Archive for the 'NASA' Category

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.

Show recorded 4-15-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, Alex Shimp, and Kassy Tamanini

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This week we must sadly open with the news of the passing of John Glenn, whose list of accomplishments has been surpassed by none, serving America with honor both on and off our planet for almost all of his 95 years. Unfortunately, the news doesn’t get much better quickly as we discuss the recent failure of the Progress 65 resupply mission. We discuss the impact on ISS operations and the reliability of not just Progress, but other cargo resupply providers and what sort of payloads might be a bit more critical than others.

On the brighter side, we get an update on a SpaceX return to flight following their September 1, 2016 anomaly. Still brighter, after numerous attempts were thwarted by bad luck with weather and small glitches, Virgin Galactic completed the first free flight test of the VSS Unity, successfully gliding the new craft for the first time since the tragic loss of the VSS Enterprise.

Perhaps brightest of all, though, is our coverage from the successful launch of the first in a new line of extremely powerful weather satellites, NOAA/NASA GOES-R (now GOES-16). Our own Sawyer Rosenstein was at Cape Canaveral to capture the sights and sounds of what turned out to be a spectacular night launch, and you really don’t want to miss our exclusive audio on this one (grab the headphones!). 

Then again, what’s brighter (to us) than our own sun? Pulling double special-duty this week, Sawyer brings an exclusive interview with Terry Kucera, an astrophysicist from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Solar Physics Laboratory and the STEREO Deputy Scientist. She brings us an update on the recently-recovered STEREO-B and hits home the importance of and ongoing efforts in understanding our local variable star in the Space Age.

[An image gallery was added here. To view amazing images from the GOES-R launch, visit http://talkingspaceonline.com]

Show recorded 12-05-2016

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Kat Robison and Kassy Tamanini

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This week we’re (mostly) back to our regular programming, kicking off with two of our favorite subjects – the launches and landings of International Space Station crews, and it’s a busy season of shift changes via Kazakhstan. Since our last regular episode, we saw the conclusions of Expeditions 48 and 49 with some beautiful landings and the beginning of Expedition 50, with an additional 3 crewmembers scheduled to launch next week. Peggy Whitson, legendary astronaut, commander, and current holder of the record for spaceflight time for women, will not only add another long-duration mission to her impressive list of accomplishments, but will resume command for Expedition 51.

In other launch news, China’s Long March 5 joined the list of successfully-launched heavy lift vehicles last week while Worldview 4’s Atlas 5 launch issues spread across the country to affect GOES-R. It’s not all bad news for United Launch Alliance and their workhorse rocket, though, as Orbital ATK announced they will use it to launch another Cygnus on an ISS cargo mission. This time, rather than using it as a backup, it is for the additional rocket power enabling Orbital ATK pack a bit more cargo into Cygnus. Meanwhile, their competition, SpaceX, is narrowing down their investigation of the anomaly that took out the AMOS-6 mission, and is still planning to return to flight this year.

Moving from launches to space itself, we turn to NASA Goddard for some celebration and investigation. The Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) set yet another world record, this time for using GPS at the highest altitude. We also had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Noah Petro, also at NASA Goddard, about his background in lunar geology and the upcoming supermoon. Be sure to check out this cool visual! Finally, we close out this episode with a discussion of the successful failure of the ESA’s Schiaparelli lander.

Show recorded 11-07-2016

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Kat Robison and Kassy Tamanini

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This week we divert a little from our usual format to bringyou some very special information. Most importantly, we respond to listener Kevin Streitmatter, who was wondering where the candidatesfor President of the United States stand on our favorite issue. Since thewinner will set America’s space policy for the next 4-8 years and could deeplyaffect not only the current and future missions of NASA but the burgeoningcommercial space industry, knowing their positions on space is crucial for anyspace advocate. However, since space is hardly a hot campaign topic, findingthis information requires a bit of digging. Fortunately, we not only lay outand discuss the stated positions of the candidates on this episode, but KatRobison has turned our voterguide into a handy cheat sheet to help U.S. voters make an informeddecision, including links to great sources to learn even more.

Continuing our coverage of the 67th InternationalAstronautical Congress (IAC) from the previous episode, we dip into this year’stheme, Making Space Accessible andAffordable to all Countries by bringing you an exclusive interview with theCEO, Stefan Gardefjord, and Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing,Guillermo Bosch, of SSC, the umbrella ofthe Swedish Space Corporation and their varied group of companies. From their50-year history to what’s now and coming next, they lay out their vision forthe future of the industry and the role they can play in making access to spacea reality for a far wider range of clients.

Sometimes Talking Space doesn’t just cover the news butbecomes part of the story, as both our correspondents pulled double-duty bypresenting at IAC this year. First up, Kat Robison introduces her paper fromthe main conference, U.S. PolicyConsiderations on International Cooperation Beyond 2024. She considered thepotential paths for cooperation on projects beyond the International SpaceStation and the relationship between public statements by various spaceagencies and what might actually be possible. With human space flight to the moonand Mars on the tips of everyone’s tongues, what will succeed and who will beinvolved? Delving further into the moon, we focus in on some of the technicalpapers presented in the lunar exploration symposium and how both today’s andtomorrow’s space engineers and designers are working on sustaining life long-termon the moon and beyond.

