Making Space: The Female Frontier spotlights the women who shaped space exploration

CNET's new podcast series hears from the trailblazing women of space -- from the early days of Apollo to the next giant leap toward Mars.

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
Expertise Space, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech Culture Credentials
  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
3 min read
Rob Rodriguez

The history of space exploration is full of iconic images -- Alan Shepard launching into orbit, Neil Armstrong walking on the moon -- but for many years, women were missing from the picture. 

CNET's new podcast series, Making Space: The Female Frontier, will tell these stories launching on Sept. 9, you'll be able to hear their stories over six weeks, with a new episode every Wednesday. 

From the early days of the space race to the greatest scientific breakthroughs of our generation, women have always played a vital role in the history of space discovery. Sometimes front and center, more often than not invisible, these women helped build our understanding of space from the ground up.

Over six episodes, we're spotlighting the women that shaped space discovery. The women that fought to carve out a place at NASA, the scientists who were overlooked by the establishment all the way up to the trailblazers leading the charge in the next age of discovery -- we hear from six iconic women who represent six important eras in space discovery. 

You can find the series on Apple podcastsSpotifyStitcher or search for "Making Space: The Female Frontier" wherever you listen


JoAnn Morgan (sitting in the third row of consoles, at the center) was the only woman in the firing room for the Apollo 11 launch. She tells her story in Episode 1 of Making Space: The Female Frontier.


JoAnn Morgan: The Only Woman in the Firing Room

On July 16, 1969, when Apollo 11 launched from the Kennedy Space Center, JoAnn Morgan was the only woman watching from the launch control room. In Episode 1 of Making Space, Morgan tells us her story -- from her early days as one of the few women at NASA to the thrill of the moon landing and her continued push to get women involved in space exploration. 

Episode 1 available Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Wally Funk and The Mercury 13

In the early '60s, as NASA's Mercury astronauts launched into space, 13 women underwent a secret astronaut testing program to see if they had the right stuff to compete with the men. Wally Funk, one of the few surviving members of the "Mercury 13" tells us the story of those grueling tests and why she'll never never give up on her quest to go to space, all these years later.

Episode 2 available Wednesday, Sept. 16.


Wally Funk puts on a gas mask during testing at the Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The tests were designed to exactly replicate the testing done by the Mercury 7 astronauts to evaluate whether women were fit for space travel.

Carl Iwasaki/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty

Jocelyn Bell Burnell: The Mother of Pulsars

Jocelyn Bell Burnell was just 24 years old when she made one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century, spotting a small "squiggle" on a telescope reading that signified the first pulsar ever discovered. Bell Burnell reflects on a lifetime of work and the Nobel Prize that was ultimately awarded to her supervisor for the discovery. 

Episode 3 available Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Kathy Sullivan: The Most Vertical Woman in the World

Kathy Sullivan was in NASA's first co-ed class of astronauts and was the first US woman to complete a spacewalk. But in 2020, she achieved a totally new feat -- becoming the first woman to dive to the deepest part of the ocean. Sullivan tells the story of seeing the world from both extremes and why space isn't all that different to the ocean's abyss. 

Episode 4 available Wednesday, Sept. 30.


In 2020, former astronaut Kathy Sullivan became the first woman to dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Enrique Alvarez/Caladan Oceanic

MiMi Aung: Flying on Mars

In July 2020, NASA launched its newest Mars rover, complete with a stowaway: a super-lightweight helicopter that is set to fly on Mars. MiMi Aung, the project lead for the Ingenuity Helicopter, tells us the story of how the project came to be, and how you design a helicopter to fly on another world.

Episode 5 available Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Charlie Blackwell-Thompson: Boots on the Moon

As the first female launch director for NASA, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson is on a mission to get the first woman and the next man back on the moon. She tells us what it takes to launch a rocket -- from the years of preparation to the final exhilarating seconds -- and why humanity is venturing further than it ever has before. 

Episode 6 available Wednesday, Oct. 14.