'I Need My Space' Podcast

A weekly podcast launching headfirst into the universe's biggest questions with the help of space experts, explorers, and enthusiasts.

by Hannah Margaret Allen
Unsplash / Thom Schneider

The universe can be daunting. While the conversation in and around space is riddled with acronyms and vast unknowns, we believe space is for everyone. I Need My Space is a weekly podcast exploring the realities of the final frontier, no matter how huge, incomprehensible, or outlandish.

Hosted by space-obsessed comedian Steve Ward, each episode of I Need My Space invites you to pull up a seat to the intergalactic table with space experts, explorers, and enthusiasts.

How Can You Listen to I Need My Space?

New episodes drop on Tuesday mornings on the following platforms:

Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Stitcher / Google Play / PocketCasts / Blubrry / iHeart / Radio Public / TuneIn

Want even more from I Need My Space?

First and foremost, it’s be stellar if you rated and reviewed the show on Apple.

Give us a follow on Instagram, Twitter, and, of course, here on Inverse.

Feel free to send your space questions, guest requests, and feedback to ineedmyspace@inverse.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Episode 21 — The Moral Ambiguity of Sending Microbes to Space [Dr. Bill Miller]

Dr. Bill Miller, an evolutionary biologist and expert on the emerging science of the microbiome, chats with Steve about the ramifications of sending microbes into space.

Miller explains how infinitesimal microbes, like the ones on Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster and Starman, could cause massive problems for future civilizations — here and on other planets. He also talks about how humans are agents of panspermia, sending extremophiles out into the universe, without fully understanding the consequences.

This episode was published on September 10, 2018.

Episode 20 — The Intergalactic Travel Bureau [Jana Grcevich]

Jana Grcevich, co-author of Vacation Guide to the Solar System and data scientist with a Ph.D. in astronomy, wants to help you plan your vacation to space.

Not a huge fan of flying? She’d recommend visiting Mercury for a lovely walk along the termintator. Honeymooning? Check out the atmosphere around Venus. Looking to plan an interstellar bachelorette party? Consider hopping moons around Jupiter.

This episode was released on August 15, 2018.

Episode 19 — The Nose of NASA [George Aldrich]

NASA “Nasalnaut” George Aldrich chats Steve about the importance of smell — or lack thereof — in space.

NASA “Nasalnaut” George Aldrich tells us about the importance of smell in space.

George Aldrich

This conversation centers around Aldrich’s role for the past 44 years as a NASA chemical specialist and the surprisingly risky job as “Chief Sniffer.” He explains the process for conducting odor tests, why they are essential, and what stinks the most in space.

This episode was released on August 7, 2018.

Episode 18 — Aloha From Mars [Lynn Levy]

Lynn Levy, host of Gimlet’s The Habitat, joins Steve and guest host Moiya McTier to talk about the true story of six strangers that participated in a year-long Mars simulation in Hawaii, known as HI-SEAS.

The goal of this behavioral experiment is to help NASA understand what life would be like on Mars. To that end, these “astronauts” do research, they explore the “red planet,” and they live for an entire year in a confined space. Levy equipped this crew with recorders and instructions to detail their findings and frustrations. From these audio diaries, The Habitat chronicles the sometimes infuriating, often mundane life of living on “Mars”.

In this episode, we dig into the making of the podcast, why NASA hasn’t studied sex in space, and why sending a psychologist with a crew bound for real Mars might not be such a bad idea.

This episode was released on July 31, 2018.

Episode 17 — The Astronaut Instagram Star [Jennifer Levasseur]

Had you asked Jennifer Levasseur when she was a child what she wanted to be when she grew up, she might’ve said a cross between Princess Leia and Indiana Jones. Now, as space history curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Levasseur is pretty close to that.

In addition to curating space-related exhibits, Levasseur works as a historian of astronaut photography, which makes her the perfect space expert to call on to answer our many questions about photos in space. INMS co-host Steve Ward asks her about how astronauts take photos in outer space, when it got started, and why these photos matter beyond stellar social media fodder.

This episode was released on July 24, 2018.

Episode 16 — We Stumbled on Jupiter’s 12 New Moons [Scott S. Sheppard]

The orbits of Jupiter's new moons show a busy retrograde highway. 

Carnegie Institution for Science

On July 17, 2018, astronomers announced the discovery of 12 new moons orbiting around Jupiter. Inverse writer Matthew Phelan sat down with the Carnegie Institute’s Scott S. Sheppard, who led the team that located the Jovian moons, to tell us what this means for our solar system and why one moon, in particular, is especially odd.

This episode was released on July 17, 2018.

Episode 15 — Curiosity: The Hardest Working Rover [Emily Lakdawalla]

Emily Lakdawalla, author of The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job and planetary evangelist and senior editor at The Planetary Society, joins Rae and Steve to discuss NASA’s Curiosity, the car-sized rover exploring Mars.

