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 Pyle is back after a negative reaction to his covid vaccine. Now that he's back, space news is backing up! SpaceX announced a private space mission funded by Jarod Eisman. What's interesting about it is that Sian Proctor, a self-styled "analog astronaut" doing ground studies and simulations on earth, was chosen for the Inspiration 4 crew.
Rod joins Leo to talk about the Space Launch System, which NASA plans to use to go back to the moon by 2027. This week, there was a successful test of the SLS main engines, which ran for over eight minutes straight. Rod says the Saturn V was very robust, and it only flew a few times before it was man-rated. That was known as "all-up testing," where they were testing everything all at once - a gutsy way to do it. NASA is taking a more incremental approach this time.
Rod joins Leo to talk about today's successful Space X Starlink launch and how it was the 9th launch using this particular booster. Rod also wants to talk about Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan.
Rod joins Leo to talk about how SpaceX's starship stuck the landing for the first time with SN10. Unfortunately, about 8 minutes later, it exploded. But it's definitely the next great step towards making space travel commonplace and affordable. And when it does, it'll be spectacular.
Since there's not much going on yet with the Mars Perseverance Rover, Rod joins Leo to talk about the next giant asteroid that's going to be passing close to the Earth soon. On March 21st, 2001FO32 is a big asteroid as big as the Golden Gate Bridge, which will pass within 1.3 million miles of Earth, technically considered a close approach. Ron says NASA is looking at ways to avoid being hit by one. Especially since we're overdue for a major strike. NASA is launching DART, the Double Asteroid redirection test, which will test technology to nudge an asteroid off course.
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.
Rod joins Leo to talk about mutant space plants. Plants that have been sent up to the ISS for testing have mutated, and when planted, they have discovered that they become hardier and can withstand harsher weather conditions. As such, plans are now in the works to create orbital greenhouses to change the environment in desert areas and increase farmland.