Category Archives: Space Exploration

Now Available: For All Humankind

My new book with Dr. Tanya Harrison came out on March 17th and we are thrilled with the response and reviews!

You can pick it up now anywhere books are sold, and as always, please consider supporting your local bookstores!

To buy online:

For All Humankind Cover


“The messages of hope and inspiration in this book are very much of a time, but they are also timeless. Maybe they speak to the ability humans have to overcome seemingly impossible challenges…but apparently only when we feel like it. As we stand at the new crossroads of space exploration and look forward, perhaps we should glance backward, too, and remember from whence we came. Because Apollo set the bar high. Very, very high.” – Geoff Notkin, President of the National Space Society and former host of Meteorite Men on The Discovery Channel

“Tanya Harrison and Daniel Bednar invite us to re-live one of humanity’s proudest moments through a series of vivid, intimate, and refreshingly diverse accounts that challenge our perspectives and remind us that space exploration is a global pursuit with global benefit. Like the Apollo program itself, For All Humankind is both momentous and inspiring, the kind of stories that stay with you forever.”Kellie Gerardi

“A beautiful demonstration of how curiosity and wonder brought our planet together to accomplish the impossible.”Dagogo Altraide, creator of ColdFusion and author of New Thinking

“An absolute delight! By telling the story of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing through the eyes of observers from around the world, Dr. Tanya Harrison and Dr. Danny Bednar bring a freshness to it that is utterly beguiling. I would defy anyone not to be inspired by these extraordinary accounts from people who were, in turn, inspired by what they saw and experienced over 50 years ago. I know I was.” – Dr. Andrew Maynard, scientist and author of Films from the Future and Future Rising

“Harrison and Bednar’s rich narrative serves to make the moon landing an inclusive event in human history. Told through a diverse set of characters from every continent, they deftly explores the intersectional impact of humankind’s biggest step.” – Zara Stone, journalist and author of The Future of Science is Female.

“A great overview of the moon landing for young adults. This book sets the stage for the moon landing in a Cold War world. Great scientific and cultural background. Humanizing stories to keep reader interest” – Amazon Customer Review

“Is a wonderful read. Thoroughly enjoyed it!”Amazon Customer Review

“Insightful and entertaining read, definitely recommend!” – Amazon Customer Review

New Paper: Documenting Rover Science

In this latest paper, my colleagues and I outlined some challenges for mission documentation through our experiences on the 2016 CanMars analogue mission.

Documentation is the process by which you record major events and decision making in a mission. This is usually done so that future mission designers can learn from past missions. Although, most documentation actually gets used be people coming in to mission control after a shift or day off (since its a record of what happened while they were gone).

Analogue missions are when researchers practice operating rovers by using Earth instead of Mars or the Moon. It’s obviously a lot easier, safer, and cheaper, and is perfect for the real thing.A lot of graduates of analogue missions go on to work with rovers in space exploration.

In our case, we were working with a rover operating in the desert near Hanksville Utah, while our mission control was in London, Ontario.


Our little rover was called MESR (pronounced mee-zer) (Image: CSA, 2016)

Our paper is published in the September 2019 issue of Planetary and Space Science and can be found here.

In short we found a few things:

  • Up-front decisions have to be made about how detailed the in-room discussion will be recorded (there are trade-offs either way).
  • It’s practically impossible to capture all decision making on a mission (the ideal objective of documentation). All of the small conversations that go into a decisions occur in many undocumented places. The best thing to do is to make sure overall deciding factors are stated clearly in open deliberation and for recording.
  • Documentarians don’t have to be experts, in fact there may be value in non-experts recording the decision making process (along with experts). A mix may be best.
  • We suggest room design is not irrelevant to mission success, as mundane as it sounds. Room layout can affect documentation, at least in our case. A mission might as well consider this in mission control design.


Feature image (CSA, 2016).

Critical Geographies of Outer Space Session at AAG 2018: New Orleans

The full preliminary program for the 2018 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting has been released here.

The AAG is the largest gathering of geographers in the world, and for the fourth straight year, myself and Dr. Julie Klinger are hosting a session on the Critical Geographies of Outer Space.

Our session will take place at 5:20 PM THURSDAY April 12th in Napoleon A3 at the Sheraton (3rd Floor).

Here are the paper presentations we will have in the session.

Danny Bednar, PhD Candidate & Lecturer, Western University, Department of Geography

  • Deconstructing and Constructing the Outer Space Treaty for Critical Environmental Geopolitics

Megan O’Kane, PhD Student, Queen’s University Belfast, School of Natural and Built Environment

  • The Ludic Geopolitics of Extraterrestrial Videogame Spaces

Dr. Rory Rowan, University of Zurich, Department of Geography

  • The NewSpace State: The Commercial Space Sector and State Formation in Outer Space

Dr. Julie Klinger, Boston University, Frederick S. Pardee School Of Global Studies

  • Discussant

See you in New Orleans!



Podcast: Western Gradcast Lunar Special

In order to promote this Saturday’s International Observe the Moon event here at Western University, myself along with colleagues Zach Morse and Patrick Hill recorded a special edition of Gradcast all about the Moon.

Gradcast is the podcast and radio show of the Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) here at Western.

The episode can be downloaded here.

For those interested in the public event, this Saturday the 28th, details can be found here.

Thanks again to everyone involved for putting this together and I hope you enjoy the show.

Here’s how it breaks down:

00:00 – 6:34 Introductions and International Observe the Moon Night at Western info.

