Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Space Show: NASA's Donna Shirley

Former manager of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program and recently retired director of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Donna Shirley was interviewed on the January 18, 2008 broadcast of The Space Show, a radio program hosted by Dr. David Livingston.

While we have not had an opportunity to listen to the interview, "this is a must-hear discussion because we kept coming back to science fiction and its role in space exploration and development, especially with terra-forming Mars.”

The influence of science fiction upon Shirley’s career is described in an earlier interview given at Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 1998:
When I was 12 or so I started reading science fiction. And I read Arthur C. Clarke's The Sands of Mars, and Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, and Heinlein's books about Mars, and just got completely fascinated with the idea of Mars and going into space and space travel. And so, when I got to college, there really wasn't a space program. I got to college in 1958, and that was the year that Explorer One was orbited, following Sputnik. And so you really couldn't specialize in space, nobody knew how to do it. And so I ended up still working on airplanes.
Shirley voiced similar comments in “Making Science Fact, Now Chronicling Science Fiction,” an article about her role at the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, from the June 15, 2004 issue of The New York Times.

Donna Shirley is the author of the nonfiction book Managing Martians (1998), a “captivating memoir of a life and career spent reaching for the stars.” We've added it to our reading list.

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