Earlier this year, we had the privilege of chatting with Dr. David Miller, NASA's Chief Technologist, on our Still Untitled podcast. Dr. Miller joined us as part of the Bay Area Science Festival's trip to Alcatraz, where we recorded this podcast episode in front of a live audience. We discussed a wide range of topics, including Dr. Miller's role at NASA, the technological challenges of a Mars mission, the search for Earth-like planets, and much more. Below is a transcript of our conversation, edited for clarity. You can also watch the video of this podcast recording here!
Smith: Welcome to Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project. I'm Will.
Savage: I'm Adam.
Chan: And I'm Norm.
Smith: Joining us today we have a very special guest from NASA. We
have the CTO of NASA, Dave Miller, joining us. Thank you so much for
coming by, Dave.
Miller: Thanks for having me, and I can't think of a better place to
talk about space exploration than The Rock.
Chan: Dave, you are the Chief
Technologist of NASA--the CTO. Can you give us a little explanation of what you do and what you oversee?
Miller: When I first arrived, they told me it's an up and out
organization, and I had no clue what that meant. But it really means
that is that I focus on long-term strategy and things like technology
transfer, how we interact with other companies and transfer the
technology we do. We also track emerging space. We also roadmap the
various technologies we're going to do. Probably most important, is
advising the administrator on all things technology. There's a good,
sort of, comparison I can make from The Martian... Who's seen The Martian? Who's
read the book? Even better still, that's good. In there, I think he
declares himself a space pirate, so let me use that as a way to
describe who I am.
I think of myself as the parrot on the pirate's shoulder. I
provide advice to the leadership in the agency, and as long as I keep
giving good advice, I stay on that shoulder.
Savage: It's like, "Awk, want to use ion engines!"