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A Free and Open Exchange of Ideas and Opinions on All Things Space: Now at!



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Episode 1611: Dissimilar Redundancy

NASA has tried to get Extra Vehicular Activity Number Ninety underway since June 13th. The first attempt was thwarted by a space suit comfort issue, the second by a water leak that created a blizzard of ice inside the Quest airlock. Are the Shuttle-Era Extra Vehicular Mobility Units (EMU) or space suits finally showing their age? Also, what about Collins Aerospace and their recent withdrawal from their NASA contract to build the next generation of space suits for the ISS and the Artemis Lunar Program when they indicated back in February that all was going well? We discuss. On June 17th, the FAA held a virtual public hearing to receive comments concerning SpaceX’s plans to use Launch Complex 39-A and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to support Starship Super Heavy Launches. We discuss what occurred during the session and the fallout from statements put into the record by both Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance. Talking Space continues our Boeing Space CST-100 Starliner Crewed Flight Test coverage. The team continues to examine the “Starliner is Stuck at the ISS” misconceptions and asks what NASA & Boeing Space could have done to alleviate such headlines. We also look at a detailed explanation posted on Twitter from Jim May, a Boeing Engineer who was part of the NASA-TV coverage, of why “Calypso” remains on the ISS. The basis of his discussion comes from the actual NASA flight certification plan. Heather Smith mentions the observations of a NASA flight director and his assessment of how Starliner performed during its first actual safe-haven exercise. All this and more in this edition of Talking Space! (Recorded July 5th, 2024) Host: Larry Herrin Panel Members: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, Heather Smith


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Episode 1610: How GOES-U?

The Geosynchronous Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-U, launched at 5:26 PM EDT on 25 June 2024 from Launch Complex 39 A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. A SpaceX Falcon Heavy took the 6000-pound satellite to its geostationary orbit in the Western Hemisphere. After a commissioning process, GOES –U will be renamed GOES 19 and take over the GOES EAST duties, standing sentinel, watching for severe storms, hurricanes, and wildfires. A unique option on this spacecraft: it can keep an eye on Coronal Mass Ejections or CMEs from the Sun. This episode is an all-you-can-eat GOES fest, complete with GOES-U Falcon Heavy launch audio at the beginning and a related special audio treat at the end of the episode. Mark Ratterman was at the Kennedy Space Center press site representing Talking Space during launch activities and was able to talk to several key players of the GOES-U team. In this episode you'll hear from: John Gagosian - Director, NASA Joint Agency Satellite Division Krizia Negron - Language Program Lead, National Weather Service Office of Science and Technology Integration, NOAA Chris Reith - Program Manager, Advanced Baseline Imager, L3-Harris Technologies Mr. Reith is also working on NOAA's follow-up to the GOES series: The GeoXO program Ken Graham – Director, National Weather Service If you wish to take a look at what the GOES satellites have seen and how their images have evolved over the years, NOAA has on their website a "Cool Image Retrospective" page, have a look here. Please be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at You now also have a way to easily send us a voice recording that we may use on the show: just click on the blue microphone icon at the bottom right of any of our web pages at Show recorded 07-03-2024. Host: Larry Herrin Segment Producer: Mark Ratterman Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Heather D. Smith Podcast Editor: Gene Mikulka GOES-U Falcon Heavy – website photo credit: NASA


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Special Episode 1609A: Boeing's Starliner is NOT in Peril.

“Starliner Stuck In Space!!!”, “Starliner Stranded at the ISS!!”, “Space-X To Rescue Starliner Crew!!!” These were the various outrageous headlines being thrown around by various space media outlets this week, concerning the Boeing Starliner Mission and its progress. None of these sensational headlines are true, the ship and crew are in good condition but the media claims that the Starliner mission is in a grave situation, remain. In this special edition of Talking Space, Gene Mikulka and Heather Smith take the time to sort through the chaff that is out there about the mission and offer insight into what is going on. We explore why it is not just the usual social media suspects perpetuating the myth about a broken spacecraft and a “crew in peril” but mainstream media has been jumping on the same bandwagon. There have been some exceptions to the rule the social media rule: the YouTube channel Overlook Horizon released a fairly good video explaining some of the mission details that we also touch on, in this installment. The video does speculate what a Dragon rescue might look like, however, our show does not examine that possibility. Given the information that NASA and Boeing have presented in thier joint press conferences, such speculation on our part was not needed or required. As of this writing, Starliner remains docked to the ISS, in a good, healthy state, ready to support crew return. Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams continue to support the balance of the Expedition 71 crew in their ISS science and maintenance duties. Our usual format picks up next time with an upcoming deep dive into the GOES-U launch and more! Host Gene Mikulka Panel Member: Heather Smith


