Welcome to the first series of our podcast Live from the Space Shed! Hosted by UNSA’s Director of Human Spaceflight Jon Spooner and UNSA’s first astronaut Mini Jon.

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13 …with Al Worden

For this episode we were at New Scientist Live 2019 as their “performance stage”, hosting workshops, talks and interviews with some of the UK’s leading scientists and researchers. One of the (many) highlights was hosting an interview and Q&A with astronaut Al Worden who piloted the Apollo 15 command module to The Moon in 1971. We’re releasing this episode for International Podcast Day to celebrate Al’s life after he passed away earlier this year. 2020 really hasn’t pulled any punches, eh?

In this episode Al and Jon chat about:

• his astronaut training
• his Guinness World record
• his favourite sci-fi films
• his relationships with other Apollo astronauts
• why at 87 years old he still considered himself the best crew member for a mission to Mars

and he answers questions from the New Scientist Live audience.

Al’s legacy feed on Twitter @WordenAlfred
Website alworden.com
The Al Worden “Endeavour Scholarship”

12 …with Maddie Moate

For this episode we were on campus at the University of Warwick’s Family Day for the British Science Festival with Maddie Moate – a YouTube filmmaker, BAFTA winning presenter and the host of the BAFTA nominated CBeebies series “Do You Know?”, BBC Earth’s “Earth Unplugged”and CNBC’s technology series “The Cloud Challenge”. Maddie and Jon know each other from the CBeebies Christmas Show that Jon directs.

In this episode we chat about:

• the CBeebies Christmas show
• how Maddie started out on YouTube
• why ‘Curiosity’ is so important
• Maddie’s favourite episodes of ‘Do You Know’
• her travelling adventures across the world
• Elephant poo

Maddie does a live biscuit review and answers questions including:

• where do you live?
• how do you choose what to make episodes of Do You Know about?
• which factories are your favourites?
• do you ever get tired?
• what is your favourite book?
• what is your favourite planet?
• what is your favourite giraffe?

Maddie on Instagram @maddiemoate
Maddie on Twitter @maddiemoate
Website maddiemoate.com

Full transcript here

11 …with Professor Jacqueline McGlade

Jacqueline is currently a professor at Gresham College, University College London and the Maasai Mara University in Kenya where she also lives having married a Maasai chief. Previously chief scientist of the United Nations environment programme and executive director of the European Environment Agency, Jacqueline is passionate about community science and natural prosperity, open data and earth observation. She is one of the most extraordinary humans I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. 

In this episode we’re coming to you from New Scientist Live and we chat about:
• how to get politicians and governments to “do the right thing”
• her sustainable life with the Maasai in rural Kenya
• how we can all, like the Maasai, adapt our lives to cope with the effects of climate change

and Jacqueline answers questions including:

• is climate change going to make humans extinct by 2100?
• how much rain do you get in the village where you live?
• what advice would you give to any young people wanting to get involved in fighting climate change?
• how badly will climate change affect the Earth?
• how does climate change affect plants?
• how many trees do we need to plant to stop climate change?
• should we all go vegan?
• what can we all do to get governments to ACT on climate change?

Jacqueline on Twitter @jacquelineMcgl8
Jacqueline on Facebook jacqueline.mcglade.1

Full transcript here

10 …with Dr Louisa Ashley

For this episode we’re back in the Faraway Forest at Latitude Festival with poet, lawyer, international human rights activist and founding member of Unlimited Theatre Dr Louisa Ashley.


In this episode Louisa and Jon chat about:
• Louisa’s ‘career journey’ from experimental theatre maker to Head of Law at Leeds Beckett University
• chocolate’s relationship to climate change
• “Ecofeminism” and what it is
• poetry and conflict resolution
• how art can help us deal with the emotional responses to climate change

Louisa also reads some of her poems and answers questions including:
• how can chocolate be good for the environment?
• what is *the* answer?
• what is going on in Yemen?
• are there any countries in the world that are shining examples for human rights?

Louisa on Twitter @LouisaAshley16

Full transcript here

9 …with Harpreet Kaur Paul

For this episode we were on campus at the University of Warwick as part of the British Science Festival with lawyer and climate justice activist Harpreet Kaur Paul.

In this episode Harpreet and Jon chat about:
• what “climate justice” is
• what the real effects of climate change are right now
• how human rights laws can help with fighting climate change
• why direct action (protest) is important
• what can we best do as individuals?

and answers questions including:
• should my school start selling bottled water?
• how did you get into this line of work?
• what are the best ways to do “carbon offsetting”?

