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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ad Astra editor in chief Rod Pyle joins Leo to talk about today's SpaceX Transporter launch, where they set a new record by launching 143 satellites on a single launch. Most were small, microsatellites, others were standard satellite size. Interestingly, the satellites were in various trajectories, causing the launch vehicle to do a corkscrew trajectory to orbit to deploy. On top of that, Space X was able to land the booster for the fifth time in order to recycle it for a future launch. It was the 73rd recovery of the booster stage.
Rod Pyle joins Leo to talk about the latest Space news. Rod has joined the TWiT family as our official space correspondent. Rod got hooked on space during the Gemini program. Leo says it was hard not to, growing up with the Apollo program. But after, it seemed that NASA practically "went out of business." But we're now in a new space age thanks to SpaceX and getting a new launch just about every week. Rod also says that the new approach that includes reusing launch boosters, makes it cost as much as half or even a tenth of what it used to cost to launch a payload.
After a rain delay on Wednesday, SpaceX is poised to launch its first manned mission to the International Space Station with DM-2. Leo says that while critics say that money shouldn't be "wasted" on space exploration, Leo disagrees, saying that a tiny fraction of the federal budget goes to NASA and the Commercial Space Program, and the benefits of what we learn far outweigh what we spend, or the risk. And it always has.
Leo says that the Space X Falcon Heavy rocket launch, with two boosters automatically landing afterwards, was a triumph of engineering (even though one crashed in the ocean). The fun part was using Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster as ballast with a mannequin dressed in a spacesuit, playing Bowie's Space Oddity on the stereo. What a great test, and the PR stunt of the century for Tesla, with hundreds of thousands watching the live stream of StarMan orbiting the earth before heading off to Mars.