To hear from Emily Lakdawalla, follow her on Twitter and check out her articles over at “The Planetary Society.*

This episode was released on July 10, 2018.

Episode 14 — Beyond the Billionaire Space Cowboys [Natalya Bailey]

Natalya Bailey, rocket scientist and CEO of the space propulsion company Accion Systems, is optimistic about the future of NewSpace.

Despite being rife with rich white dudes, Bailey, who was recently named one of MIT Technology Review’s 35 innovators under 35, has found the private space industry to be inclusive and collaborative. The goal of her company, in particular, is to make more affordable propulsion systems: “Satellites are becoming more affordable and accessible but the propulsion systems — the ion engines they need to maneuver and perform their jobs in space — are not becoming more affordable. So that’s what we’re trying to address.”

This episode was released on July 3, 2018.

Episode 13 — Correction: First Human on the Moon [Dr. Mae Jemison]

Dr. Mae Jemison says “we’ve always damn here” when asked about how NASA should get more female astronauts. The former NASA astronaut joins Rae to discuss the importance of paying attention to diverse voices in the space industry.

She shares what it’s like to be made into a LEGO, what makes our planet beautiful, and why she loves Saturn the most. Jemison explains why she always says “first human on the moon,” because a man might’ve stepped onto the surface of the moon, but men and women got him there.

This episode was released on June 26, 2018.

Episode 11 — Leave Mars for the Martians [David Weintraub]

David Weintraub wants us to think long and hard before sending humans to Mars. Weintraub is an astronomy professor at Vanderbilt University and author of Life on Mars: What to Know Before We Go, and in this episode of I Need My Space, he chats with Steve about the ethical implications of going to Mars.

Last week’s NASA announcement confirming the presence of “organic material” on Mars is just one example of the heightened interest in all things Martian. But should we even go to Mars?

The moral dilemma of sending humans to Mars is complicated, but as Weintraub says, “where there are great moral dilemmas, there are important questions.”

Some of these questions include: If there is life on Mars, how will our presence impact it? What would the discovery of extraterrestrial life do to religion? Should we send humans on a one-way trip to the red planet? How do we responsibly explore and do we have the right to? Can someone be banned from going to Mars? Who gets to go to Mars? What would finding life on Mars mean for humans?

This episode was released on June 12, 2018.

Mini-Episode 2 — NASA Digs Up Major Clues About Life on Mars

There’s organic material on Mars! But just what does that mean?

In this mini-episode, astronomer David Weintraub talks to Steve about the importance of the NASA Mars announcements on June 7. We also recruit senior staff writer Peter Hess to contextualize the findings from the two papers.

To hear the full conversation with astronomer and Vanderbilt University professor David Weintraub, tune in next week!

This mini-episode was released on June 7, 2018.

Episode 10 — Big Dumb Space Questions [Dan Ryckert]

Can you walk on the surface of a gas planet? If a tiny black hole opened in the room you’re in, would you die immediately? What would wrestling look like in space? The intergalactic tables turn in this episode of INMS featuring gaming journalist Dan Ryckert.

For decades, Ryckert has explored the infinite unknown through video games, which means co-hosts Steve and Rae have a lot of explaining to do. In addition to the seemingly strange queries posed by Ryckert, they discuss the best and worst space-related video games, the natural union of outer space and gaming, and the one game Ryckert would take to Mars.

To read more from Dan Ryckert, check out his books on Amazon.

This episode was released on June 5, 2018.

Episode 9 — Are Aliens Farting on Mars? [Taylor Wilson]

Nuclear physicist and VICE on HBO correspondent Taylor Wilson is all about being curious. “The moment you stop being curious, you stop being a scientist,” Wilson says. “Being curious about the way the world works, how it could work better… is at the heart of being a scientist and explorer.”

In episode nine of I Need My Space, Wilson talks to co-host, Steve Ward, about the search for extraterrestrial life and the playlist he has queued up for the day the signatures of life are found in outer space.

Wilson, who was the youngest person to achieve nuclear fusion at 14, tells us about how nuclear energy could play a role in space exploration, and why Europa might be have life-inducing conditions.

This episode was released on May 29, 2018.

Episode 8 — A $15,000,000 Spacesuit [Ted Southern]

Before talking to Ted Southern, president and co-founder of Final Frontier, we didn’t know how much a spacesuit cost. Sure, the gear is pricey, but how expensive are we really talking?

In episode eight, Southern tells co-host Rae Paoletta about the ins and outs of spacesuit design and the wastefulness of washing clothes in space (hello, no washing machine). For spacesuits, it’s all about the functionality of the gear, and Southern believes this focus on function over form will influence the clothing trends to come on planet Earth, which means more high-waisted pants for starters.

Why are EVA spacesuits so much more expensive than IVA spacesuits? Why has the fashion industry has been really into space lately? How does Hollywood do in portraying the astronauts on the silver screen? We’ve got answers for you.