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Special Report: Starliner Status as of June 23, 2024

A quick special report on the status of the joint NASA/Boeing Starliner Mission based on a Blog Post prepared by NASA and Boeing for our listeners.


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Episode 1609: Double Stars Rising

After years of development, testing, disappointment, and perseverance, NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Willams took Boeing's CST 100 Starliner to the International Space Station for its first flight with a human crew. The team discusses all facets of the launch, rendezvous, docking (not without its moments of drama), and public reaction to the mission thus far. Also this week, the fourth test flight of the SpaceX Starship Super-Heavy booster and a re-entry test of the Starship vehicle itself. The super-heavy vehicle is critical for NASA's Artemis lunar landing program, and a derivative of Starship was selected by NASA to be the human lunar lander used on Artemis III. The team puts the fourth Starship test into perspective. Starship development was also critical for the SpaceX/ Yusaku Maezawa dearMoon program, which was to take Maezawa and eight invitees into orbit around the Moon. However, Maezawa announced that since a 2023 launch had become "unfeasible" and lacked a "clear schedule," he was canceling the program. The announcement drew some ire in the space community, and we examine the fallout. One of The Hubble Space Telescope's three gyroscopes used to point the telescope to distant objects has failed. We look at a Media Telecon where NASA's astrophysics leader, Dr. Mark Clampen, indicated the agency will continue to utilize Hubble in a "one gyro mode" so the iconic telescope can still deliver good science with only a 20% loss of capability. The orbiting telescope is in overall good health and should continue to operate until 2035. At the same teleconference, Dr. Clampen announced that NASA has no intention of launching a Hubble servicing or re-boost mission in the foreseeable future. This news ends the SpaceX/Polaris plan to launch a possible servicing mission to the telescope. A May 2024 NPR article by Nell GreenfeldBoyce also reported NASA's concerns about the unsolicited proposal. Sadly, the past few episodes have ended in obituaries, and that trend continues. The team takes a few moments to remember NASA Apollo 8 Astronaut William Anders, who died in a plane crash this past weekend. All this and more in this edition of Talking Space! UPDATE ONE: During the show, we reported that the new undock date for Starliner was on 22 June. After we published, NASA and Boeing decided to do some more analysis on the thruster issues experienced during last week's docking to the ISS. To understand the Starliner Service Module more, ( the service module does not return ) NASA and Boeing have now indicated that Starliner will undock from the ISS at 10:10 PM EDT on Tuesday, June 25th with a landing planned at the White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico at 4:51 AM EDT on June 26th. UPDATE TWO: In A Blog Post Today (21 June 2024) NASA and Boeing Space announced that they are waiving the return date of 26 June for Starliner, with a new date to be announced at a later time. To quote the NASA blog post: " The move off Wednesday, June 26, deconflicts Starliner’s undocking and landing from a series of planned International Space Station spacewalks while allowing mission teams time to review propulsion system data." Steve Stitich, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager said “We are strategically using the extra time to clear a path for some critical station activities while completing readiness for Butch and Suni’s return on Starliner and gaining valuable insight into the system upgrades we will want to make for post-certification missions.” NASA Reports that Starliner remains healthy and that CFT Crew Members Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams continue to support the Expedition 71 Crew with their activities on the International Space Station. Talking Space will continue to follow the story as it develops. Host: Gene Mikulka Panel Members: Mark Ratterman, Heather Smith


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Episode 1608: Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

