The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Charles Fishman Explains How an Unlikely Pairing—Between NASA and Playtex—Led to the Apollo Spacesuits in Fast Company

In One Giant Leap, Charles Fishman writes the untold story of the moon landingcharting how the ambitious project was scaled through innovation, teamwork, and technological advancement. As part of Fast Company’s 50 Days to the Moon serieswhich features a story each day leading up to the 50th anniversaryFishman explains how a bra company beat out the competition to make the now-iconic spacesuits. 

In the 1960s, NASA was a male-dominated, engineer-driven organization. The fact that it selected Playtexa company specializing in female undergarmentsto make one of the most vital pieces of spaceflight equipment was surprising, to say the least. The bar for the suits, like every piece of equipment for the mission, was set incredibly high. They not only had to be inflated, pressurized, and able to withstand a variety of temperatures; but they also had to offer flexibility and ease of movement for the astronauts.


“It’s easy enough to make a tank-like suit that will protect a person from the rigors of space. But making a suit that does that, and also moves with something like grace and ease—that turned out to be brutally difficult,” writes Charles Fishman in his exclusive article for Fast Company.


Playtex had just six weeks to design and manufacture its prototype for consideration, where it would go head-to-head with suits developed by defence contractors. Against all odds, the Playtex suit was far and away the best contender: “The company adopted a layered design, believing that it would offer astronauts the flexibility NASA needed. The suit would end up having 21 layers.”


Flying to the moon required a culture of innovation-on-demand that quite simply didn’t existin the 60s, or today. NASA fostered this inaugural culture by coordinating dozens of internal teams, as well as seeking outside expertise whenever they hit a ceiling. Playtex’s contract with NASA was just one of many examples of how the space agency nurtured innovation through a rigorous system of decentralized teamwork. 50 years later, and NASA still stands by its unconventional choicespacesuits today continue to be manufactured by the same division of the Playtex company.


To book Charles Fishman for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency today, his exclusive speakers bureau.

NASA celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Lunar Landing—along with Special Guest Charles Fishman

NASA has teamed up with the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) for a one-night-only musical and visual tribute to Apollo 11. Joining the festivities is journalist, Lavin speaker, and bestselling author of One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission that Flew Us to the Moon Charles Fishman.

Apollo 11: A Fiftieth AnniversaryOne Small Step, One Giant Leap, will be hosted by Mythbusters’ Adam Savage, and feature appearances and performances by special guests Charles Fishman, Pharrell Williams, Natasha Bedingfield, and Mark Armstrongthe son of the late astronaut Neil Armstrong. Fishman wrote one of the most exhaustive and original takes on the moon mission to date in his recently released New York Times bestseller One Giant Leap. It is the surprising, incredible story of the 400,000 ordinary men and women who were charged with the impossible task of getting America to the moon in less than a decade.


The show was created by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino and Associate Conductor of the NSO Emil de Cou. It features a never-before-seen video of David Bowie performing his 1969 hit Space Oddity live at Madison Square Garden, along with specially curated visuals from NASA timed to music, and pre-taped greetings by Stephen Colbert, Elton John, and astronauts on the International Space Station.


To learn more, visit our dedicated Astro speakers page, or contact The Lavin Agency for more information. 

“Hidden Figures Way”: NASA Unveils Street Named After Margot Lee Shetterly’s Bestselling Book

In 2016 Margot Lee Shetterly released Hidden Figures, a book about the three African-American women whose influential work helped America win the Space Race. The bestselling book was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film, and now NASA is using the name to honor the legacy of these unsung heroes.

In Hidden Figures Margot Lee Shetterly tells the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson: the three female mathematicians who overcame racial and gender discrimination to help pioneer NASA’s missions during the space race. Though their work played an integral role in landing men on the moon, the women are only recently receiving recognitionin part due to the widespread success of Shetterly’s book, and subsequent film. On Wednesday the space agency formally recognized the three women by renaming the street outside of their Washington Headquarters “Hidden Figures Way.”


