Archive for the 'Physics' Category

On this very special episode of Talking Space, we discuss something very few people have ever experienced, Zero Gravity. However, 12 Zero-G flyers just made history.

12 ambassadors for "Mission: Astro Access" completed the first ever microgravity flight for people with disabilities. That includes people who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/low vision, and have mobility disabilities. Among the flyers is our own host, Sawyer Rosenstein. He invited some of the participants onto the show to discuss the mission.

The flight itself involves 15 parabolas aboard a Zero Gravity Corporation plane with one Martian, two Lunar and 12 "Zero-G" parabolas.

That includes the selection process, the training before flight, and the objectives during the flight. We find out what worked, what didn't, and the simple modifications that can be made to make spaceflight accessible to so many more people. We also discuss the future, where we hope this program goes in the future, and the changes we all hope to see as a result of this historic first mission.

To learn more about AstroAccess and to consider donating to help fund a second flight, visit

To read Sawyer's full recount of the flight, check out the article by clicking here.

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, and special guests Dana Bolles and Dr. Sheri Wells-Jensen

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This episode is full of plenty of rockets and missions going up....and one that went down explosively.

On this episode, we begin with two crew launches. First the Soyuz MS-18 mission and why an American astronaut was added only a few months before launch. Plus a quick look ahead to Crew-2 aboard a Crew Dragon, and a possible new tradition started by the crew.

Next it's on to Mars, where the Ingenuity helicopter is set to take off. This isn't just significant for future Mars exploration. We go into the potential historical impact of a mini helicopter flying on another world.

Then it's onto the nominee for NASA's next administrator, former Senator Bill Nelson (D) Florida. Former administrator Jim Bridenstine thinks it's a good pick, but what does the panel think?

Then it's onto SpaceX. First, the farewell to Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief, the fairing recovery ships. What does this mean for reusability.

Last but no least, it's all about SN-11, the Starship test flight from Boca Chica (or Starbase depending on your preference) Texas. The mission went up under heavy fog before exploding before landing. What does this mean for the program? Can you still get enough data from just telemetry as opposed to visuals? What led to the decision to fly on that day and how is the FAA somehow involved? Also, is SpaceX learning from these test flights or is it just for show? We look at all these questions and more.

Show recorded 4-7-2021

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman,


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It's not just about getting to the sun, it's about the people behind the mission making it all happen. That's what this episode of Talking Space is all about.

We speak with four integral members of the Parker Solar Probe team. The mission launched successfully in early August. To hear more about the mission along with the spectacular Delta IV Heavy launch audio, be sure to check out Part 1 in Episode 1007.

In this episode, we begin speaking with Dr. Adam Szabo, the mission scientist for Parker Solar Probe. From him we learn more about the mission objectives, how the gravity assist will be different from those in the past, and how PSP fits in with the host of solar observing missions already in orbit.

Next, we speak with David McComas of Princeton University who is in charge of the ISʘIS experiment. We discuss more about the role of the instrument, along with his excitement, plus a person "struggle" so-to-speak that's he's used to his advantage and hopes to share with others.

Then, we hear from two of the mission's leads immediately following the successful liftoff. That includes project scientist and soon to be head of Heliophysics at NASA Nikki Fox and Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen about the status of the mission and what's next for the spacecraft as it nears its first Venus encounter to help slow it down.

Stay tuned for Part 3, following our normal news episode, featuring a Q&A which you can only hear in high quality in its entirety here with Dr. Eugene Parker. The session was held for a very limited audience before launch and has never been aired in its entirety, so stay tuned!

Show recorded 8-19-2018

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelist: Gene Mikulka with special guest interviews recorded on location at the Kennedy Space Center.

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This week we take a journey from the halls of Congress out through our solar system, and then journey out to a point 1.3 billion light years away from home. On February3rd, the Space Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology met to discuss the current status of NASA’s Journey to Mars, and how it may survive past the current presidential administration. We examine the winners and losers in the 2017 NASA budget proposal. NASA announces the Exploration Mission 1 Launch Director and we discuss the Cygnus OA-6 Mission launch delay.

The Year In Space increment on board the International Space Station is coming into the home stretch, while back on Earth, the primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is completed.

European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission continues, but without the Philae lander that made landfall on Comet 67P in November. There has been no response from Philae since July and ESA has announced they will stop trying to contact the spacecraft. We discuss some of the highlights and lessons learned from this milestone mission.  NASA releases  a terrain map of Pluto’s ‘heart’ region, based on New Horizon’s spacecraft data , revealing a few big surprises.

The final story: the discovery of gravitational waves from the collision of two massive black holes. These waves reached our own planet this past September and were detected by the freshly-upgraded advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), providing the first proof of parts of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. What does this mean and why is it so exciting? We break it down for you

The LIGO comic by Talcott Starr discussed in the episode can be found here and make sure to give it a like if you enjoy it.