May 6th was going to be the date that Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Sunni Williams were going to take the Boeing CST 100 Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station for the first time with astronauts on board. Starliner has undergone a rather stormy development period and is several years behind schedule as a result but NASA, Boeing, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) teams after the earlier flight readiness review were confident that the spacecraft was ready for crewed flight. The mission also marked the first time since Leroy Gordon Cooper’s Mercury-Atlas 9 on May 15th, 1963, that a human was going to ride to orbit on the “shoulders” of an Atlas launch vehicle. Even the weather for the attempt on May 6th was 95 percent “go.” Unfortunately, the May 6th date was not to be. A cranky valve on board the Second Stage (Centaur Stage) of the ULA Atlas V kept Starliner on the ground. We explore what exactly happened, put the event in context, and gauge public reaction on various social media outlets. We also take a look at a rather explosive claim from a New York-based NASA contractor, ValveTech, about the component in question and debunk the Company’s claims. If you live in North America, did you catch the aurora this past weekend? A Class 4 Geomagnetic storm was the cause, the first Class 4 solar storm warning issued by NOAA since 2005. NOAA called a press conference about potential impacts on Friday, May 10th, calling the event “potentially historic.” What were the impacts here on Earth or did it pose issues for the International Space Station? We discuss. The US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the FAA Reauthorization Act which extends the period where the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) would be limited from regulating the safety of commercial human spaceflight, more commonly known as the “learning period.” Also, the FAA announced public meetings to occur next month to get public comments on an Environmental Impact Study on allowing Starship Super Heavy launches from NASA's Launch Complex 39A. All comments should be submitted by one of the methods listed under "ADDRESSES" in the linked document no later than June 24, 2024. We examine both stories. Tokyo’s Astroscale announced that it had conducted the first rendezvous with a spent rocket upper stage in Earth Orbit. The idea is to understand how such an object behaves as a prelude to determining how to dispose of such an object properly. We take a brief look at their plans. All this and more in this edition of Talking Space! Please be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at You now also have a way to easily send us a voice recording that we may use on the show: just click on the blue microphone icon at the bottom right of any page at Show recorded 05-12-2024. Host: Larry Herrin Panelist(s): Gene Mikulka, Heather Smith (Mark Ratterman, Dr. Kat Robison and Sawyer Rosenstein will return) Podcast Editor: Larry Herrin Space Debris – website photo credit: Astroscale Aurora Borealis -- website photo credit: Dr. Kat Robison NOTE: As of the recording date of the episode, the next launch attempt for Starliner was May 17th. That has since been changed. Due to a stubborn helium tank system leak, the latest date: NET May 25th at 3:09 PM EDT (1909 UTC). This new date is tentative as of this writing, and is subject to change.


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Episode 1607: Staying Healthy in Space: Unpacking the GEARS Experiment

In this special episode of Talking Space, we delve into a rarely discussed, but crucial aspect of living in space: health and sickness. We're putting the spotlight on the unique challenges posed by bacterial and viral infections aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and future long-duration missions. We're bringing you a deep dive into a groundbreaking experiment, GEARS (Genomic Enumeration of Antibiotic Resistance in Space), recently transported to the ISS. What is the aim of this experiment? How can analyzing the genetic makeup of antibiotic-resistant microbes in space help us on Earth? Joining us for this insightful conversation are Dr. Sarah Wallace, a NASA microbiologist at the Johnson Space Center’s Biomedical research and Environmental Sciences Division Microbiology Laboratory, and Dr. Christopher Carr, co-director of the Georgia Tech Astrobiology Program. They'll shed light on the history of sickness on the ISS, the precautions in place, and the worst-case scenarios of illness or injury that have occurred. How do astronauts maintain personal hygiene in space? What kind of medical supplies are available aboard the ISS? Tune in to find out. We're also discussing the specifics of the GEARS experiment. What unique insights can we glean from the genetic makeup of bacteria in space? How will this knowledge shape the future of long-duration space missions? With the advent of commercial LEO destinations, how is the space industry preparing for microbial challenges? What discussions are under way to make new stations more resistant to accumulating microbes? Lastly, we tackle the ultimate Doomsday medical scenario: What would happen in case of a serious illness outbreak on the ISS or during a long-term flight to Mars? We'll discuss how scientists are trying to mitigate the potential dangers of bringing Earth germs to another planet and the risks of bringing something dangerous back to Earth. Don't miss this episode of Talking Space as we navigate the intriguing world of health and sickness in space. Please be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at You now also have a way to easily send us a voice recording that we may use on the show: just click on the blue microphone icon at the bottom right of any page at Show recorded 04-18-2024. Host: Larry Herrin Panelist(s): Mark Ratterman (Gene Mikulka, Dr. Kat Robison and Sawyer Rosenstein will return) Podcast Editor: Larry Herrin GEARS experiment – website photo credit: Planetary eXploration Lab (PXL) Sarah Wallace - website photo credit: NASA Christopher Carr - website photo credit: Planetary eXploration Lab (PXL)