Harpreet on Twitter @HarpreetKPaul

Full transcript here

8 …with Dr Alice Bell

For this episode we were in The Faraway Forest at Latitude Festival with Dr Alice Bell – a climate activist and historian and the co-director of climate charity 10:10 (recently rebranded as Possible)

In this episode Alice and Jon chat about:

• the best words to describe the climate crisis/breakdown/emergency
• why keeping global heating to 1.5degrees is so important
• why it’s good to talk about how scary this all is
• what we can all do to combat climate change
• why individual (as well as collective) action is useful

and answers questions including:

• do we have to STOP flying entirely?
• will it get so hot in the UK that we will have to close schools?
• how can we reduce food waste?
• what is the most important thing that we should all do?
• is it true that LED lights are bad for you?
• is it bad for wildlife if we build solar and wind farms in fields?
• should we do meat free Mondays?
• should we eat the rich?

Alice also came back later that day to DJ a ‘climate inspired’ set. Spotify playlist here: songs for a changing climate – Space Shed edit (67 minutes) and the 200 minute ‘long train journey edit’ is here

Alice on Twitter @alicebell

Full transcript here

Alice Bell during DJ set at Latitude Festival 2019

7 …with Chaitanya Kumar

For this episode we were in London at the Great Exhibition Road Festival with Chaitanya Kumar – a climate activist and senior policy advisor for the Green Alliance and previously with 350.org – on one of the hottest days of 2019.

In this episode Chaitanya explains:

• why climate change is such a huge problem
• what the UK is doing to combat climate change
• what we as a society (rather than individuals) need to do to fight climate change
• what a positive (rather than ‘doom and gloom’) future could be like if we all act

and answers questions including:

• apart from planting trees, what else can we do to use our land better and suck carbon out of the atmosphere?
• how will we heat our homes without gas boilers?
• is it true that if we don’t fix this problem the planet will go into the thermal runaway?
• why haven’t I heard these facts before?!


Full transcript here

Chaitanya on Twitter @chaitanyakumar
Green Alliance website green-alliance.org.uk

Jon Spooner & Chaitanya Kumar at the Great Exhibition Road Festival 2019

6 …with Rupert Read + Extinction Rebellion

For this episode we were back in the Faraway Forest at Latitude Festival with Rupert Read representing for Extinction Rebellion. Rupert is an Associated Professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, an author, a blogger, and – most passionately – a climate and environmental campaigner. Throughout 2019 he has frequently been a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion and is a member of their political liaison team, meeting with senior politicians from across the political spectrum. He has represented Extinction Rebellion on national radio and television, including on Radio 4’s Today Program and on the BBC’s Politics Live. On this occasion, Rupert found himself in a Shed, in a forest, being interviewed by a man wearing an orange spacesuit and too much glittery eyeliner.

In this episode Rupert explains:

• why space travel is terrible for the planet
• how space travel and science fiction can help us save the planet
• why civilisation is likely to collapse because of climate breakdown
• what ‘civilisation collapse’ even is
• how Extinction Rebellion is leading the fight to prevent climate breakdown and civilisation collapse
• what each of us can do to get involved and fight climate breakdown

and answers questions including:
• what should corporations be doing to prevent climate breakdown?
• isn’t the UK doing loads already? Isn’t it other countries that need to step up?
• how do we fight this while we have powerful leaders like Donald Trump who don’t believe in climate change?
• why does the UK media not highlight this problem ALL THE TIME?
• how do you talk to people who aren’t yet committed to fighting climate breakdown?
• what is your view on whether or not Extinction Rebellion should target Heathrow?
• when will I be able to afford to change my boiler?

All of which was excellently stimulating (and occasionally terrifying) fun.


Full transcript here

Rupert on Twitter @GreenRupertRead
Rupert’s website rupertread.net
Rupert’s viral video with more than 250,000 views This Civilisation is Finished: so what is to be done?
Jon with Rupert Read at Latitude 2019

5 …with Dr Alex Amon

For this episode we were outside the Great North Museum: Hancock as part of the Great Exhibition of the North with cosmologist and dark matter explorer Dr Alex Amon. At the time, Alex was just completing her PhD at the Institute for Astronomy in Edinburgh – for which she has recently been awarded the prestigious Royal Astronomical Society thesis prize. Alex is super cool.

In this episode Alex explains:
• What dark energy and dark matter are and how you find it
• what “gravitational lensing” is
• how space telescopes work
• how to get a job looking at galaxies
• her new project looking for “killer asteroids”
and answers questions including:
• what will happen when the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies collide?
• what even is the Milky Way anyway?
and Alex tells us why stars are boring…

Full transcript here


Alex on Twitter @astroalexamon
Alex’s excellent article Shedding Light  on the Dark Universe

l-r: Flight Dynamics Office Simon Perkins, Flight Director Luca Rutherford, Dark Matter Explorer Dr Alex Amon, Director of Human Spaceflight Jon Spooner

4 …with Abbie Hutty

Coming to you again from the Faraway Forest at Latitude Festival, this time with space engineer Abbie Hutty. For the last seven years she has been working as the lead structures engineer on the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover that is scheduled for launch to the red planet in 2020. Also, Jon makes an utter hash of trying to launch the Space Shed. Bear with him!

