NASA | New Hampshire Public Radio


The Challenger disaster occurred 35 years ago, and while we mourn the entire crew, in New Hampshire the anniversary is especially poignant as we mourn the loss of Concord teacher Christa McAuliffe. We consider how her legacy has inspired a new generation of educators and a new era in space exploration. We shine a light on projects at the state’s universities and colleges that are helping NASA and expanding our knowledge of space. 

Airdate: Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021


The SpaceX Dragon crew with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley successfully launched Saturday on a journey to the International Space Station.

The launch came shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday.

Watch the launch via this NASA YouTube video. The launch countdown begins about an hour into this video:


The University of New Hampshire has won a $6-million-dollar federal contract to build a space weather sensor for a satellite that will orbit the Sun.

The instrument, called a magnetometer, will help monitor the sun’s outer atmosphere or “corona.” This generates solar wind and can create storms, according to a UNH press release.


NASA is looking to hire astronauts for the Artemis program, the mission to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024.

The space agency expects to pick the next group of candidates by mid-2021, to begin training as the next class of the Artemis generation astronauts.


A new exhibit is set to open at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. It opens Saturday, July 20.

It features a lunar colony, toddler space exploration center and 3-D Apollo landing site maps. The first 150 guests will receive a gold coin commemorating the first steps on the moon (with paid admission).

Rachel Cohen/NHPR

A group of Dartmouth engineering students recently won a challenge from NASA to design a greenhouse for Mars. 

The challenge was laid out by NASA: Create a system to feed four astronauts on a 600-day mission to Mars.

Of the five teams from around the country that made it to the final stage of the BIG Ideas competition, the team of 8 students from Dartmouth won for their greenhouse called DEMETER.

DEMETER stands for Deployable Enclosed Martian Environment for Technology, Eating, and Recreation.

Sky Crew: The Universe Expands

May 3, 2019

Space scientists are still celebrating the first picture ever of a black hole.  The image was taken by ten telescopes on four continents working in concert to create an image many thought they would never see.  NASA is evaluating the threat of asteroids coming close to earth in the near future, and seeking solutions to help deflecting them.   And NASA reveals details for a moon-base with a broader goal of going to Mars.  


Sky Crew: Eyes on the Moon and Beyond

Jan 14, 2019

The Sky Crew is back to kick off 2019 with news of the New Horizons spacecraft and its encounter with the distant object dubbed "Ultima Thule."  We get the details on the "Super Blood Wolf Moon" eclipse which will be visible  (weather permitting) from N.H. on January 20-21.  And we discuss how the government shutdown is affecting NASA and plans to go to the moon again.  

Allegra Boverman for NHPR


New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen says reports that NASA's administrator has invited the head of the Russian space agency for a visit undermine the United States' core national security objectives.

Shaheen, a Democrat, is one of a number of U.S. officials and legislators criticizing a possible visit by Dmity Rogozin. She said NASA should withdraw the invitation before Congress is forced to take action.

Robert Garrova for NHPR

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, NASA and state officials toured a company in Merrimack Monday that's making high-strength and lightweight materials using nanotechnology.

Nanocomp employee Hosea Hobbs demonstrated operation of a machine that turns carbon nanotubes into ultrastrong thread. Think of spinning wool inside of a hot furnace. Or, “kinda more like a cotton candy, but yeah, that's exactly what it's doing," Hobbs said.

Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard, Courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science

October 1, 2018, marked the 60th anniversary of NASA.  It’s formation was prompted in part by the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, on Oct. 4, in 1957.  And while we're still discussing whether Pluto should be a planet or not, an extreme dwarf planet dubbed “Goblin” has been discovered lurking beyond Pluto’s orbit. We find out about the upcoming planetary encounter, Ultima Thule.  And we check in on SpaceX's first paying customer to the Moon.


A NASA spacecraft zoomed toward the sun Sunday on an unprecedented quest to get closer to our star than anything ever sent before.

As soon as this fall, the Parker Solar Probe will fly straight through the wispy edges of the sun's corona, or outer atmosphere, that was visible during last August's total solar eclipse.

It eventually will get within 3.8 million (6 million kilometers) of the surface in the years ahead, staying comfortably cool despite the extreme heat and radiation, and allowing scientists to vicariously explore the sun in a way never before possible.



The first of Christa McAuliffe's lost lessons finally have been released from space.

McAuliffe, a high school teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, never got to teach from space. She perished during the 1986 launch of shuttle Challenger, along with her six crewmates.

NASA and the science education Challenger Center released a video Tuesday of astronaut-educator Ricky Arnold performing one of the experiments aboard the International Space Station.

The lunar eclipse, or blood moon, lived up to the hype Friday.

That even goes for us in the Northeast, where it was not visible, thanks to NASA producing a steady live stream of the event.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

A University of New Hampshire astrophysics team will be part of a NASA mission to study the edge of the solar system.

UNH astrophysics professor Nathan Schwadron says he’s been working for 10 years on the instrument NASA has chosen to send into space. 

Katherine Garrova

Representatives from NASA visited Smiths Titeflex in Laconia Thursday to emphasize the company's efforts in bringing humans to space.


All the external plumbing for NASA’s Space Launch System - which the agency says will be its most powerful rocket ever built and will pave the way for travel to Mars - is manufactured at Smiths Triflex.