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Episode 1606: Delta 4 Heavy Recap; Coping with Mars Sample Return Budget

Welcome to another episode of Talking Space, where we bring you the latest updates on space exploration and technology. In this episode, we're excited to introduce our new team member, Heather Smith, who brings her passion for space to our discussions. Welcome, Heather! Please be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at You now have a way to easily send us a voice recording that we may use on the show: just click on the blue microphone icon at the bottom right of any page at Show recorded 04-21-2024. Host: Larry Herrin Panelist(s): Mark Ratterman, Heather Smith (Gene Mikulka, Dr. Kat Robison and Sawyer Rosenstein will return) Podcast Editor: Larry Herrin Delta 4 Heavy NROL-70 poster – website photo credit: NRO


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Episode 1605: Getting the NAC of Things

Is the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) system becoming unglued? During the NAC Science Committee meeting on March 21st, there were significant questions about the Primary NAC and its ability to deliver recommendations to NASA's leadership expeditiously so they can be acted upon by NASA Leadership. That wasn't the only thing on the minds of NASA's scientists and advisors. The Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory are profoundly impacted by NASA's austere FY 24 and FY 25 budget constraints, and one of the two missions may face cancellation. Also, the significant demands placed on NASA's Deep Space Network were of major concern. We report on what was said and offer analysis. The Intuitive Machines IM-1 mission was officially declared completed when, as predicted, the robotic Odysseus lunar lander did not respond to a "wake-up" call on March 23rd. Larry Herrin and Mark Ratterman talked with Chantelle Baier, CEO of 4Space, who facilitated one of the commercial payloads on the IM-1 mission, to wrap up her experiences on the flight and discuss future endeavors. See Jeff Koons Moon Phases web site to explore the details of his art, exploring themes of connectivity and acceptance. NASA extended its call for new astronaut applications through April 16th and Mark Ratterman highlights what the US Army is doing to encourage applicants in its ranks. After the joint Boeing Space/NASA press conferences last week highlighting the upcoming first crewed flight test of the CST 100 Starliner, some words were put out on social media by some prominent individuals in space advocacy berating Boeing Space. In a commentary, Gene Mikulka poses a question: Can't we wish Butch Wilmore and Sunni Williams well and forget about wearing our corporate t-shirts for a little while? Finally, Space exploration lost two giants this past week, and we look back on the lives and contributions of former astronaut General Thomas P. Stafford and former Johnson Spaceflight Center Director George W.S. Abbey. All this and more, on this episode of Talking Space! Host: Larry Herrin Panel Members: Gene Mikulka & Mark Ratterman - Dr. Kat Robison and Sawyer Rosenstein will return.


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Episode 1604: Starship Flight 3 Recap; How to Safely Enjoy the Eclipse

