Wheathampstead podcast earns Space Agency grant

SPACE is not the final frontier for a couple of boffins whose Wheathampstead-based podcast featuring astronauts Tim Peake and Helen Sharman has attracted a prestigious grant from the UK Space Agency (UKSA).

The Space Boffins podcast started as a labour of love and is produced by its co-founders, award-winning broadcasters and space enthusiasts Richard Hollingham and Sue Nelson.

Richard presents programmes on space for BBC Radio 4 and the World Service, and Sue, editor of The Biologist, has made numerous space-related programmes for Radio 4.

The independent podcast is produced in Wheathampstead and has recently been given a “space for all” grant from UKSA, which replaced the British National Space Centre.

The agency is at the heart of the UK’s efforts to explore space and exploit space-based applications and technology. It also supports academic research and raises the profile of UK space activities.

The Space Boffins podcast has attracted an impressive list of contributors since it began in July this year, including Tim Peake and the first Briton in space, Helen Sharman, along with world renowned space scientist John Zarnecki, who helped ensure that the first part of a probe to land on Saturn’s moon, Titan, was made in Britain.

It currently receives a small amount of sponsorship from Atrium Space Insurance Consortium.

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Richard said: “We funded the studio from our own pockets and did everything in our spare time.”

Sue added: “Fortunately people out there seem to love what we do. We knew that there were people out there like us who wanted to hear about what’s happening in the world of space and space science, particularly from a UK perspective, and we were right.”

The �4,400 grant will allow the pair to carry on recording and promoting the podcast, seek new sponsors and build its audience.

The podcast has now built up a following on Facebook and Twitter (@spaceboffins), and can be heard via i-tunes or at www.audioboo.fm/spaceboffins