Astronaut Barry Wilmore was on hand to give a presentation to employees that included photos from the 178 days he spent in space.  


Our Astronomy crew is back, with insight into the latest development speculating about icy plumes of water on Jupiter's moon, Europa.  And, eyes on Mars: NASA's Insight Mars Lander just launched a mission to study the planet's interior. In 2020, NASA will attempt to fly a tiny helicopter drone in the thin Martian atmosphere.  SpaceX is on track to launch more rockets than any other country...and may soon begin testing short trips to Mars next year.  Amid all this speculation: could the first man on a woman? 

Christa McAuliffe's Lost Lessons Finally Taught in Space

Jan 20, 2018

 Christa McAuliffe's lost lessons are finally getting taught in space.

Thirty-two years after the space shuttle Challenger disaster, a pair of teachers turned astronauts on the International Space Station will pay tribute to McAuliffe by carrying out her science classes.

Sky Guys: Winter Solstice Edition

Dec 19, 2016

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice on Dec. 21 marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. The Sky Guys help us identify what we're seeing in the night sky this month. We remember astronaut and American legend, John Glenn, who died this month at age 95.  He became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. And we discuss the top space news stories of 2016.


  • Mal Cameron - former astronomy and space educator at the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center and coordinator of its NASA Educator Resource Center.
  • John Gianforte – co-founder of the "Astronomical Society" of northern New England and astronomy instructor for Granite State College and UNH.


Sarah Joy via flickr Creative Commons /

The Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court, the Paris Agreement. The Trump administration is sure to bring lots of changes, among them: White House decor. On today’s show we’ll take a historic tour of how first families have put their stamp on the executive mansion, including President Teddy Roosevelt, who created the west wing.

Also today, we'll speak with NASA's planetary defense officer about teaming up with FEMA, the Air Force and other government agencies for a simulation of what could happen if an asteroid crashed into a densely populated region -- and how they'd respond.

Nicholas Wilson via Flickr CC /

Since Election Day, reports of hate crimes have soared across the nation. While well-documented in the news and on social media, the real numbers could be even higher. Today: why reporting and tracking hate crimes begins - and sometimes ends - with local cops, courts and cultural norms.

Also today, the Feds contemplate a scary scenario: an asteroid hurtling towards greater Los Angeles. We'll speak with NASA's planetary defense officer about teaming up with FEMA, the Air Force and other government agencies for a simulation of what could happen if an asteroid crashed into a densely populated region - and how they'd respond. 

The Sky Guys: Juno, Jupiter and the Milky Way

Jun 30, 2016

We're checking in with the Sky Guys this week for the latest news on the Juno mission to Jupiter, why eighty percent of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way, and gravitational ripples confirmed for a second time.   Plus, what to look for in the stars for summer nights ahead.


David Hale Smith via Flickr CC /

From solitary poets to reclusive painters, loneliness is a rich vein for artists. Today, writer Olivia Laing meditates on this essential part of the human condition.

Then - we'll talk to the designer behind one of NASA's viral ad campaigns, a beautiful set of travel posters that put a mid-century spin on the future of space tourism. And, we’ll delve into the history of the iconic NASA logo known as "the meatball" and its doomed successor "the worm.”

Chilli Head via Flickr CC /

As Super Tuesday results came in last night, Google searches for how to move to Canada spiked 350%. Whether Obama in '08, or Trump in 2016, a surprising number of people threaten "if so and so gets elected, I'm outta here". But where would they go?  Today, when Americans commit  self-imposed political exile.

And there's no farther place to travel than outer space - we'll talk to the designer behind one of NASA's viral ad campaigns, a beautiful set of travel posters that put a fifties spin on space tourism. 

The Failure Show

Feb 19, 2016

There are winners and there are losers, victorious success stories, and epic fails - and today show is all about the latter. 

From sports to space, from politics to parenting, we explore our cultural obsession with failure and how we humans process failure. Is it a necessary path to success, or something to avoid at all costs? 


It's our Sky Guys: the hunt for 'planet nine' continues, with evidence of a huge, but unseen mass beyond Pluto. The mars rover Opportunity celebrates its twelfth birthday, exploring the red planet long beyond expectations.  And this week, it's your best chance to see Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter lined up across the early morning sky.

Karla via Flickr CC /

After a group of anti-government activists took over an Oregon wildlife refuge last weekend, news outlets are struggling with how to identify them and their goals. On today’s show, a media reporter says in today's partisan, all-in media landscape, news reporters have an obligation to choose words carefully.

Then, 2015 was a banner year for science, from Pluto’s photo shoot, to the Ebola vaccine. So what's next? We'll hear about some of the big ideas in store for 2016, including the future of the gene editing tool: CRISPR.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center via Flickr CC /

We’ve seen this dance before: presidential hopefuls stumping in New Hampshire. Today, we talk to the official candidate from the Transhumanist Party who says we need a new political party and new tactics for the issues of our time. Then, Jackie Robinson’s major league debut was an obvious, watershed moment in America’s troubled racial history. But we’ll look at a lesser known moment for American civil rights: breaking NASA’s color barrier and the story of the first African Americans in the space program.

New images of Pluto have arrived from a NASA space probe, and they're already allowing scientists to update what we know about the dwarf planet — such as its size. NASA's New Horizons probe has traveled more than 3 billion miles to send photos and data about Pluto back to Earth.