some kind. And what did it feel like to see that representation of the landing from the astronauts’ eye view? Miriam, I’m going to go to you first.
MIRIAM KRAMER: I was on the edge of my seat. It was so funny. It was like I knew. I knew he was going to land. We all know he lands. But for some reason, I was just like, oh, gosh, are they going to make it? I was nervous.
IRA FLATOW: Asif?
ASIF SIDDIQI: Yeah, I agree with Miriam. I mean, you know this is going to happen, but it was brilliantly portrayed, I thought, really wonderfully done. You got a sense of what was happening through all the jargon and why Armstrong moved ahead from this crater and what he had to do.
IRA FLATOW: Nujoud?
NUJOUD MERANCY: I think it was a fairly accurate portrayal. My understanding is there were somewhere between 10 and 20 seconds worth of propellant left on the vehicle when they actually touched down. So I’m sure they were on the edge of the seat as they were doing it– or standing. There were no seats. But it was very well portrayed. That was a very high-risk maneuver that Neil was executing.
IRA FLATOW: Yeah. If I remember correctly, following over all the years, was there was chaos going on back home, which I think you didn’t see as much of, because you were in the capsule that much time watching. But the coolness of Neil Armstrong during this whole thing, hand guiding this down, and you see the fuel ticking down. And he’s not panicking. And he’s there. He’s finding a spot. And he puts it down. I mean, it was– they captured that very well.
NUJOUD MERANCY: Absolutely.
ASIF SIDDIQI: Yeah, I agree.
IRA FLATOW: And then the first step off, the famous one small step– he did not say one small step for a man. He said one small step for [MAKING STATIC SOUND] man. Hasn’t there been some controversy about what he really said, Asif?
ASIF SIDDIQI: Yeah. I mean, for years, yeah. But I think we can say that I think that sentiment is more important than the proposition. But yeah, we’re not sure exactly what he said or didn’t say because there was static.
IRA FLATOW: Well, I think he said at some point afterwards that he said it was a man.
ASIF SIDDIQI: Yeah, that was the intention.
IRA FLATOW: That was his intention. And we look back at the space race this time when the nation– and for the Apollo landing, the world was united in one vision. I remember all– and they showed this in the film– I cannot remember another moment since then where the whole world was watching one event together, and it was sort of a unifying experience, Asif.
ASIF SIDDIQI: Yeah, absolutely. I think people forget that there were actually a lot of the Americans who were not as enthusiastic about the space program in the ’60s. But I think that one moment in July ’69– I think there was a kind of a cultural consensus.
IRA FLATOW: And this was one year after what I consider the most terrible year, 1968, I ever have lived through. And then there was to have this kind of event where everybody was sitting united together, because the country was so divided over the war. It feels a little bit like that now, that sort of same feeling. We’re going to take a break and talk more about space travel and talk with my guests here about– maybe if you saw the movie, please let us know. Our number, 844-724-8255. You can also tweet us @scifri. We’ll be right back after this break. Stay with us.
This is Science Friday. I’m Ira Flatow. We’re talking about Neil Armstrong as portrayed in the new movie First Man, from the personal hardships the astronaut overcame to the jarring, dizzying process of astronaut training, to how that story led to all the missions since that unforgettable July night of 1969. My guests are Miriam Kramer, science editor at Mashable, Nujoud Merancy, human exploration mission analysis lead at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Asif Siddiqi, a history professor studying space exploration at Fordham. His most recent book is Beyond Earth– A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration. Our number is 844-724-8255.
We have lots of tweets that came in. Let’s see what we get to just a few of them. Tweet from Glen who says, no one knows how much Russia put the first spacecraft in orbit or the first human. Where did this knowledge come from? How did it really get us into the space race? I asked you at the beginning of the hour to tell us what kind of film you would like to see that hasn’t been made. I think that’s his effort at explaining a film he would like to see.
Let’s go to the phones for another suggestion. Let’s go to Ali in Cleveland. Hi, Ali. Welcome to Science Friday.
ALI: Hi. I love your show. Glad to be on.
IRA FLATOW: Go ahead. Go ahead, Ali.
IRA FLATOW: Yes, go ahead.
ALI: Oh, I would love for some sort of biopic or something to be done about Mae Carol Jemison. There are very few African Americans in space exploration, very few women. And she was the first African-American woman to go into space exploration. And not only that, she just seems like a really cool person to hang out with. I mean, she’s done dancing and acting and was on Star Trek. And she graduated high school at 16. And she was very inspired by the civil rights movement. I just feel like she’s just all around a really multifaceted, fascinating person to do a movie about. And I’d love to see something about her.
IRA FLATOW: Miriam, you’re nodding very much in agreement.
MIRIAM KRAMER: Oh, yeah. Mae Jemison is very cool. I’ve met her a few times. And it’s just always a treat to talk to her about her life.
IRA FLATOW: Can you tell us a little bit about her history at all?
MIRIAM KRAMER: I think pretty much what the caller said is what I know of her. She’s just led a really interesting life filled with a lot of different things from science to the arts.
IRA FLATOW: Nujoud?
NUJOUD MERANCY: On Mae Jemison? Yeah, there’s certainly a lot of background. She flew one of the shuttle flights, early ones for women. And I think there would be a really interesting story to tell there.
IRA FLATOW: Asif?
ASIF SIDDIQI: Yeah, absolutely. I think that would be a amazing story. Her life is amazing.
IRA FLATOW: And there’s a tweet from [INAUDIBLE] that says, how about the early women astronauts who didn’t fly? Or perhaps what would have happened if they did fly? Sounds like an interesting topic. There are all these behind-the-scenes stories, right?