“It's not a first or an only storyit's a story of a group of women who were given a chance and who performed and who opened doors for the women who came behind them,” Shetterly told CBS. “Hidden Figures' is about taking off our blinders and recognizing the contributions of the unseen individuals.”


The dedication ceremony has been featured in The Washington Post, NPR, and USA Today. Shetterly addressed the crowd during the ceremony, saying, “Naming this street Hidden Figures Way serves to remind us, and everyone who walks here […] of the standard that was set by these women, with their commitment to science and their embodiment of the values of equality, justice, and humanity.”


To book speaker Margot Lee Shetterly for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today.

Cleaning Earth’s Orbit: Lavin Speaker Danielle Wood Appointed Head of Space Sustainability Initiative

Much like the environment on Earth, conditions in space are worsening. Today, 20,000 pieces of debris are threatening the safety of our planet’s orbit. MIT Space Lab Director and Lavin Speaker Danielle Wood is leading the charge on a new Space Sustainability Rating developed to solve the problem.

There is a startling amount of debris circling our planet. Over 20,000 pieces of debris larger than 10 centimetersincluding abandoned rocket materials and inactive satellitesare piling up around the Earth’s orbit. Space congestion increases the risk of destructive collisions, threatening the safetey of active spacecrafts. In an effort to manage the growing waste issue, The World Economic Forum is launching the Space Sustainability Rating (SSR). Danielle Wood, Director of MIT’s Space Enabled Research Lab, is leading her team in the project alongside the Eurpean Space Agency (ESA). Much like the LEED certification in the construction industry, the goal of the SSR is to set a global standard for responsible behavior in space.


While there are already regulations in keeping the earth’s orbit clean through organizations like the FCC and the United Nations, the SSR will add another layer of accountability to the process of space travel. “It’s actually encouraging companies to try to beat each other in how good they behave, so they can build their brand,” Wood explained to The Verge.


Wood joined NASA in 2015, and was appointed as Director of MIT’s Space Enabled Lab in 2018. Her work focuses on using space technology to empower, protect, and advance our home planet.


To learn more about developments in space, visit our dedicated Astro speakers page. 

The Moon Landing Was Virtually Impossible. In One Giant Leap—Out Tomorrow—Charles Fishman Charts How We Arrived.

In 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went to the moon, and their skill, courage, and the moment itself has been well-documented in the 50 years since. But the astronauts weren’t the only ones who made the moon landing possible. In One Giant Leap—out tomorrow—Charles Fishman offers a behind-the-scenes account of the ordinary people who put in the unbelievable amount of hours, problem-solving, and innovation required to complete one of mankind’s greatest missions.

On May 25th, 1961, President John F. Kennedy promised the world the impossible: America would land a man on the moon in less than ten years. At the time, the nation had a grand total of fifteen minutes of manned space flight experience; it had no rocket big enough to fly to the moon, nor a computer small and powerful enough to navigate there. All the tools to get to the moon had to be invented and built from scratch. Though the space race presented “10,000 problems” for the men and women working on the ground, they tackled and overcame each one. In One Giant Leap, Charles Fishman tells the incredible story of Apollo 11 in a way that’s never been heard beforeand the impact it still holds.


Today, the moon landing seems like an inevitable triumph, but in 1961 it was a giant unknown. In the 50 years since mankind’s “giant leap,” we have washed away the decade-long journey that made it possible. Fisherman’s fresh and detailed account of the mission brings to life the astonishing effort it took to make that one small step. In eight years, 400,000 people put in 2.8 billion hours of work to achieve the unthinkable. Apollo 11 opened up the possibility of space exploration, but even more significantly, it ushered in the digital age we live in todaya legacy that is perhaps more valuable than the space age might have been. Most importantly, it offers us a guide for how humanity can mobilize to solve the world’s most epic and urgent problems.


To book Charles Fishman for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today.