6:35 – 15:20 Lunar/Planetary Science Facts and Discussion

15:21 – 28:09 We answer common questions about the Moon


New Podcast: Talking Climate Change Adaptation, Geography, and the Outer Space Treaty

As part of the local Campus radio (CHRW 94.9) I recently took part in the Gradcast Radio podcast to discuss, among other things, my PhD work on climate change adaptation in Canada.

The podcast can be downloaded here

Here’s how the conversation breaks down:

00:00 – 14:47 – What is Climate Change Adaptation and how are governments in Canada taking action?

14:48 – 22:16 – What is Geography (at the university level) and how do we “make places”?

22:17 – 27:20 – What is the Outer Space Treaty and how are we making places…in space?

Thanks again to Roger, Navaneeth and the Gradcast production team for having me, it was a blast.

Public Talk: The Outer Space Treaty at 50: What’s in it, and Where is it Going?


I will be giving a public talk as part of the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration at Western University weekly forum on the topic of the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty.

Talk Summary: October 10th, 2017, marked 50 years since the Outer Space Treaty entered into force. In it’s five decades, the treaty has been signed by 105 nations, including every space-faring government in the world and is often referred to as the single most important document related to outer space politics. While the treaty has been noted for it’s optimistic language that focuses on international cooperation and scientific exploration, it has also been contested by a variety of long-standing and emerging interests within the broader space community.What exactly is in the treaty and what parts are contested? This talk will cover the major components of the Outer Space Treaty, focusing mostly on Articles I-X. Further, current and future interests such as those related to orbital debris mitigation, resource extraction, off-Earth colonization, and increased militarization will be discussed regarding future challenges for the OST and the continuing debate of who, and what, space is for.

October 20th, 12:30 PM, Western University, Physics and Astronomy Building, Rm. 100

Call for Papers: AAG 2018 – Critical Geographies of Outer Space

BannerDear Colleagues,

Building upon panels on the Geographies of Outer Space held over the past three Annual Meetings of the Association of American Geographers, we again wish to  bring together critical geographers interested in non-Earth spaces.

In accordance with one the major themes of this year’s AAG meeting, ‘Public Engagement in Geography’, this paper session is particularly interested in perspectives which address the intersection of non-earth spaces and public engagement. Specifically, we are inviting contributions which explore the democratization and (de)politicization of non-earth places and related technologies.

As discussed in previous panels, human endeavors are extending many of the most central issues in geography—property rights and enclosures, place making, the politics of knowledge production, and questions of pollution and conservation, inter alia—to places beyond our terrestrial home. The engagement of off-Earth spaces by the public as well as by practitioners in the fields of aerospace engineering, communications, planetary exploration, and warfare (amongst others) take place within varied sets of discourses and values that merit timely and crucial scholarly attention.

To this point, Outer Space as both a place, and space, of human endeavor has yet to emerge as a major sub-field of geography, despite its importance in everyday life. With paper sessions and networking over the past several years in the US and the UK, the organizers of this session wish to continue the productive dialogue amongst outer space geographers.

The 2018 meeting of this growing group of critical outer space geographers will also serve as a preview of a forthcoming special issue on the critical geopolitics of outer space, which emerged from last year’s conference.

The organizers invite papers that contribute to the continuing maturation of the field focusing on this year’s theme of the intersection of outer space with issues of democracy and public engagement.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

Access to space-based technologies

Capitalist construction of outer space geographies and materials

Discourses of Armageddon, colonialism, survival, and escapism

Gendered discourses and practices in the space industry

Labour practices, relations, and struggles in space technology

Narratives of New Space

Orbital debris mitigation and responsibility

Planetary contamination and intergenerational equity

Satellites, surveillance, and privacy

Space exploration, war profiteering, and human rights-violating regimes

Utopianism and a/de/politicization of space

Treaties, Policy, and Democracy



  1. Please submit an abstract or description to the organizers by October 26th, 2017.
  2. You must complete your registration and abstract submission at [] by October 29th, 2017.


Danny Bednar, Department of Geography, Western University.

Julie Michelle Klinger, Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University.

Selected References: (Beery 2012, Parks and Schwoch 2012, Redfield 2001, Dickens and Ormrod 2016, Macdonald 2007, Dunnett 2016, Messeri 2016, Klinger 2017, Lane 2010, Olson 2012, O’Leary and Capelotti 2015)

Beery, Jason. 2012. “State, Capital and Spaceships: A Terrestrial Geography of Space Tourism.”  Geoforum 43 (1):25-34.

Dickens, P, and J Ormrod, eds. 2016. The Palgrave Handbook of Society, Culture, and Outer Space. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dunnett, Oliver. 2016. “Geopolitical cultures of outer space: The British Interplanetary Society, 1933 – 1965.”  Geopolitics 22 (2):452 – 473.

Klinger, Julie Michelle. 2017. Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Lane, K. M. D. 2010. Geographies of Mars: Seeing and Knowing the Red Planet. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Macdonald, Fraser. 2007. “Anti-Astropolitik: Outer Space and the Orbit of Geography.”  Progress in Human Geography 31 (5):592-615.

Messeri, Lisa Rebecca. 2016. Placing Outer Space:  An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

O’Leary, Beth Laura, and P.J. Capelotti, eds. 2015. Archaeology and Heritage of the Human Movement into Space. New York: Springer.

Olson, VA. 2012. “Political Ecology in the Extreme: Asteroid Activism and the Making of an Environmental Solar System.”  Anthropological Quarterly 58 (4):1027 – 1044.

Parks, L., and J. Schwoch, eds. 2012. Down to Earth: Satellite Technologies, Industries, and Cultures. New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press.

Redfield, Peter. 2001. Space in the Tropics:  From Convicts to Rockets in French Guiana. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Image Credit: New Orleans from space (