MIRIAM KRAMER: Yeah, there are. I mean, I think that’s the Mercury 13, right? So there, I believe, was some kind of Netflix series about them also, some kind of documentary series that was well-regarded.
IRA FLATOW: Yeah. And all the people who were in that control room and all the other places and all kinds of stories. It’s interesting. This is a movie about the heroics of astronauts nearly 50 years ago. And it’ll be 50 years since the moon landing next summer, which I’m having trouble getting my head around. And we also have Apollo 13. We have The Right Stuff. Why is Hollywood still talking about things that happened 50 years ago when so much has happened since? What do you think?
MIRIAM KRAMER: Yeah. That’s a good question. I think part of it is that Apollo, landing on the moon, that was the big stuff. That was the big stuff that human exploration has done in the last 50 years. I mean, the shuttle was exciting and incredible, but it wasn’t as exciting and incredible as actually going to the moon. So I think that it’s a deep well that people keep coming back to because of that. And that said, I think that there are plenty of stories to be told more in the here and now. I mean, I think the robots should get their due.
IRA FLATOW: Yeah, that’s what I said we were talking about this. I said, there are all those robots. We don’t hear any stories about the trials and tribulations of getting those robots.
MIRIAM KRAMER: Yeah. And there are many of them.
IRA FLATOW: On Mars and other places. Yeah. And you know what, we also don’t hear about any stories of any other countries in the space race. There are so many other– Asif, there are so many countries up there right now.
ASIF SIDDIQI: I mean, there is a story to be told. The tweet about the Russians– I think that would be an epic story to tell about their chief designer and all their travails and difficulties and the space dog, Laika. And there’s many ways to enter into that story. But I would say that it’s not all looking back in the past. If you look at movies like Gravity and The Martian, those are sort of maybe imagining a kind of alternative to these looking-backward movies. I think maybe there is something to be said about the interest in space in general. But I like to believe we’re not just looking back. We’re also imagining the future.
IRA FLATOW: Nujoud, what do they talk about at NASA these days, about?
NUJOUD MERANCY: Well, our big project is actually trying to get back to the moon. So that’s the Orion SLS programs and all of exploration systems development. So really, I think once we can start flying those flights, there will be a whole other crop of stories to be told. And one of the things I’d like to see– I don’t think the general public really understands engineering and how all of these things take to develop. So on a personal level, I think it would be great if someone could figure out how to tell what it takes to actually get to the flight for the astronaut to fly on it.
IRA FLATOW: Ben in Mesa, Arizona, welcome to Science Friday.
BEN: Yes, thank you. My name is Ben. And yeah, I would think it would be interesting to make a film about the Challenger accident from an engineering standpoint. The engineers actually tried to stop the launch, and unfortunately that did not happen. And in the end, it affected them in ways that many people didn’t know. Of course, in fact, it killed the crew, but I think that many of the engineers have a story to tell as well.
IRA FLATOW: Asif, that’s a good point.
ASIF SIDDIQI: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that would be an amazing story. But I think there is a plan to make a movie about the Challenger mission, but focused on the school teacher, Christa McAuliffe. But I imagine the decisions made that day and the day before the launch, which were critical, will be depicted in some fashion in the movie, which were all engineering decisions, and I’m sure will be crucial to understanding the accident.
IRA FLATOW: Nujoud, you mentioned the Orion mission that wants to get us back to the moon. Is it going to be easier because of the lessons we learned from Apollo?
NUJOUD MERANCY: In a word, no. Getting to the moon is just as hard today as it was in the 1960s. I mean, we know a little bit more. We have an experience base of one to draw from. But actually, going to the moon, the mission is going to be just as risky. It’s just it’s hard to do. The amount of prop we need– when Neil said he wished for more prop– I wish for more prop every day, as well. So it’s not any easier getting to the moon. And it’s just as risky the second time around.
IRA FLATOW: I remember after the Apollo missions were canceled, there were three rockets left over. We only went to 17. There was to be 20. I remember going to Houston and seeing them lying on their side. One lying inside, there’s a home for nesting birds. And I never thought there was anything as sad as seeing a Saturn 5 being a home for– it’s nice the birds had a place to nest. But it was the most sad–
NUJOUD MERANCY: Fortunately, it’s in a building now. And it’s been restored.
IRA FLATOW: I know that. I know that has been– couldn’t we just turn that– put it back in the vehicle assembly building and send that back to the moon?
NUJOUD MERANCY: The avionics are quite out of date at this point. I don’t think we can control it anymore.
IRA FLATOW: When– what’s the schedule for that? And do we have enough money? And is it going to be going?
NUJOUD MERANCY: So we’re working to a 2020 flight for the first launch of SLS and really the second launch of Orion. We launched in 2014 for the first flight of Orion. And that’ll be an uncrewed flight. We are going around the moon to a distant retrograde orbit. So it’ll even go way past the moon, about 70,000 kilometers on the far side. And that will be a long mission, just really to shake down all of the vehicle systems on SLS and Orion before we put crew on the next flight. So we’re in progress. We have enough money. And it’s just a challenge getting there.
IRA FLATOW: It’s back to the future.
NUJOUD MERANCY: Yes, indeed.
IRA FLATOW: We did that. I want to thank all of you for taking time to be with us today. It’s going to be the 50th anniversary next year. It’s really amazing. And we’ll all be looking forward to seeing that. Miriam Kramer, science editor of Mashable, Nujoud Merancy, human exploration mission analysis lead at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Asif Siddiqi, a history professor studying space exploration at Fordham University here in the Bronx.
ASIF SIDDIQI: Yes.
IRA FLATOW: His most recent book– proud Bronx– is Beyond Earth– A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration. Thank you all for taking time to be with us today.
MIRIAM KRAMER: Thanks so much.
ASIF SIDDIQI: Thank you. Thanks for having us.