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Kat Robison and Kassy Tamanini

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On this episode of Talking Space, we countdown 3, 2, 1, as we did on May 16th live on Astronomy.FM reporting on the final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. We go into a deep discussion on the subject of STS-134's timeline and payloads, including the spectacular Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS. We then move on to talk about a US Senate hearing on human spaceflight and national security. Listed below is the transcripts of Frank Slazer, Dr. Christopher Chyba, and Capt. Frank Culbertson. We then move on to the case of the busted lunar sample seller, and lastly provide the final result of the BTS-1 mission onboard their Inspiration 1 capsule.

The links to the testimonies of the following people to the US Congress are available on

Dr. Christopher Chyba, Professor of Astrophysics and International Affairs, Director, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University

Captain Frank L. Culbertson Jr., Astronaut and former Commander of the International Space Station

Frank Slazer, Vice President of Space Systems, Aerospace Industries Association

The link to the updates on BTS-1 from Camilla herself can be read at

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

Show Recorded - 5/22/2011

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On this episode, we begin with STS-134 and the Flight Readiness Review setting the launch date and time as April 29th at 3:47pm EDT. Endeavour will be launching on her final mission carrying the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) and a special payload which survived the Columbia disaster in 2003. We then move on to NASA's CCDev, or the Commercial Crew Development Agreement, and who will be getting money supporting their concepts ranging from $22 million to $92 million. Lastly, we get into a heated argument about an editorial posted online and in the New York edition of the New York Times calling the space shuttle Enterprise, which will soon be housed at the Inrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York city, a pile of garbage and a hand-me-down.

The article to which is referenced from the New York Times is available online at

Don't forget to tune in to at 3pm EDT on April 29, 2011 for LIVE STS-134 launch coverage! Even if you can't make the live launch, check out the site, which replays our podcasts throughout the week, but the difference is, you can chat with other fans live in their chatroom.

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

Show Recorded - 4/24/2011

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On this episode, we talk about AMS-02. We discuss the history, cost, some basics of the instrument, how it is installed and activated. We include audio from several NASA Briefings on AMS-02 from the following:

Prof Samuel Ting, AMS Principal Investigator from MIT

Trent Martin, NASA AMS Program Manager from JSC

Mark Kelly, Commander of STS-134

Our own Talking Space - Mark Ratterman brings first hand information from three NASA media events at KSC and an up close picture of AMS in the Space Station Processing Facility

AMS-02 the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer has been dubbed the Hubble Telescope of cosmic rays

For further information check out: and

For the AMS02 Briefing Materials:

For video of the AMS-02 Briefing at JSC

Hosts this week: Gene Mikulka and Mark Ratterman Show Recorded - 04/21/2011

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On this episode, we talk a lot of rockets! We start by discussing the stringer issue on STS-133. After discussing its launch date, we move on to another way it can be delayed. Lead spacewalker and STS-133 astronaut Tim Kopra was injured while riding his bicycle. We then talk about Mark Kelly asking for a backup while he tends to his injured wife, Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Following that, we talk about the Soyuz TMA-21, now being named Yuri Gagarin. Listen to find out why. We then go into a tough debate on the proposed Heavy Lift Vehicle. Lastly, we discuss the board of directors at a spaceport in New Mexico and antimatter in thunderstorms.

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Below is the video discussed by Mark. This video was made by NASA Goddard Flight. To download these types of short video podcasts, visit

A video was inserted here. To view it, please visit

Host this week: Sawyer Rosenstein. Panel Members: Gene Mikulka and Mark Ratterman

Show Recorded - 1/16/2011

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On this episode, we discuss the troubles preventing Discovery from flying on her final voyage. We talk about the cracks discovered in the external tank and what this could do to a launch date. We also discussed the recent Expedition 26 spacewalk aboard the International Space Station. We then delve into more space policy dilemmas as well as budgetary issues for the James Webb Space Telescope, the replacement for the aging Hubble Space Telescope. Lastly, we talk about some amazing finds by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory finding a newborn black hole.

Host this week: Gene Mikulka. Panel Member: Mark Ratterman

Show Recorded - 11/15/2010

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On this episode, the whole team of four is back in action. First, we discuss Mark's visit to the Assembly and Refurbishment Facility (ARF) for the final mating of the External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters for STS-134 scheduled for launch in February 2011. Many former members as well as astronauts were there for the occasion and we have audio clips from them, as well as the team's reaction. We also discuss the passing of NASA's budget. However, it's not appropriated yet, so it is still unofficial. We discuss our reactions to what is actually in the budget. We then move on to the finding of a "Goldilocks Zone" planet possibly able to harbor life. As well, we wish NASA a happy 52nd birthday and congratulate our good friend Miles O'Brien on his new job as the science correspondent for the PBS News Hour.

Please note: The outro music is copyright Thin Lizzy and Vertigo Records. Talking Space is in no way associated with Vertigo Records and the audio clip is used under Fair Use.

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

Show Recorded - 10/3/2010

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