We’re giving up on new ways to describe how busy it is now in the world of space-related news. Nonetheless, we still have a Starship Flight 3 recap, a look at the next (and last) Delta IV Heavy launch, and we also focus on the upcoming total solar eclipse. But first, in the News Roundup, even more, including: “Owl Night Long”xplodes during first launchland-swap deal in Texasfor NASA, NOAA and FAAready for work The Post-Delta-IV-Heavy Future of Launch Complex 37 Next, the team discusses some possible alternatives for the future of Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. The USAF conducted a public hearing (both in-person and online, which Gene attended) to discuss the two options. One is for SpaceX to take over LC-37 and convert it for use by the Starship Super Heavy. The other is to establish a new LC-50, to be located between SpaceX’s LC-40 and ULA’s LC-41. Charles Boyer from “Talk of Titusville” outlines the entire plan here. How to Safely Enjoy the Upcoming Solar Eclipse According to the site TimeandDate , the first sign of a partial eclipse in North America is to start at 15:42 UTC (that's 11:42 AM EDT) on April 8, 2024, and will end about 20:52 UTC or 4:52 PM EDT. NASA has a good site as well if you are looking for when to look in your area, NASA’s Eclipse Explorer can give you information about your town to see if you are in the path of totality. So can a moving map animation at And if you get rained out or clouded over? Never fear, NASA TV will be providing coverage. Starship Flight 3 Recap Finally, the team recaps their impressions of the third test flight of Starship Super Heavy. While both booster and ship were prematurely lost (which, by regulation, requires that SpaceX conduct another Mishap Investigation), there were a number of notable achievements to highlight on this test flight. There were a number of lowlights as well. We discuss it all. Please be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at You now have a way to easily send us a voice recording that we may use on the show: just click on the blue microphone icon at the bottom right of any page at Show recorded 03-17-2024. Host: Larry Herrin Panelist(s): Gene Mikulka and Mark Ratterman (Dr. Kat Robison and Sawyer Rosenstein will return) Podcast Editor: Larry Herrin episode page photo credits: CADRE Mars Yard Tests: NASA/JPL-CalTech


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Episode 1603: IM-1 Lunar Mission Recap; Interview with Launch-Viewing Rookie

There’s a ton of space news to discuss this time around, and we made the time to do it in this lengthy episode. Not to worry, there’s lots of good stuff in here, including: New GlennZvezda increasesRoscosmos selling off $124 Million in assetsFormer astronaut and NASA Admin Richard Trulywhether to extend expiring FAA commercial human spaceflight “Learning Period” OSAM-1 Project IM-1 Lunar Lander Mission Review Next, the team discusses our takeaways from the Intuitive Machines IM-1 lunar lander mission to the south pole region of the Moon that ended last week. The Intuitive Machines team dealt with some major challenges on the way to the Moon and during landing, with the first one sprouting up only an hour or so into the launch. Get all the juicy details of how the IM-1 lander and its payloads fared in this episode. NASA’s Space Science Data Coordinated Archive of the mission is located here. Artist and Launch Rookie Agnes Garbowska Interviewed Finally, Mark shares an interview with award-winning artist and in-person launch-viewing rookie Agnes Garbowska for her IM-1 launch impressions and takeaways. You can also check out her YouTube channel here, and her upcoming Kickstarter project is here. Please be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at You now have a way to easily send us a voice recording that we may use on the show: just click on the blue microphone icon at the bottom right of any page at Show recorded 03-02-2024. Host: Larry Herrin Panelist(s): Gene Mikulka and Mark Ratterman (Dr. Kat Robison and Sawyer Rosenstein will return) Podcast Editor: Mark Ratterman IM-1 Falcon 9 launch photo credit: SpaceX Crippen/Rosenstein/Truly photo credit: Sawyer Rosenstein Agnes Garbowska photo credit: Agnes Garbowska IM-1 Odysseus lander photo credit: Intuitive Machines and NASA


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Episode 1602: IM-1 Lunar Lander Launches Successfully; Deep Cuts at JPL a Heartache

It’ll do your heart good to have a listen to the IM-1 launch audio snippet at the opening of this episode. This episode finds us still focusing on the Intuitive Machines IM-1 lunar lander launch and lunar landing attempt to come later this week. Chantelle Baier from 4Space joins us once again to talk about the launch and the lunar landing, scheduled for February 22, 2024. Both Larry and Mark witnessed the LM-1 launch from Kennedy Space Center’s Banana Creek Launch Viewing Area at 1:05 a.m. on February 15th courtesy of 4Space. But first, we have plenty of news in the roundup: simulated year-long Mars missionannounced Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) layoffsFederal budget impasseUruguayGreece Next, the team and Chantelle discuss our impressions from the IM-1 launch, and hints at what may come next for 4Space. These lunar deliveries are part of NASA’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative in support of the Artemis program. We’ll keep you informed as events unfold. We also discuss some details relating to the innovative EagleCam experiment aboard the lander. Some interesting video of the IM-1 after separation from the tumbling Falcon 9 upper stage can be found here. Finally, Mark eagerly shares a bit of background on a couple of engineers at Boeing who are diligently working on getting the Starliner’s re-entry parachutes sorted and ready for flight. This is the kind of folks you want packing your parachutes. Please be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at . Our website now has a way to easily send us a voice message that we may use on the show: just click on the blue microphone icon at the bottom right of any page at Show recorded 02-17-2024. Host: Larry Herrin Panelist(s): Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman and special guest Chantelle Baier (Dr. Kat Robison and Sawyer Rosenstein will return) Podcast Editor: Larry Herrin IM-1 Falcon 9 launch photo credit: SpaceX


