The 7 Best Podcasts for Getting Lost in Space

Space exploration represents the pinnacle of human imagination. As billion-dollar missions push farther seeking signs of life, we earthlings brim with restless curiosity about the mysteries above.

Seeking to satisfy our collective longing to grasp the cosmos, space podcasts have rapidly grown in popularity over the past decade. In 2021 alone, statista reports a 19% increase among US adults listening to science podcasts weekly.

But the expanding galaxy of amateur productions ranges in quality and substance. Through hundreds of hours of listening on long drives, we‘ve highlighted the most engaging shows guaranteed to launch your understanding into orbit!

What Makes The Best Space Podcasts?

Before unveiling our selections, here are hallmarks that elevate informative podcasts into beloved sensations:

Trusted Insider Hosts – The most compelling hosts share firsthand work in space programs, aerospace engineering or astronomy. Their credentials and passion infuse credibility with contagious excitement about new discoveries.

Storytelling Flair – Dry lectures about astrophysics fail to spark wonder in most listeners. The best shows inject personality, humor and even drama into conveying cosmic realities far exceeding our daily existence.

Mind-Bending Concepts – Listening to incremental scientific progress can bore non-experts. The most gripping podcasts traverse theoretical frontiers at the very edges of human understanding about warped space-time, quantum realm enigmas and alien civilization possibilities.

Production Polish – While DIY podcast charm has its place, audio quality affects engagement. Indicators like clear sound mixing, minimal dead air and supplemental images help podcasts feel like mass media rather than just amateurs chatting.

Using the above yardsticks, here are our nominations for the 7 space podcasts that will expand your celestial awe:

1. Planetary Radio – The Flagship Space Fandom Podcast

Planetary Radio, passionately hosted by space advocate Mat Kaplan, enjoys renown as the world‘s premier podcast for space enthusiasts. Launching in 2005, its 17-year archive comprises a living oral history of 21st century space exploration.

Over 640,000 monthly listeners tune in for Kaplan‘s energetically-moderated discussions with leading planetary scientists, aerospace engineers, astronauts, sci-fi authors and entrepreneurs pushing frontiers.

Rather than a niche show for eggheads, the hosts‘ contagious fascination with space makes episodes engaging to mainstream fans. Unlike hastily-edited DIY productions, Planetary Radio broadcasts via terrestrial and satellite radio, underscoring superb production polish.

The Planetary Society production, covering events like rocket launches, discoveries on Mars and Saturn‘s rings, Apollo anniversaries and astro-tourism plans, amounts to essential listening for serious space devotees.

Signature episodes in 2022 featured exclusive discussions around:

  • NASA‘s James Webb and Hubble telescopes
  • Attempts to divert asteroids threatening Earth
  • Insider views on recent SpaceX and Blue Origin launches
  • China‘s lunar exploration program
  • Science enabling interplanetary space travel

For fans obsessed with space exploration, Planetary Radio offers insider analysis which typical news reports lack. Its dream team of recurring expert guests and Kaplan‘s adept moderating make episodes fly by like giddy trips through wormholes!

2. Houston We Have a Podcast – NASA‘s Authentic Astronaut Stories

Seeking "the rest of the story" beyond astronauts‘ stoic media images? Houston We Have a Podcast delivers profound human stories direct from space pioneers making history.

Released by NASA‘s Media Operations team since 2016, episodes feature frank conversations with agency personnel often overlooked. Subjects include not just astronauts but doctors, botsanyists, psychologists and engineers working daily to expand human reach into space.

Rather than glorying superstar captains like Neil Armstrong, the show gives voice to supporting scientists ensuring missions succeed. Recent guests have shared thrilling tales like analyzing Moon rocks, coping with zero gravity aboard the space station, and diversity barriers broken as women took flight.

The podcast captures an unprecedented oral history revealing space program personalities in their own words. Its library of human stories exposes little-known details, camaraderie and adversity behind the scenes. Episodes running 30 to over 60 minutes allow guests to open up beyond soundbites offered elsewhere in NASA and mainstream media.

While America‘s astronauts have attained legendary renown, Houston We Have a Podcast introduces a pantheon of lesser-sung heroes dedicated to understanding our Earth, solar system and universe. Its tales amplify fame beyond Neil and Buzz to feature extraordinary yet everyday folks pushing frontiers.

3. The Space Above Us – Speculating on Cosmic Mysteries

For imaginative perspectives on space beyond straight data, The Space Above Us podcast playfully speculates on provocative what-if‘s. Aviation experts Chuck Kapelke and Dave Brody apply their science and futurist insights not to incrementally progress knowledge – but blow open cosmic possibilities!

Rather than austere academic analysis, their weekly 45-minute episodes weave tales questioning space oddities and wonders:

  • How precisely tuned must conditions be for life to emerge?
  • What fantastical realities might black holes conceal?
  • Can we ever decode messages from ancient alien civilizations?
  • Will future humans bioengineer offspring to tolerate interstellar journeys?

Such imaginative thought experiments bring playful personality to space. Listeners feel like eavesdropping on two eccentric backyard astronomers chatting over beer. Unafraid to ponder seemingly preposterous ideas, Chuck and Dave‘s infectious curiosity liberates imaginations exhausted by drab textbook science.

Launched in 2019, The Space Above Us won acclaim for conveying majestic otherworldliness evoking sci-fi masters like Rod Serling and Arthur C. Clarke. Rather than clinical factoids, Chuck and Dave probe endless possibility in the cosmos. Listeners seeking escape from harsh Earthly limits will savor their mind-bending flights of conjecture spreading poetic wonder.

