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 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.