Space does not wish you well. It has no shortage of ways to kill you, and in the fifty years humans have been flying spacecraft around the Earth and out to the moon, the mortal perils have been evident. But ten of the missions were the most harrowing of all. Some of them ended in tragedy, some ended successfully—but all of them involved astronauts playing for the very highest stakes in the very deadliest place. Countdown tells the tale of those ten missions—some of them American, some Russian. Written and narrated by Jeffrey Kluger—author of Apollo 13 and Apollo 8—Countdown recreates the space crises that every astronaut has feared, and that an unlucky handful were forced to live.
S1E10: Apollo 13
32:17Whether there would be time for forensic work before the spacecraft died was unclear—something Liebergot understood better than anyone else. It was time, he knew, to ask the question that had been playing around the edge of his mind for the past ten minutes—and, he suspected, was on a lot of other minds both on the ground and in the spacecraft too.
Don't miss an episode of “Countdown” and subscribe to it in the GetPodcast app.
25:44It can be oddly peaceful inside a dying spacecraft. That was not something Michael Foale ever suspected—and with good reason. When you’re inside a spacecraft that’s dying, you’re likely to die right along with it. But now that Foale was in that very situation, after six weeks aboard Russia’s Mir space station, he was surprised at the sense of serenity that came over him.TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger takes you through the events that make it one of the most harrowing space missions of all time.
29:31Space has a lot of ways to kill you. It’s a beautiful place to contemplate and a thrilling place to visit, but for all its appeal, it’s got murder in its heart. There is almost no way you can imagine to die that space won’t be perfectly happy to deliver, save one: you can’t drown there. That, ultimately, was what made it such a surprise in 2013 when Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano nearly drowned to death while orbiting 250 miles above the Earth. TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger takes you through the events that make it one of the most harrowing space missions of all time.
S1E6: Apollo 12
23:24Pete Conrad had no business trying to fly to the moon on a rainy morning in November of 1969. And NASA, by the look of things, had no business agreeing that it would be a good idea trying to send him there. You wouldn’t know that, however, from the scene at Cape Canaveral.TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger takes you through the Apollo 12 mission and the events that make it one of the most harrowing space missions of all time
S1E4: Gus Grissom
27:12Gus Grissom tried not to give much thought to the fact that the rocket he was riding to space was built to kill people. But the terrible V-2 would become the beautiful Redstone, and American Astronauts - manifestly the good guys - would ride them into space.TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger takes you through the Liberty Bell 7 mission and the events that make it one of the most harrowing space missions of all time.
S1E3: Apollo 1
29:55Whether ship or mere simulator, the Apollo had so far impressed most people at NASA as a slapdash machine. It was temperamental, error-prone, and impossible to work with for more than a little while before something broke down. TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger takes you through the Apollo 1 mission and the events that make it one of the most harrowing space missions of all time
S1E2: Gemini 8
22:46Neil Armstrong didn’t believe in omens, but he got a nasty one anyway the moment he climbed into his Gemini 8 spacecraft on the morning of March 16, 1966. If Armstrong had believed in omens, he might have been better prepared for what the rest of the day held for him.TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger takes you through the Gemini 8 mission and the events that make it one of the most harrowing space missions of all time
S1E1: Apollo 10
24:57There were a lot of mission rules in the official flight plan when Apollo 10 was preparing to leave Earth on its journey to the moon, but the most important one was: Whatever you do, don’t land there.TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger takes you through the Apollo 10 lunar orbit and the horrifying events that make it one of the most harrowing space missions of all time