This episode was released on May 22, 2018.

Episode 7 — Cause of Death: Spaghettification [Katie Mack]

Dark matter makes up 80 to 85 percent of the matter in the universe, but as theoretical astrophysicist Katie Mack shares in episode seven of the podcast, we still don’t know much about it: “Even physicists have very little idea of what [dark matter] is in the sense that we don’t know what it’s made of. We’re pretty sure it’s real, and we know about how it behaves and where it is. But we don’t know what it is exactly.”

Listen in to find out what we do know about dark matter, along with a conversation about black holes. Mack even delves into the accuracy of Muse’s song “Supermassive Black Holes.”

This episode also features Joshua Dobbs, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, talking about how his education in aerospace engineering intersects with football.

This episode was released on May 15, 2018.

Episode 6 — Space Ain’t the Wild Wild West [Michael Listner]

There’s been a lot of talk about getting humans to Mars, but what happens after that? Will it be a wild west situation? Does any particular country have jurisdiction beyond our atmosphere? Matter of fact, where does outer space begin?

In this episode, Rae asks Michael Listner, a space lawyer — yes, that’s a real job — about the legal constructs that hold up in zero gravity. We delve into what exactly a space lawyer is, how one becomes one, and why he thinks the Outer Space Treaty is an out-of-date piece of legislation. This, of course, means we also dig into the legality issues surrounding President Trump’s Space Force and Elon Musk’s space endeavors.

It’s easy to assume this type of law doesn’t affect regular Earthlings day-to-day, but Listner points to cable and satellite TV, cell phones, and GPS devices as key examples of the importance of space law: “It’s a type of law that allows satellites to be out there and radio frequencies to be used. It basically makes our lives possible.”

This episode was released on May 8, 2018.

Episode 5 — Let’s Not Contaminate Saturn [Swapna Krishna]

In this episode, Rae and Steve talk to space journalist Swapna Krishna about why we will always love shooting stuff (rockets, chicken sandwiches, cremains, etc.) into space. Beyond discussing the very real consequences if, let’s just say, a Tesla Roadster finds its way onto a habitable planet, this episode covers the Kessler Syndrome, the pros and cons of private space, and the sustainability of space travel. Be sure and check out Swapna’s podcast Desi Geek Girls on Apple.

In this episode’s “Why You Need Your Space” segment, we hear from Emily Lakdawalla, senior editor at The Planetary Society, about why even the most serious space experts anthropomorphize spacecraft and rovers.

This episode was released on May 1, 2018.

Episode 4 — Jupiter Is the Bouncer of the Solar System [Jackie Faherty]

Astrophysicist Jackie Faherty, of the American Museum of Natural History, joins Rae to answer questions about how and when humanity will find the next habitable world.

What exactly is an exoplanet, and what is the difference between planets, exoplanets, and brown dwarfs? If Jupiter is the bouncer of the solar system, what does that make Neptune? Why is poetry essentially made for outer space? When will find other habitable worlds out there and will they be our future vacation spots?

Learn the answers to all of these questions, plus details about the most ambitious astronomy project of all time. We aren’t kidding. This episode is out of this world.

This episode was released on April 24, 2018.

Episode 3 — I Grew An Inch in Space [Leland Melvin]

Former NFL wide receiver and retired NASA astronaut, Leland Melvin, needs his space in a big way.

With his pup Zorro on his lap, Melvin tells tales from the beyond to I Need My Space host Rae Paoletta. Have you ever wondered how astronauts learn to move around the space station (it’s all about microaccelerations) or if they play with their food (they do), then listen in to episode three. We talk about “stupid astronaut tricks*, what will sports look like in space, and why he’d love to see his dog experience zero gravity.

This episode was released on April 17, 2018.

NASA astronaut Leland Melvin and pups Jake and Scout.


Episode 2 — A Midnight Snack in Space [Jerry Linenger]

Former NASA astronaut and pretzel-lover Jerry Linenger shares with Rae the intricacies of daily life in space. What does a space station smell like? What’s the most accurate movie about space? How does one sleep upside-down and attached to the wall? Are you scared when you re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere?

This episode was released on April 10, 2018.

Episode 1 — What Do Aliens Really Look Like? [Seth Shostak]

In our premiere episode of I Need My Space, Rae and Steve talk to astrobiologist Seth Shostak of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute about life on other planets.

Here are some of the questions we posed: What will aliens look like? Will aliens have pets? Do aliens think about us? How accurate are sci-fi aliens? What does the government know that we don’t know? What will alien culture and language be like? When will we find biology on other planets? Is there alien A.I.? Do they live among us? What will aliens look like? Will aliens have pets? Do aliens think about us? How accurate are sci-fi aliens? What does the government know that we don’t know? What will alien culture and language be like? When will we find biology on other planets? Is there alien A.I.? Do they live among us?

This episode was released on April 3, 2018.