4. SpaceTime Disassembled – The CliffNotes of Space History

Recounting milestone moments and hidden tales essential to space progress, SpaceTime Disassembled efficiently catches up newcomers. Hosted by geophysicist Dr. David Shormann, episodes spotlight under-appreciated scientists, accidental innovations and sudden insights that enabled launch.

Condensing epic sagas like the Space Race into digestible chapters, David focuses less on memorizing dates and rocket names – but Reveling obstacles overcome by perseverant pioneers. Tales remind how visionary breakthroughs commonly come from left field through gumption meeting luck meeting genius.

Episodes chronicle desperate trials, false starts and explosive risks before rockets safely carried satellites and humans into orbit. David personalizes game-changing pioneers like Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev while clarifying their controversial politics. Listeners time-travel through recent decades utterly transformed by space programs born from military urgency.

Rather than a professorial monologue, David energetically relates emotional backstories of inventors and accidents that enable today‘s routine space operations. Beyond lauding successes, he salutes spectacular failures critical for learning. By humanizing astro-innovators‘ against-the-odds journeys, episodes underscore how vision plus grit empowers Explorers to manifest dreams.

5. Are We There Yet? – Inspiring Tomorrow‘s Explorers

Guiding young listeners into space‘s endless career opportunities, Are We There Yet? playfully awakens kids‘ latent science dreams. Created by NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Lab, 15-minute episodes simplify cosmic concepts through skits, games and cheerful banter.

Upbeat female scientist-hosts relate their childhood aspirations, winding paths and ultimate thrill piloting Mars drones or designing orbiting telescopes. Rather than textbook pedantry, their infectious excitement models science as an adventure playground for girls too.

Recent episodes guide young minds through building robots, studying alien atmospheres, 3D-printing habitats for the Moon and Mars, and designing next-gen spacesuits. Upbeat sound design, interactive segments and humor replace dry academia with fun sure to hold short attention spans.

While targeting kids, Are We There Yet equally informs adults seeking introductions to space careers. Its proud spotlighting of women scientists provides sorely-lacking media role models. Episodes released since 2016 foster inclusiveness critical to diversifying tomorrow‘s space workforce beyond dated stereotypes.

6. Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe – Hilarious Cosmology Crash-Courses

Yearning to grasp fantastical physics powering reality itself, yet find textbook explanations incomprehensible? With humor and empathy for befuddled students, astronomers Daniel Whiteson and Jorge Cham decode mystifying science through playful allegories about parallel worlds, time travel and wormholes.

Riffing like an interdimensional comedy duo, their banter simplifies spooky quantum concepts, relativity, string theory multiverses and the origin of consciousness. Jorge in particular draws upon acclaimed PhD Comics conveying academic struggles via cartoons. Listeners receive enlightening meta-explanations of common sticking points.

Rather than stern lectures, Daniel and Jorge‘s infectious awe conveys cosmic mysteries as a magical frontier for curious minds. Many physics podcasts either plunge too deep into equations, or skip fascinating complexities entirely. This show‘s 150+ episodes strike an optimal balance – unpacking mental models behind essential theories without losing big ideas in math weeds.

While some episodes drag into meandering scientific speculation, the duo‘s humble chemistry shines in simplifying spooky phenomena like quantum entanglement across unfathomable expanses. Daniel and Jorge‘s playful thought experiments amount to turbocharged tutorials for recovering science students!

7. StarTalk Radio – Where Pop Culture Meets Astrophysics

CAT scans. Wi-fi signals. GPS navigation. While most technologies improving modern life originated in scientific research, many assume science class is boring and irrelevant.

Seeking to spotlight interconnectedness between expanding human knowledge and everyday experience, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts lively StarTalk Radio roundtables fusing current events, comedy and cosmic questions.

Blending entertainment luminosity with substantiative science, Neil moderates freewheeling panel chats with celebrity guests like George Takei, Richard Dawkins and Bill Nye. Topics bounce from ethics of terraforming Mars to occult supernatural claims. Discussions accessibility welcome pop culture fans otherwise intimidated by astrophysics.

Co-hosts like comedians Chuck Nice and Eugene Mirman keep moods light with quips linking science to movies like Interstellar, Star Trek and The Matrix. Such playful connections render the unfathomable familiar. Relatably imperfect production with background noise reminds that illuminating discourse need not be perfect.

With over 20 million downloads since 2009, StarTalk holds records as the worldâ€TMs most popular science podcast. Neil‘s affable expertise guides discussions beyond mere jokes to extract teachable moments – often revealing linkages between far flung concepts.

While some traditionalists argue StarTalk‘s casual tone risks spreading misinformation, most praise Neil‘s talent clarifying nuances accessible to non-specialists. His gift for conveying sublime mysteries through everyday metaphors makes abstruse physics wondrous.

Our auditory odyssey across mind-expanding space podcasts aimed to showcase variety suiting diverse interests. Seeking escapist awe, youth inspiration or decoding enigmas of quantum cosmology? Options await to launch all imaginations beyond stratospheric limits!

Casual astronomy geeks are sure to enjoy Planetary Radio and StarTalk‘s whimsical explorations from experts near the stars. Aspiring astronauts will discover motivating role models through Houston We Have a Podcast and Are We There Yet?

Those seeking to radically expand conceptual horizons should delve into The Space Above Us and Daniel And Jorge‘s playful thought experiments. And history buffs will gain essential context from David‘s vivid retellings on SpaceTime Disassembled.

Whichever piques your curiosity, we urge listeners to blast off into new audio adventures awaiting in our podcast playlist among the stars! Let us know which shows rocket you toward grander appreciation of both astonishing space discoveries and timeless human dreams reaching ever upward…

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