Dr. Margaret Weitekamp

Today my guest is author and historian Dr. Margaret Weitekamp. Margaret is chair of the Space History department at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum where she curates the Social and Cultural History of Spaceflight Collection encompassing some 5,000 pieces of space memorabilia and science fiction objects. She is also the author of Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: America’s First Women in Space Program. I was fascinated with the idea of chatting with a space historian and I knew Margaret would be a great choice, so I hope you are sitting comfortably and happy to stay with us.

We began our conversation with a discussion on the concept of the history of space travel and how new it is to our society (01:05), before moving on to Margaret explaining how she had the opportunity to be the curator of the History of Spaceflight Collection at the Smithsonian Museum (05:44). We then moved on to talking about the context of the collection and how it appeals to the general public (08:22), and about some of Margaret’s favourite additions to the collection (09:32). I then asked Margaret how people can donate to the collection (12:47) and how the museum shows what happens in space without having the original artefacts (15:00). My next questions were about balancing the preservation of artefacts and making them accessible for visitors (17:52), looking to expand the collection to include private space enterprise (23:21), the future of online presentations (25:27), incorporating artefacts from outside the US space industry (29:28), and future projects in the pipeline (31:20). In the second half of the podcast, we discussed Margaret’s book Right Stuff, Wrong Sex and I asked her if she thought that career in space is now an equal opportunity (34:40) before finishing up with me asking Margaret what she is reading or watching at the moment (40:11).

Show Notes

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Categorized as Episodes

By Ken Sweeney

Podcast host and producer.

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