Archive for the 'Mars Exploration' Category

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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Show recorded 6-07-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelist: Kat Robison

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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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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.

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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).

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Show recorded 09-19-2016

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, Kassy Tamanini

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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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This Past week, The Expedition 45 Crew on board the International Space Station had to contend with a bit of a power wrinkle that may require a spacewalk next year to repair. They also observed a moment of silence (as do we) for those lost in the Paris Terrorist Attacks. Preparations continue for the Cygnus OA4 Cargo craft at the same time, NASA further delays the announcing the winners of the second round of Commercial Resupply contracts.  NASA Administrator Charles Bolden continues to be adamant that NASA will not take a lead role in Europe’s “lunar village”. Does that leave the door open for Federal Aviation Administration? What happened to the Martian atmosphere, NASA’s MAVEN in orbit around Mars has found the answer. The Martian Moon, Phobos may become rubble, and Virgin Galactic hires its first woman pilot, Kelly Latimer..

Show recorded 11-16-2015

Host this week: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panel Members: Mark Ratterman, Kassy Tamanini & Gene Mikulka

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The International Space Station celebrated its “crystal anniversary” of occupation on November 2nd, marking 15 years that humans have been continuously on board the orbiting facility. The Expedition 45 Crew paused to reflect on the anniversary and what it means for the future of space exploration going forward. During an investor conference call, CEO David Thompson of Orbital ATK says his company is on track for the Cygnus cargo vehicle to return to flight.  NASA released its findings into the October 28th 2014 Orbital ATK Antares launch mishap, we discuss the findings.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says his agency is “doomed” if “Journey to Mars” roadmap is abandoned. The Cassini spacecraft captures a plume from Saturn’s Moon Enceladus while making an historic close flyby. Finally we profile the humble beginnings of the Paragon Space Development Corporation.  

 Show recorded 11-02-2015

Host this week: Sawyer Rosenstein,

Panel Members: Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, Kassy Tamanini & Gene Mikulka

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In this special edition, the Talking Space Team puts the  66th Annual International Astronautical Congress which took place in Jerusalem, Israel between October 12th and 16th into focus. Our first stop is a paper presented by our own Kat Robison on the issues surrounding scientists communicating the importance and relevance of their own research to the public.  

The theme for IAC 2015 this year was "Space: The Gateway for Mankind's Future" and we review the various gateways starting to open though the International Space Station, leveraging cis-lunar space, and finally humanity declaring "Earth independence" setting sail for Mars. The episode includes commentary from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and new European Space Agency Director General Johann-Dietrich Wörner. On various concepts including analysis of NASA's Journey to Mars outline and ESA's vision for a permanent research outpost on the lunar surface

Commercial ventures were also a topic at IAC 2015 and the team examines a new launch services company, Bloostar with an interesting approach to placing 100 kg (220 lbs) payloads into orbit. 

We end our visit to Jerusalem with an interview Kat conducted with NASA astronaut Suni Williams who was selected to fly one of the first Commercial Crew missions to the International Space Station. 

Talking Space congratulates Kat Robison on her presentation at IAC 2015 and thanks both Kat and Kassy Tamanini for their work in preparing this episode.  

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So you want to be a Martian? On October 1st  NASA  held an event at the Kennedy Space Center to explain more about the agency's push to send the first humans to Mars and our own Mark Ratterman was there and provides insights. We highlight Two Deserts, One Sky a  project by Danielle Adams a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona, and briefly discuss  new solar power technology.   United Launch Alliance (ULA) puts 100 successful  launches in the books sending Mexico's Morelos-3 communications satellite into orbit on into orbit on October 2nd. However as the company looks toward Launch 101, the joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing heads into uncharted territory and uncertain waters as a launch services provider. The team discusses.the challenges that lay ahead for the firm.  


On September 28 NASA announced the confirmation that brine water has at certain times, been collecting on the surface of Mars.  The initial report made on 4 August 2011 (which we discussed   on Episode 334 )  was confirmed with a NASA press conference  and the team examines the announcement itself, the reaction to the announcement  in some circles, and   the implications not only for NASA's planned human Mars exploration efforts, but for the future of human solar system exploration going forward.  


Host this week: Sawyer Rosenstein, 

Panel members:  Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, Kassy Tamanini (CraftLass) & Gene Mikulka

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HTV5 launched recently supporting International Space Station resupply, successfully docking on 24 August, 2015. To learn more about the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency HTV Program see http://iss.jaxa.jp/en/htv/index.html Future ISS resupply will also be supported by Orbital ATK via ULA's ATLAS V carrying the Cygnus capsule to Station. Dates have not been set yet for those launches.

Kat brings us some news about the Mars One Project and a public debate at the recently concluded Mars Society Conference to read more and for links to the video of the debate “Is Mars One Feasible?” check out this Tech Insider article http://www.techinsider.io/mars-one-mit-students-mission-not-feasible-debate-2015-8

Mark after reading the NTSB Accident Report for Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two brings us his thoughts about that tragic test flight. To learn more about the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation follow this link http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/

Listen close and you’ll almost see the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex “Forever Remembered” Exhibit. Gina Herlihy talks about her experience of seeing it for the first time. If you have not seen this yet you’ll find you can’t wait for your next trip to Florida’s Space Coast and KSC.

Sawyer spoke with International Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini just prior to his retirement. News about the ISS is always interesting. Hear what we think about increasing the ISS to a seven person crew and going beyond 2024.

Show Recorded 8/24/2015

Host this week: Sawyer Rosenstein. Panel members: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, Kathryn Robison and Gina Herlihy

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