Episode 905: 2 Launches, 2 Landings, 2 Days

On this episode of Talking Space, we discuss a "double header" launch weekend for SpaceX, although we learn not to  use that phrase around a certain panel member. We discuss the effort it took for an east and west coast Falcon 9 launch with two barge landings over one weekend and what it means for the company and the entire industry. We then discuss an Indian launch carrying along an impressive array of CubeSats, and look at what vehicles are taking up these smaller payloads and if there's a market for them. We then look at some sounding rocket launches out of New Mexico and one particularly stubborn one out of Wallops Island, Virginia. We then move onto a recent failure of a Chinese Long March 3B upper stage and look into what the cause might be and if we'll ever find out.

We then take a mid-year look at NASA and their latest plans for future exploration. We begin with the cutting of the Asteroid Recovery Mission (ARM) and whether this was a smart idea or if science is being missed out on as a result. We also look at claims that NASA may not be as focused on Mars as a priority destination, and discuss the competition from private companies also aiming to get to Mars and sooner. Lastly we discuss a major milestone in NASA's attempt to create a quieter Supersonic Transporter, called QueSST 

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Episode 904: Fire Re-Breathing Dragon Flies

On this very special episode of Talking Space, we primarily focus on the recent launch of CRS-11, which our own Sawyer Rosenstein was at. First, we discuss the announcement of NASA's 12 new astronauts after the largest application pool in history. We then discuss the recent launches of India's GSLV 3, Japan's H-II A, and New Zealand's Electron. We also discuss the announcement that the US Air Force's X-37B will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 as opposed to the usual Atlas V.

During our CRS-11 coverage, we have for the first time in Talking Space history, both launch and landing audio of a Falcon 9 rocket and its first stage. We asked SpaceX's VP of Mission Assurance about the actual cost savings of flying a flight proven Dragon spacecraft. We then get to learn about the amazing science on this mission and the ISS. We hear from Dr. Karen Ocorr on the Fruit Flies 2 experiment. We hear from the head of the Air Force's project called ROSA, the Roll Out Solar Array. We also get an update on all the science happening aboard the ISS from the Associate Program Scientist for the ISS Camille Alleyne and get an insight into how much of an impact NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is having on science.

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Episode 903: Micro, Heavy, and Everything In-Between

On this episode of Talking Space, we discuss how SpaceX's Falcon 9 delivers again sending the Inmarsat 5-4F Communications satellite into its proper orbit. The company also tested the core stage of its Falcon Heavy booster slated for a hopeful debut this year. A SpaceX employee was also in the news with some interesting words for the competition and what may have been a  mild rebuke of NASA Space Launch System. We report on NASA's 200th Spacewalk in support of ISS operations and in particular an enthusiastic NASA astronaut in Jack Fischer

Vector Space Systems Conducted a successful test flight of its Vector-R booster capeable of carrying 50 Kg (110lbs) to low Earth orbit and set to take on CubeSat and microsat market. We examine the implications. During a May 12 press conference, NASA's Human Spaceflight Office announced the results of a study requested by the Trump NASA Landing Team, answering the question could the first mission for the Space Launch System carry humans? We discuss the press conference conducted by Robert Lightfoot, Interim NASA Administrator and William Gerstenmaier NASA Associate Administrator for Human Spaceflight answering the question will Exploration Mission 1 be piloted. We give you the answer and analysis of why the decision was made.

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Episode 902: FIRST Place and News About Space

On this extra packed episode of Talking Space, we discuss the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the classified NROL-76 satellite. We also address a tweet sent to us regarding our view on SpaceX, a comment we get quite often and wanted to address. We also discuss the arrival of the Cygnus resupply vehicle to the International Space Station, and the return of a 4K camera from the station. This reportedly allowed more detailed science documentation, but our opinion of 4K, including the first live 4K broadcast from space? You'll have to listen. 

We then address some shake-ups happening at Roscosmos, and why one of the most decorated cosmonauts is choosing to leave. We then discuss the first of 22 dives taken by Cassini into the space between the rings of Saturn and what we're hoping to get as it nears its "Grand Finale". Of course, we had to discuss the announcement that the launch of NASA's SLS is now set for 2019, coming shortly after a report from the GAO stating that 2018 was highly unlikely. It's not just the rockets that are facing issues, but so are the aging spacesuits used by NASA.

Finally, we discuss Mark's time at the FIRST Robotics Championships in Houston, Texas. Mark discusses the tech inn, the Program Executive for Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters. You'll also hear from Cathy Olkin, the Deputy Project Scientist for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Deputy Principal Investigator for NASA’s Lucy mission to study Trojan asteroids.

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Episode 901: Rockets and Moons, How NEAF!

This season launches with, well, a look at a few launches. First up is OA-7, the second launch of a commercial cargo flight featuring Orbital ATK’s Cygnus atop a ULA Atlas V rocket. The International Space Station is living up to the last word in the name with the departure and  arrival of new crews as well, including the launch of a Soyuz carrying 2 NASA astronauts, first-timer Jack Fisher and storied veteran Peggy Whitson. For the latter, this trip will result in yet another few barriers broken for women and all humans alike as she settles in for a long stay in orbit. Just because this is his first trip to space, though, doesn’t mean Jack Fischer doesn’t have plenty to say already, and we bring you part of an exclusive unaired interview with him in celebration of his first trip to the laboratory. On the other side of Russian rocketry, reports indicate that there are issues with not just a few Proton engines but all of them. What implications could this have, not only for future Proton flights but for Russian aerospace as a whole? Meanwhile, while we’ve been on hiatus, SpaceX has managed to get one step closer to their vision of reusability by carrying the CRS-9 cargo towards the ISS by successfully relaunching a booster that had already been to the station.

From new beginnings we move to a spectacular mission that will be coming to a close soon with the latest findings about Enceladus from Cassini. The liquid plumes escaping through the moon’s icy shell have now been shown to contain molecular hydrogen (H2), generating increased questions about the possibility of organic matter in the hidden oceans. Meanwhile, similar plumes have been spotted on Europa using data from the Hubble Space Telescope which, while not yet able to be analyzed for chemical content, makes us wonder all the more if we just might not be truly alone even in our solar system, even if our only non-terrestrial neighbors would be microorganisms. Continuing with the search for potential habitability outside Earth, we begin our dive into this year’s Northeast Astronomy Forum with the search for exoplanets in the “Goldilocks” zone and the work of MIT planetary scientist and astrophysicist Sara Seager, her team, and the citizen scientists of planethunters.org. Planet hunting is hardly the only way amateur enthusiasts can contribute, though, and astrophotography is not only an area where amateurs can contribute significantly to scientific knowledge but can even make you a different sort of professional. Robert Reeves is just a guy with a camera who fell in love with imaging the moon decades ago and is now known as one of its best portrait-takers. We share a few of his tips and tricks and encourage you to take a look around the internet for his images. While we ramp up to this year’s main astronomical event for America, the total solar eclipse in August, our friend Alex Shimp brings us more about the talk by Joe Rao, FiOS1 meteorologist, on his experiences with eclipses. Swinging back around to launches, we finish up NEAF by discussing the latest news from United Launch Alliance about their commercial crew plans and the designs they are currently working with for these new systems. Finally, we check in with our own Mark Ratterman on what it’s like to volunteer with a FIRST Robotics team on their way to the championships to bring this super-sized season premiere to a feel-good close.

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