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The Road Less Travelled

In this podcast series, SSPI’s Lou Zacharilla speaks with people whose lives and work inspire us because they walk “the road less travelled,” the one leading us to a wider view of space, satellites and our quest for the dwelling of light we call “The Truth.” This series will feature people you may have heard about but may not have yet had a chance to actually hear speak.

Episode 1: Joining Faith and Science in a Journey Through the Stars

In the first episode of The Road Less Travelled, Lou speaks with Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, Director of the Vatican Observatory and co-author of multiple books, including Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? and Turn Left at Orion. Brother Guy holds degrees from MIT, Harvard University and the University of Arizona and has been a member of the Catholic Church’s Jesuit Order since 1989. He has authored hundreds of scientific publications in addition to his books. Brother Guy even has his own asteroid – 4597 Consolmagno – and is a recipient of the Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society.

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Episode 2: Ad Astra

In the second episode of The Road Less Travelled, Lou speaks with Colby Youngblood, President of Celestis, Inc. Celestis Memorial Spaceflights make the dream of spaceflight a reality by launching a symbolic portion of cremated remains into near-space, Earth orbit, to the lunar surface or even beyond.

Colby is responsible for all Celestis operations with particular focus on staff management and fulfilling all significant financial goals of the company. Colby joined the United States Air Force at the age of 17 and served 20 years before he retired from active military service. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and held leadership roles in aircraft maintenance operations, airfield operations, professional development, human resources, and strategic planning during his military career.

After retiring from the Air Force, Colby earned his M.B.A. with a specialization in Executive Leadership from the University of Houston. Before joining Celestis, he was a successful business management consultant, acting as a Co-CEO to help small businesses become more efficient and profitable.

Colby has a passion for leading teams and developing relationships. His expertise spans from professional development and leadership training to cross-functional team leadership and culture development. Colby enjoys negotiating as a hobby and was excited to attend Harvard University’s flagship negotiation course: Negotiation and Leadership at Harvard Law’s Program On Negotiation.

Colby married his best friend, Myrna, in 2000, and they have two boys, Colby Jr. and Conner.

Episode 3: Summer Reading!

Few subjects have been more fertile for the writer’s mind than space with its infinite mysteries and fascinations. With the commercial business of space forming, writers have started to shape stories of the people and potential which make it, yet again, the subject of fascination.

As the dreams of fortunes and adventure again capture the creative mind, what are authors writing about and what do they have to say about our space barons and fictional characters with space as the background? In this podcast, based on the August 2023 edition of the New York Space Business Roundtable, you’ll hear from writers of new books from across the spectrum about their books and their opinions!

Our guests include:

  • Christian Davenport, Washington Post reporter and author of The Space Barons: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos
  • Tim Fernholz, Sr. Reporter,, author of Rocket Billionaires
  • Rob Scheige, Vice President, Willis Towers Watson, author of The Ubiquitous They

Episode 4: How to Make a Star Sing

In the fourth episode of The Road Less Travelled, Lou speaks with Dr. Kimberly Arcand. Dr. Arcand is the Visualization Scientist & Emerging Tech Lead for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which has its headquarters at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Arcand is an award-winning producer and director. She is a leading expert in studying the perception and comprehension of high-energy data visualization across the novice-expert spectrum. As a science data storyteller, she combines her background in molecular biology and computer science with her current work in the fields of astronomy and physics.

Dr. Arcand has been a pioneer in astronomy data visualization, 3D printing and virtual reality. She presented her TEDx talk entitled “How to Hold a Dead Star in Your Hands” in 2016 on 3D printing, the same year she was selected as a “Changemaker” for the White House State of the Women Summit. In 2019, she was featured in the Smithsonian’s “How to be a Scientist” video series both for her work in 3D visualizations of astronomical objects and her work with under-represented groups in STEM. She led a team of researchers to launch the first-ever data-driven virtual reality application of a supernova remnant using NASA observational data. She was selected as a speaker for the U.S. Department of State Speaker Program in 2019, and has appeared on TV shows such as episodes of BBC’s “Universe” on BBC & PBS in 2021,  “A World Without NASA” on the Curiosity channel in 2020, and Roadtrip Nation on PBS in 2020.  Her recent work with SYSTEM Sounds on data sonifications for multiwavelength data and featured on NASA’s SoundCloud, went viral, and has been covered in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, BBC, CNBC, NPR, and the Today Show among others. She is currently working on holograms and applications incorporating haptic technology for astrophysics.

Dr. Arcand has also been the principal investigator for numerous NASA-funded programs as well as a project for the United Nations’ International Year of Light. She has been the recipient of group and individual awards from NASA and the Smithsonian. Dr. Arcand was team lead in the development of the Chandra submission that won the Pirelli International award for science communication in Physics in 2007. She was principal investigator and co-chair for the “From Earth to the Universe” (FETTU) astronomical exhibition project that occurred in 1,000 locations across 70 countries (in 40 languages) from 2009-2011. FETTU was awarded the Mani Bhaumik Prize for Excellence in Astronomy Education and Public Outreach for which prize Arcand co-presented the keynote speech at the Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2010 Conference, in Cape Town, South Africa. She is principle researcher in the Aesthetics and Astronomy image response research project with international participation. Arcand has been an employee of the Smithsonian Institution since June 1998, and won the Smithsonian Achievement Award in 2016.

She co-wrote the non-fiction books “Your Ticket to the Universe: A Guide To Exploring the Cosmos,” Smithsonian Books (2013); “Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond,” Black Dog & Leventhal/Hachette Book Group (2015); and “Coloring the Universe: An Insider’s Guide to Making Spectacular Images of Space,” University of Alaska press (2015). She co-authored a fourth book with Megan Watzke, “Magnitude: The Scale of the Universe,” published in 2017 with Black Dog & Leventhal, which debuted on Amazon as a #1 New Release. She co-authored “Light from the Void,” which was published by Smithsonian Books in October of 2019. Her first two children’s books were released in 2020: An Alien Helped Me with My Homework (Stillwater River Publications, February, 2020) and Goodnight Exomoon (Cottage Door Press, June, 2020). She completed her latest book, “Stars in Your Hand: A Guide to 3D Printing the Cosmos” (MIT Press, 2022) with her colleague Megan Watzke.

Episode 5: Innovation Knows No Boundaries

In the fifth episode of The Road Less Travelled, Lou speaks with Brad Bode, CIO, CTO & Founder of ATLAS Space Operations. They discuss Ground Segment as a Service, ATLAS’ promising approach to satellite operations that offers a range of benefits to satellite operators and how ATLAS’ work has them ranked in the top 30 among Fortune’s most innovative companies.

Brad Bode brings over 20 years of software development experience in the aerospace industry to the ATLAS team. He has designed, developed, tested and deployed satellite command and control, mission planning and data management applications throughout his career. Now, Brad, as the architect and visionary behind Freedom GSaaS (Freedom Ground Segment as a Service), is responsible for hundreds of thousands of satellite passes and terabytes of data collected. He holds an MS in Computer Science from Northern Illinois University.