At a low point in the Cold War, three men walk into a bureaucrat’s office at Gosteleradio, the state broadcaster of the Soviet Union. Two are Americans: an astronaut, and a researcher of psychic phenomena. The third is a Russian utopian with a notebook full of phone numbers he’s not supposed to know. The three want approval for something that’s never been tried before: a two-way, simultaneous satellite link between the enemy empires of the US and USSR.
They called it a spacebridge, and the story of its unlikely genesis and long-term impact is the subject of a 4-part podcast series presented by Radiotopia’s Showcase. Producers Charles Maynes and Julia Barton recount how an odd group of Americans and Russians — astronauts, New Agers, Kremlin administrators and tech entrepreneurs — looked to connect citizens of both countries in an effort to forge peace between the nuclear powers. Spacebridge spans the decades leading up to the first “tele-link” between the two nations, covering the rise of citizen diplomacy in the early 80s and its legacy today.
Join this conversation between author and J-School instructor Adam Hochschild, who is featured in the podcast, and producer Julia Barton, who is also executive editor for the podcast Revisionist History and reported for 99% Invisible and Radiolab.