One of my most fascinating interviews for Soonish Episode 1.07, Astropreneurs, was with Ariel Waldman, the creator of Spacehack.org, the global director of Science Hack Day, and the author of What's It Like In Space?: Stories from Astronauts Who've Been There.
Waldman has made it her personal mission to get more people involved in science, especially space exploration. Her talk at the New Space Age Conference at MIT's Sloan School of Management in March was part of what convinced me that I needed to make an episode about space entrepreneurship.
A designer by training, Waldman formerly worked at NASA's CoLab program, which tried to connect communities inside and outside the agency. Today she serves on a council of external advisors for the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, which gives seed grants to innovators and entrepreneurs inside and outside NASA who have radical new ideas for space exploration. Waldman says she's made it her role on the council to find and fund people from outside the traditional space industry.
"I think most people, if you went up to them on the street and you said, 'Would you like a job at NASA?'—just as you are you don't need to change anything about yourself—most people would say, 'Hell yes,'" Waldman told me. "Most people would like to be able to do something with [space] if they just knew that it was accessible to them. And so that's really what set me on on the career path I have now. I'm trying to give other people this experience of either getting a job at NASA..or just knowing that there's a lot of other ways to get involved in space exploration."