Space Junk


Space Junk - Antarctic Leadership in the time of COVID (with David Knoff)

This week I spoke to David Knoff, who recently spent 537 days in Antarctica as the leader at Davis Station. David and his team did not know when they left Australia in late 2019, that the COVID-19 pandemic would change the world and leave them isolated longer than they had ever expected and force them to endure an extended stay without resupply and alone.


Prior to his posting in Antarctica, David worked with the Australian Defence Force and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, focused on counter-terrorism in the middle east. He credits his experience of working in a dynamic and hostile environment as shaping his approach to leading teams in unpredictable circumstances and under constant change.


Antarctica is a very useful analogue when we think about what it might be like to have lunar bases and long-term space missions. It turns out that David is a massive space nerd, and when I reached out to him to come on the podcast and talk about his experiences he very kindly agreed to do so. Unfortunately due to lockdowns we had to have our conversation over Zoom rather than over a beer in Melbourne, which I think both of us would have vastly preferred, but it turned out to be a fascinating and uplifting conversation that bridged polar medicine, penguins, home brew, dating in Antarctica, and The Bachelor, so please, as always, forgive the slightly less-than-optimal audio quality.


You can find David’s cute photos of penguins on Instagram at button_film, and as always you can follow me on @anniehandmer on all the socials. 

More Episodes


Space Junk - Space and Political Science (with Dr Kat Robison Hasani)

Kathryn Robison Hasani, PhD is a political scientist who is passionate about space and science communication. In addition to her doctorate and master's in Political Science from the University of Alabama, Kat also holds degrees in Anthropology, Near Eastern Studies, and American Studies from the University of Arizona and Youngstown State University. She has traveled the world for research and language studies, and is a poet and podcaster. Her research interests are in the fields of space policy and communication (both political and science) with a particular interest in the role communication plays in the formation and dissemination of national space policies. Kat is currently a lecturer at Wake Technical Community College. She is also a member of the International Astronautical Federations's Space Education and Outreach and Workforce Development/Young Professionals Programme Committees and serves as the coordinator for the Next Generation Plenary Steering Committee. As a result of her volunteer work, and in recognition of her contributions to the field, Kat was selected as a 2021 Young Space Leader by the IAF. She is also currently participating in UNOOSA's Space4Women Mentoring Program. You can find out more about Kat at or reach out on Twitter at @katrobison. She is always happy to chat about space, poetry, politics, or podcasts. Support this show