Rod joins Leo to talk about the first SpaceX all civilian crew that will be launching this week. The Inspiration 4 mission will spend 3 days in high earth orbit and is the brainchild of Jared Isaacman, who is the commander of the mission. The crew was selected by Isaacman as part of a fundraiser for St. Jude's and included a former St. Jude's cancer survivor and Nurse. The launch is scheduled for Wednesday, September 15th.
Rod joins Leo to talk about Mars news. Perseverance finally managed to get a sample of a rock, which will be kept for a return mission at a later date. They're hoping by 2027-28, they'll be able to launch a new mission to return it. The less good news is that NASA's relationship with Russia's Space Agency is getting strained due to political issues. Russia feels slighted that they aren't part of NASA's return to the moon. Now they're talking to China, and that leaves the ISS in a state of limbo.
Rod Pyle joins Leo to talk about the launch of the Astra rocket, which started its launch inching sideways across the launch pad before going up. Astra is a small rocket start-up, launching its third attempt. What happened? Rod says that one of the give small engines failed, and it could only hover until it became light enough to start climbing. Eventually, the rocket had to be destroyed as debris began to fall off the rocket itself. So third time wasn't a charm for Astra. But Space is hard.
Rod returns to catch us up on what's happening on Mars. The Chinese Rover has had its mission extended past its original 90 days. Road says it's very impressive for a first mission. Meanwhile, the US Perseverance rover had its first drilling attempt to grab a sample to return home in a future mission. But the soil was so powdery; they have to move to another location and try again.
Rod Pyle joins Leo to talk about Tim Dodd (Everyday Astronaut), who got a tour of SpaceX's Starbase Rocket facility in Boca Chica, Texas. And his tour guide was Elon Musk. You can watch the three-part interview here. In other space news, Boeing has detached the Starliner, which has been having issues with its maneuvering thrusters before the second launch. 13 valves failed to open, and it looks as if there's severe corrosion due to moisture.
Rod Pyle joins Leo to talk about how Space X stacked their Starship and Super Heavy Booster this week, making it the largest rocket in history at just under 400' tall and 30' wide. It was part of a fit test, and the rocket was stacked for about an hour. It was a fantastic event to see live on YouTube. Plans are to launch it sometime in September or October, once they get clearance from the FAA. It'll have twenty-nine raptor engines on the Super Heavy booster, and six engines on Starship. And they are designed to be turned around and relaunched within an hour.
Rod joins Leo from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Rod is there for the International Space Settlement Design competition for high school kids. They give the kids a request for proposal and get them to design a Mars Settlement. The kids then figure out everything for the design over the course of three or four days. Rod is covering it for Ad Astra magazine, and he says that the kid's attention is rapt and intense. Check out spaceset.org for more information.
Rod is back to talk about the billionaire space cowboys who have recently gone up into "space." Not even orbiting, mind you, just going up in a popcorn-like trajectory. Both Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos have gone up in their own developed space ships, while Elon Musk is busy creating his spaceship to go to Mars. But are they really astronauts? The FAA doesn't seem to think so, having released new specifications of how high you have to get to be considered an astronaut.
Rod joins Leo to talk about Jeff Bezos' flight on July 20th in Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft, which will duplicate Alan Shepard's suborbital flight in 1961. He's also taking Wally Funk, who was tested in the 60s by the Lovelace Clinic with the same tests as the original Mercury astronauts. Rod will be speaking at Spacefest this year about how movies have predicted our spacefaring future.
Micah is a member of the Airplane Geeks Podcast and has a question for Rod Pyle. He thinks that what Richard Branson did was OK for an airline flight. But Jeff Bezos taking Wally Funk up to space on Blue Origin's New Shepard is just plain genius. Leo says he definitely wins the PR war since Wally Funk is one of the Mercury 13: women who took the same tests as the Mercury Astronauts but were never chosen to be astronauts.