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Episode1601: Taking Non-Traditional Space Companies and Artisans From Concept to Launchpad: A Conversation With Chantelle Baier of 4Space

Welcome to the First Talking Space of 2024! The Intuitive Machines IM-1 mission is the second flight of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) missions. Its purpose is to have commercial entities be responsible for sending NASA science payloads and eventually cargo to the lunar surface to support human exploration of the Moon. NASA isn't the lead of the mission, but simply one customer of many. This new way of getting to the lunar surface opens a new door for not only researchers but also other non-traditional businesses who may never have thought of participating in spaceflight before to make their first bold steps into the space business. Bolted to the side of the Intuitive Machines NOVA-C IM-1 lander set for its lunar voyage is sculpture called “Moon Phases” conceptualized and designed by artist Jeff Koons. Consisting of 125 small and unique lunar phase sculptures, each one dedicated to someone who contributed to humanity for good in some way. It’s bolted to the side of the spacecraft set to be the first sculpture on the lunar south pole. But it was a long road from concept to the launch pad. Enter Chantelle Baier who founded 4Space in 2018 to take free thinkers, artisans, and non-traditional space companies, and help them take their talents and abilities to a higher level: above the Karman Line. In this installment, we talk to Ms. Baier about the journey Koon’s sculpture took, how 4Space was able to help a non-traditional entity take that step into the final frontier, and what the company can do for others who want to embark on that journey. We also discuss what may be on the horizon for 4Space in the future. Chantelle Baier has served on the boards of the Moon Village Association, the AIAA Technical Committee, Hewellet Packard’s Mars Home Planet Advisory Panel, Yuri’s Night Special Relations, and is a senior executive on the National Space Society’s Board of Directors where she serves at the organization’s Director and Creative Director. She also holds professional backgrounds in the areas of science, space, and fashion. Host: Mark Ratterman Panelist: Gene Mikulka Guest: Chantelle Baier Podcast Editor: Mark Ratterman


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Episode 1515: What Do Aussies Think About Space?

First off, apologies are in order for our extended absence from your podcast-hungry ears. We try our best to record on a consistent basis, but sometimes there’s a perfect storm of Life Events getting in the way for the Talking Space team when it comes down to getting an episode in the can. We DID even record an episode with Gene and Larry that we could not air because Larry’s audio track for the recording was not usable due to, of all things, an intermittently malfunctioning microphone. Sometimes the Universe just plain conspires against us. In the News Roundup: First: Be encouraged and inspired. Watch an interview with former astronaut Jose Hernandez on This Week in Space, as well as his new biopic, A Million Miles Away. Here’s a link to the trailer. His daughter interviews him here. Next, we have an update on the Center for Biological Diversity, et al’s Starship lawsuit against the FAA, SpaceX, and a new defendant added recently: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Also, what’s happening now to qualify SpaceX for its IFT-3 launch license? We have all the latest. Also, a final reminder: Send your name to Europa aboard the Europa Clipper spacecraft - check in at or sign on at . The opportunity closes Dec. 31, 2023. Finally: Want a picture of yourself on Mars? At JPL? In the Mars Rover Mission Control room? Check out the Mars Perseverance Photo Booth here. Wrap-up and Impressions from ASCEND As promised last time, Kat provides a wrap-up overview and her impressions from the ASCEND conference, including the probable extension of the commercial spaceflight regulatory “learning period” and news on lunar communications regulations. What do Aussies Think About Space? The Australian Centre for Space Governance (ACSG) has sponsored a study designed to measure Australian attitudes and opinions about space. We’re proud that Talking Space’s own Dr. Kat Robison Hasani helped design the study in her role as a Senior Research Fellow at ACSG. She brings us up to speed on the survey’s findings. SpaceX 2023 Launch Count as of December 19, 2023: 92 SpaceX 2023 Projected Final Launch Count: 97 (almost made it to 100!) More Website Woes Yes, it’s true. Talking Space’s website – and email – are down again. And again, we’re “working the problem,” and will have things working again ASAP. The podcast itself has always been available wherever else you get your podcasts, as you know if you’re reading this. Please be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at Show recorded 12-26-2023. Host: Mark Ratterman Panelist(s): Larry Herrin, Dr. Kat Robison Hasani Podcast Editor: Mark Ratterman