Kat was also invited to present at the International StudentForum and she gives us some highlights of the other presentations at thatIAC-associated event before outlining her research into public opinion on space.While the data isn’t exactly rich, her efforts to bring together what there iscan give us some insight into what the general public is thinking about space,and you just might be surprised by some of the patterns she’s unearthing.

Studying public opinion is one part of understanding how toreach voters, Kassy Tamanini explores another fundamental aspect – grassrootsadvocacy for space issues. Her IAC paper, FolkSpace: Using Music to Advocate for Space to the Voting Public, outlines herown experiences with public engagement and the lessons that can be applied notonly to her efforts but grassroots outreach anyone can perform.

We at Talking Space hope this super-sized episode inspiresall of you, wherever you live or are from, regardless of political affiliationsor leanings, to use whatever talents you possess to engage with the politicalprocess as well as the people around you to support the exploration of space.

Show recorded 10-24-2016

Host Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Kat Robison, Kassy Tamanini

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We begin this episode with an ending, as Rosetta joined its companion, Philae, on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on September 30, with confirmation arriving at mission control in Darmstadt at 11:19 UTC. This is hardly a time for mourning, but rather the celebration of an ambitious mission accomplished and still more data to learn from. While we await those studies we invite you to check out the latest installment of Rosetta’s cartoon and the short film Ambition.

Meanwhile, back in the States, Orbital ATK was preparing to return the Antares to flight. Carrying their Cygnus cargo ship full of supplies headed to the International Space Station, this launch has been plagued by storms in the Atlantic and other delays, and our own Gene Mikulka headed down early to keep an eye on the process and discusses what this launch means for the launch facility, the area around it, as well as for Orbital ATK and NASA.

Speaking of recovering from mishaps, this brings us down to the Kennedy Space Center and the investigation of what happened with SpaceX’ AMOS-6. Was it the second stage helium tank… or could it have been sabotage? The Washington Post reports that an official from SpaceX wanted to investigate the roof of a United Launch Alliance building known as the SMARF. We discuss the rumors, innuendo, known facts, and when there might be some concrete answers that will allow SpaceX to prepare for future launches safely. Looking further ahead, how will this incident affect the larger space industry?

Looking still further ahead, we begin our coverage of the 67th International Astronautical Congress with a breakdown of Elon Musk’s presentation, Making Humans an Interplanetary Species with insights from in the room by Kat Robison and Kassy Tamanini. Is Musk’s plan to not only have SpaceX be the first to land on Mars but to move 100 people at a time to the red planet realistic? From the details he revealed (and didn’t) to the way the event was managed, we’ve got plenty to comment on.

An image was inserted here. To view it, visit http://talkingspaceonline.com.

Show recorded 10-10-2016

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, Kassy Tamanini

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On September 8 an Atlas V carrying the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission took off from Cape Canaveral and our own Sawyer Rosenstein brings you exclusive sounds and experiences right from the front row. This asteroid sample-collecting mission to Bennu aims to help us understand the origins of life, but this trip to the Kennedy Space Center also featured a look at the future – particularly technologies for in-situ resource collection and usage, recycling of all garbage generated in space, and otherwise enable long-distance human space travel and colonization. In addition, we have an early response to the NASA Office of the Inspector General report discussed in episode 808 (spoiler alert: it’s all about the money). While on the Cape, Sawyer also got a chance to check out LC-40, the scene of the recent SpaceX fast fire, and it’s not pretty. However, that’s apparently not slowing down Musk’s push toward Mars, nor ours. 

Scientists studying the features of Mars have published a paper radically changing the dates of when Mars had its most recent flowing waters, while another set studying rocks here on our own planet suspect that Marsquakes might be releasing bits of hydrogen into the Martian ground as they do here, which could have enormous implications for the red planet. Speaking of Musk, expectations for his highly-anticipated talk at the International Astronautical Congress next week in Guadalajara are just about all the space world is talking about already, and Kat Robison and Kassy Tamanini will be there to bring it to you. However, they’re hardly going just for that, both panelists will be presenting their own work at IAC and give us a preview of what they’ll be talking about. Watch our social media over the next week to hear about it all first, and of course, come back for the next episode of Talking Space for full coverage (after you’ve devoured this one, of course).

An image gallery was inserted here. To view it in its entirety, visit http://talkingspaceonline.com.

Show recorded 09-19-2016

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, Kassy Tamanini

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We talk about the ISS Expedition #48 crew returning to Kazakhstan via the Soyuz TMA20M capsule and upcoming crew and cargo missions. Gravitational waves are causing a ripple effect in the science community. LIGO and its' value, well the science community is recognizing a need for greater emphasis on this type research. The ESA Rosetta spacecraft finds the Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko less than a month before the end of the Rosetta mission. Adding to the list of found spacecraft, the NASA Deep SpaceTracking Network located spacecraft STEREO-B. Hopefully future news will include establishing positive control and resumption of solar science observation. JUNO is sending spectacular pictures of Jupiter including never before seen images of the Polar Regions. JUNO is changing our understanding of the planet in dramatic ways. Citizen science is real, check out JunoCam to learn what regular people have a voice in. We again discuss the cost paid per astronaut for NASA to use Roscosmos to launch and return our astronauts to the International Space Station. So sad too bad.