In this episode Abbie and UNSA’s Director of Human Spaceflight Jon Spooner talk about

• How she became a space engineer
• Why she’s building a rover to go to Mars
• Why she’s confident about finding new life forms on Mars

and answers questions on

• what sort of life she’s expecting to find there
• What her favourite planet is and why
• what inspired her to work in the space industry
• how she responds to people who believe the Earth is flat

Full transcript here


Abbie on Twitter @a_hutty
ExoMars website

3 …with Professor Jon Butterworth

Another conversation from the Faraway Forest at Latitude Festival with particle physicist Professor Jon Butterworth. Jon works on the Large Hadron Collider’s ATLAS experiment at CERN. Not sure what any of those things are? No problem! Jon describes them and his work brilliantly.

In this episode Jon (Butterworth) and UNSA’s Director of Human Spaceflight (other) Jon (Spooner) talk about:
• what particle physics even is
• why it is worth dedicating your life to physics
• Jon B’s 5 billion year old wedding ring
• what CERN, the Large Hadron Collider and the ATLAS experiment are
• what the Higgs Boson is
• what the most exciting words in science are
• what the High Luminosity Upgrade is
• what is dark energy and dark matter
• if you’re 10 now (or looking for a career change) how do you go about being part of finding out what dark matter is?
… and Jon answers questions on:
• what his favourite particle is
• are there any other universes?
• do you ever work with artists to come up with your weird ideas?

Full transcript here


Jon on Twitter @jonmbutterworth
Jon’s blog lifeandphysics.com
BUY HIS BOOK Smashing Physics

2 …with Dr Jen Gupta

For this episode we’re back in the Faraway Forest at Latitude Festival with astrophysicist and science communicator Jen Gupta. Based in the super cooly named Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth where she is the SEPnet/Ogden Physics Outreach and Public Engagement Manager (nice job title!), Jen is also one of the hosts of the BBC Tomorrow’s World Live series, one of the creators and hosts of the Seldom Sirius astronomy podcast and has also been known to perform comedy sets where she uses astronomy to make people laugh. For unknown technical reasons we didn’t record the very end of this conversation so it ends quite abruptly. Sorry, Jen!

In this episode Jen and UNSA’s Director of Human Spaceflight Jon Spooner talk about:
• how she became an astrophysicist
• the weirdest thing in the Universe
• smashing the patriarchy
• Jen’s Tactile Universe project that allows you to 3D print your own galaxy (!)
and Jen answers questions including
• what do galaxies look like?
• how many atoms there are in the Universe?
• the science of the movie Interstellar
• is time travel possible?

Also Jen and Jon and the audience argue about what the best sci-fi movie is and Jen twists small peoples’ melons by answering questions about what is beyond space and leads everyone in a thought experiment where we imagine ourselves as ants on a piece of string. On the last day of a music festival.

Full transcript here


Jen on Twitter @jen_gupta
Jen’s website jengupta.com
Tactile Universe

1 …with Kevin Fong

This was our first event in the Faraway Forest at Latitude Festival 2018 with medical and space doctor Kevin Fong. As well as holding a day job as a flying A&E doctor, Kevin also works regularly with NASA, makes documentaries and podcasts about space for the BBC and in 2009 nearly (actually) became an astronaut.

Kevin and UNSA’s Director of Human Spaceflight Jon Spooner talk about:
• How Kevin became a Space Doctor
• Flying in microgravity on The Vomit Comet
• How Kevin nearly (actually) became an astronaut
• How to survive if you’re thrown into cold water
• Kevin’s latest work with NASA on risk management
• That time he was working as Medical Crew on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral
and we answer questions from our Latitude audience including:
• will there be a second series of Train Like An Astronaut?
• how can we “Queer” space?
• is God an astronaut?

Full transcript here


Kevin on Twitter @Kevin_Fong
Kevin’s most recent BBC project on the Apollo Missions 13 Minutes to the Moon

Jon interviews Kevin Fong at Latitude

Throughout the summer of 2018, we toured festivals including Latitude and Bluedot recording live interviews with some super cool space people.

Coming up are conversations with space doctor Kevin Fong, all round ‘space nerd’ Dr Jen Gupta, space engineer Abbie Hutty, particle smasher Prof John Butterworth, dark matter cosmologist Dr Alexandra Amon, quantum physicist Prof Philip Moriarty, pulsar hunter Dr Sally Cooper, exoplanet hunter Josh Hayes and dark energy investigator Dr Clare Burrage AMONG OTHERS!

Presenters: Jon Spooner & Mini Jon
Sound Engineer & Editor: Andy Wood
Additional sound design: Elena Pena
Music: Public Service Broadcasting
Producers: Jon Spooner, Alice Massey, Sarah Webb for Unlimited
Consultancy: Storythings
Graphic Design: Lee Goater

The The Space Shed and the Unlimited Space Agency are projects of Unlimited Theatre

Jon also interviewed lead corduroy wearer of Public Service Broadcasting J. Wilgoose Esquire for the podcast. But he forgot to turn the recording equipment on 🙄