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Episode 1514: Starship vs. the Fish People, MSR Woes and a Powerful Tale from ASCEND

There’s a lot going on this time around, as usual. First, in the news roundup: with a notable exceptionWallops Spaceport site mapHarry Strangerfirst asteroid flybyannouncedthree museums Then, Mark discusses a brief history and laments the lessened art of spacecraft call signs and aircraft nose art. He also informs us that Commander Callie continues her mission in NASA’s newest issue of its graphic novel. Next, Gene brings us up to speed on the wobbly future of the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission in light of the findings of the recent Independent Review Board 2 report. The IRB2 report concluded, among other things, that there is “likely not enough funding available to accomplish any mission.” Say again, Houston? Finally, Kat brings us an initial teaser report and interview from the recent ASCEND conference with Lindsay Kaldon, Project Manager with NASA’s Fission Surface Power Project, managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Çenter in Cleveland, OH. You want to survive long-term on the Moon or Mars, you gotta have a lot of reliable electrical power! Thanks to all for the heads-up about issues with Talking Space’s website. It’s been down for a number of weeks now. We’re “working the problem,” and will have the site back up very soon. The podcast itself has always been available wherever else you get your podcasts, as you know if you’re reading this soon after it is published! UPDATE: The website has been restored as of the afternoon of November 7, 2023, and seems to be functioning normally. Please be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at . Show recorded 10-27-2023. Host: Sawyer Rosenstein Panelist(s): Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, Dr. Kat Robison and Larry Herrin Podcast Editor: Larry Herrin


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Episode 1513: What’s a WR? How does it Affect Starship’s Next Launch Date?

So much has happened so fast in the last couple of weeks related to SpaceX’s pursuit of Starship’s Flight 2 launch license. Look at all these goings-on: list of 63 corrective actionsstatement@NASASpaceflight To try and make sense of all this, Larry and Gene are pleased to welcome back Eric Roesch (@ESGHound), who by now should be familiar to regular Talking Space listeners. Eric is an environmental engineer by trade. He is an environmental permitting expert who has written extensively about permitting-related activities related to the activities of SpaceX. Eric, Gene and Larry will take a deep dive to provide some clarity to all the above, as well as answers to questions like: their consultation with the FAA? Be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at . Contact Eric and read his writings: website:; Substack:; X/Twitter: @ESGHound; Also: Mashable story about the Bloomberg FOIA story. Show recorded 09-19-2023. Host: Larry Herrin Panelist(s): Gene Mikulka (Mark Ratterman, Sawyer Rosenstein and Dr. Kat Robison will return) Podcast Editor: Larry Herrin


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Episode 1512: Pretty Plasma Trail, But Not from Starship Anytime Soon?

