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.
In what was dubbed the "battle of the billionaires," Virgin Galactic's Sir Richard Branson became the first billionaire to touch space. Branson beat the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, by one week who is planning to launch on Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket. Bezos took the high road, wishing Branson best wishes as he plans to join the Virgin founder flying above the "Von Karman" line to become an official astronaut. Leo wonders what's the point of it all, though, since Alan Shepard was the first American in space doing the same kind of sub-orbital flight in 1961.
The latest battle for space is being waged by billionaires. Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin is up against Sir Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic. And it looks like Branson is going to beat Bezos into space, launching his reusable space plane Unity Sunday. Bezos will be going up a week later. Leo says it used to be the battle of who can build the biggest yacht. Now it's who launches in a spaceship. Meanwhile, Elon Musk has sold all his houses and is living in a trailer in Texas to oversee the development of the SpaceX Starship for a journey to Mars.
Wally Funk, whose real name is Mary Wallace, will become the oldest person to go into space when she joins billionaire Jeff Bezos for a suborbital voyage onboard the Blue Origin New Glen spacecraft. Wallace is also a member of the famed Mercury 13 group on women who underwent the same battery of tests as the original NASA astronauts, but who were never able to make it into space. Now, 60 years later, Wally gets her chance.
Rod joins Leo to talk about the latest UFO report, which was delivered this week. The news is that Mars dust is virtually everywhere in our solar system. Meanwhile, the office of national intelligence has released the preliminary assessment of UFOs/UAPs. It's a 9 page declassified report and the conclusion is, we don't know what it is. We know that it is. Rod thinks that they are drones that are being used to provoke the Navy to scan them so that they can learn about their evolving technology.