Speaking of bad, on September 1, 2016 SpaceX lost the AMOS-6 Falcon 9 rocket/payload on the pad during an engine test. Investigations into the SpaceX described “anomaly” are ongoing and as of September 17 no information has been updated on the SpaceX website since September 2nd (the day after the rocket was lost). The Talking Space crew talks more about this unfortunate “anomaly” than what we’ve heard from SpaceX so far. Investigations into these type events often take more time than one anticipates....#justsayin. The Talking Space Team reminisces about our 7 years of bringing news and more to you our listener. Thank all of you for joining us here.

Show recorded 09-06-2016

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Kassy Tamanini, Kat Robison

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This episode takes off with the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket carrying the second pair of satellites for the U.S. Air Force’s Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP). Looking ahead to the company’s next launch for the NASA mission OSIRIS-REX and even further to the test flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, we also discuss their not-quite-as-high-tech but welcome efforts to upgrade the company’s launch stream for the public. Continuing with the return of crewed spaceflight to American shores, we take a look at the results of the RS-25 engine firing test for NASA’s Space Launch System and upcoming tests for the program intended to take us to Mars. SpaceX’ launch of the JCSAT satellites rounds out a very busy August for the space industry before the month has even concluded.

At the other end of the launch process, spacewalkers Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins successfully installed the first International Docking Adapter on the ISS to enable docking of a variety of spacecraft, including the upcoming commercial crew vehicles.

As commercial access to the ISS increases there is an idea of extending the life of the station by selling it off when the space agencies involved end their cooperative agreements to keep the orbiting lab afloat. Is this feasible? Are there other options for using the station beyond the current plans and what would it take to make them happen? What is the future of not just the ISS but laboratories in orbit?

In the even nearer future, Russia has announced their plans to reduce the amount of cosmonauts on station just after news broke of plans to invest in researching a trip to the moon. Again, is this feasible? We discuss the relationship between dreaming and pragmatism when it comes to space exploration, particularly in the two premier spacefaring nations.

After all this speculation on the future of space exploration, we take a look back at the days when America was dreaming and preparing for all of this with the X-15. Mark brings our attention to the White Eagle Aerospace blog with just a little sample of the fascinating histories they are preserving over there. We highly recommend visiting the site, with a warning that you might not be able to pull yourself away for a few hours.

Show Recorded 08-22-2016

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, and Kassy Tamanini
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On our own return to flight episode, we discuss several upcoming events ; NASA’s Osiris Rex, a sample return mission to the asteroid Bennu is scheduled for launch on 8 September 2016. The team looks at the mission objectives and the unique configuration of the United Launch Alliance (ULA)  AtlasV carrying the spacecraft. SpaceX too is making news with two upcoming commercial launches out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. OrbitalATK is also returning it’s Antares booster to flight next month launching the Cygnus cargo craft from the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops.  We also explore a SpaceNews piece indicating that the USAF awarded two National Reconnaissance Office Launch Contracts for the DeltaIV rocket in 2020 and 2023 with SpaceX mysteriously not even filing a protest.

The NASA Advisory Council met during the final week of July and issued a warning concerning the Commercial Crew Program and the dangers of the program falling behind schedule. It may impact US ISS crew access. We also explore completely the recent Government Accounting Office Report on NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion Exploration Vehicle, criticizing budget estimates and schedule.

Don’t forget about the Upcoming Pleiades Meteor Shower, peaking on August 11th and 12th If you are inclined, take a look at a Kickstarter project  to help restore the observatory at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona  where Clyde Tombaugh discovered the dwarf planet Pluto.

Show Recorded 08-08-2016

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panel Members: Gene Mikulka and Mark Ratterman
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The Kepler Spacecraft ran into trouble last Friday but thanks to heroic effort by the team at  NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory,  Kepler’s search for Exoplanets can resume. We discuss the SpaceX Dragon Cargo Resupply Mission 8  and it’s cargo specifically the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) to be attached to the International Space Station.  SpaceX also proved at least part of their business model by landing the first stage of their Falcon 9 booster on a drone ship. We discuss the implications. At the  32nd Space SymposiumUnited Launch Alliance and Bigelow Aerospace announced a partnership to loft Bigelow’s B330 expandable modules in 2020, thus creating a new independent space station separate from the ISS without NASA. The team looks at this groundbreaking deal. ULA was also making news this week at the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF), presenting it’s blueprint for a cis-lunar economy once more independent of NASA. All of this looks at space not just a place for exploration but economic opportunity, the team discusses and explores what a future could look like. 

In the second half of the show, the team opens up part one of it’s NEAF roundup with David Shoemaker  of the Advanced LIGO Project  and Hans Koeningsmann of SpaceX  The second half of our NEAF roundup will be coming up in Episode 806.

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panel Members: Kassy Tamanini & Gene Mikulka

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