Rod is back with more space news, particularly, that former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is planning on going on the first flight of Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft. Blue Origin has been testing the new Shepard rocket and capsule on a parabolic arc for several years and has reached the point to become man rated. So Jeff Bezos is not only taking the first flight but he's auctioned off the couch next to him for $28 million for someone to go with him. That's a lot for a 12-minute flight. But it's for charity.
Rod joins Leo to talk about the rover that China landed on the surface of Mars this week. And it's a big deal because up until now, the US largely had Mars to itself. Russia landed one, but it didn't stay alive long. So China's rover means that there's another country exploring the Red Planet. It also shows just how far the China Space Agency has come in a short time.
Rod joins Leo to talk about the latest in Space News. The big news was the Chinese Long March booster rocket, which put up the first module of China's space station and then reentered the atmosphere in an uncontrolled fashion. It ended up breaking up and crashing somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Rod says that China has had a cavalier attitude towards what happens to their rockets, and they are fast-tracking their space station with a damn the torpedos full steam ahead outlook, which Rod says is concerning.
From the fourth flight of a helicopter on Mars to a late-night splashdown of Space-X Crew 1, to the latest Starlink launch, to the loss of a great American space hero Mike Collins, it's been a busy week of space news. Rod says that the late-night splashdown was the first since Apollo 8. And the SpaceX splashdown was spot on, with SpaceX recovering the spacecraft within minutes. Meanwhile, as a proof of concept, the Mars Ingenuity helicopter has met all its goals for flying on the red planet.
This week's space news from Rod Pyle is that the Mars Inspiration helicopter drone made its second flight this week, and the Mars Ingenuity rover made oxygen out of the Martian CO2 atmosphere. It's a tiny experiment to see how to create oxygen for a manned mission to Mars. The experiment made enough O2 for an astronaut to breathe for 10 minutes. In the future, NASA will not only be able to create oxygen but rocket fuel from the Martian surface and store it for future missions.
Rod joins Leo to talk about NASA awarding SpaceX a $2.9 Billion contract to develop the Human Landing System for a return to the moon. Elon Musk says that Starship will go to the moon by 2023, and Musk is planning to build them at scale very soon along with its booster. But Rod thinks no earlier than 2025 or 26. The contract will certainly help speed that along.
In other space news, Ingenuity, the Mars helicopter drone, is scheduled to make its maiden flight at 12:30 PT. It'll fly up to 10 feet and hover for 20 seconds.
Rod joins Leo to talk about Space News. Today was supposed to be the day that Perseverance, the helicopter on the Mars Inspiration Rover was supposed to take flight. But it's been delayed until the 14th due to a software error in the blade control mechanism. And considering it has to fly autonomously, they want to be sure everything is ready to work perfectly. Rod says NASA is being extra careful. You don't want to crash on your first flight, even if it is only for 40 seconds.
Rod joins Leo to talk about the Perseverance rover that landed on Mars this week. The rover also has onboard an autonomous helicopter drone, the first flying drone on Mars. The helicopter is also running on Linux, a first for the space program. The helicopter is designed to take five flights and give JPL a bird's eye view of the area to plan out the route for the rover to travel autonomously.
In Space News, three Mars probes are arriving at the Red Planet in the next week. One is from NASA, then there's the Chinese Space Agency, and the third is from the UAE. NASA's Perseverance will have a huge Curiosity class rover, and it will be able to drill and take core samples, which can be returned to earth five years later. It's also going to be looking for fossils and live microbes.