This episode brings lots of Space news from around the globe, as well as from our own back yards. Literally. First off: both Sawyer and Mark witnessed the plasma trail from the latest Crew Dragon reentry from their own back yards. A photo that looks … kind of like what they saw (taken by NASA) … is shown here. Next, we have plenty of news in the roundup, including: ) to support Aeolus satellite’s controlled reentry NROL 107need of serious maintenance – or demolitionNew Horizons Mission sagain its fourth flightbreaks the US space endurance recordannounce the Axiom 3 crew Then, the team discusses the 36-page report of the NASA Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP) Independent Study Team. NASA formed this external, 16-member independent study team of experts in July 2022 to find a way we can use our open-source data and resources to help shed light on the nature of future UAP. The report is a summary of the proposed ways NASA can do that using mostly existing resources, as well as new, inexpensive crowdsourced methods to collect future UAP data in a scientifically rigorous manner. You can find a copy of the report here. Finally, we can’t let an episode go by without an update to the goings-on in the world of SpaceX and Starship: can be found here Please be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at . Show recorded 09-14-2023. Host: Sawyer Rosenstein Panelist(s): Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman and Larry Herrin (Dr. Kat Robison will return) Podcast Editor: Mark Ratterman Crew 6 Dragon reentry plasma trail photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky


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Episode 1511: Looking Outside the Bubble – A Conversation With Nathan Price

How many people outside the space community know about the Artemis Moon to Mars program? What do people who don’t follow spaceflight think of the current program? If given a chance, would YOU go to the Moon or Mars? Our guest, Nathan Price, is attempting to explore these questions with people who don’t typically follow the space program all that closely. Countdown to the Moon aims to have a daily conversation with a single person about space exploration and their attitudes toward space. The purpose is to understand how the public perceives space exploration and make an electronic time capsule on how people in our time may perceive the future. After participating in the interview process, Talking Space’s Gene Milkulka decided to discuss with Nathan what was the driving force behind the project, and what has surprised him about the conversations he has had thus far. Nathan Price lives in the Houston, Texas area and founded the National Space Society’s North Houston chapter. He worked in Information Technology for 25 years. Recently he took the plunge into the space field, becoming a contractor at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and has started working towards the goal of being on console in the Mission Control Center. If YOU wish to participate in the Countdown to the Moon project, go to the projects Web page to schedule an appointment with Nathan or reach out to him on the site formerly known as Twitter at @GadgetNate. Show recorded on June 22, 2023. Guest: Nathan Price Podcast Host: Gene Mikulka Podcast Editor: Mark Ratterman


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Episode 1510: Artemis III – A Different Mission?

ESA’s Aeolus earth observation satellite, launched in August 2018, ended its primary mission on July 28, 2023. It still had one final mission: a safe, fiery, controlled reentry into Earth’s atmosphere conducted by the European Space Agency flight controllers. Larry Herrin provides details of the importance of this maneuver. August 8, 2023 was Artemis II media day at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development Jim Free, and the Crew of the Artemis II mission, provided an update on the upcoming lunar reconnaissance mission. Jim Free was also asked about the status of the Human Landing System and how its progress may impact the Artemis III lunar landing attempt. Gene Mikulka reports. The link to the press conference on the NASA YouTube page can be found here. In a separate press telecon on August 7, Boeing Space and NASA gave updates on the progress of the Starliner capsule that will be used to transport crew to the international space station. Boeing’s Mark Nappi indicated that the capsule will be ready for the long-delayed Crewed Test Flight (CST) in March of 2024, pending the completion of remediation steps for the P-13 tape, which was found to be flammable and a required modification to the main reentry parachutes being made by partner company Airborne Systems. Click here to hear the entire press conference So you’re a farmer seeking computer programs to help with drought or looking to track storms that might impact your crops? Perhaps you’re a researcher looking for modeling software or trying to figure out how to predict lightning strikes. As Mark Ratterman reports, NASA has an app for that! There are about more than 1,000 free programs and algorithms free for the taking at We provide an update on the SpaceX Boca Chica lawsuit and other developments that we’ve been following: CNBC’s Lora Kolodny reports that the company still has yet to apply for an Industrial Wastewater Permit but, according to the report, still went ahead with a full pressure test of the flame deflector for the Starship launch pad (and used it for the Booster 9 static test) despite not having the required permit for such a discharge. The team discusses these developments and will continue to watch and report. UPDATE: According to on Tuesday, August 15, 2023, SpaceX submitted its long-awaited Mishap Investigation Report to the FAA for review. So whatever became of the American flag planted on the Moon by Apollo 11? Larry Herrin discusses a PhysOrg article about the history of the last-minute scramble to include it in the mission, the fate of the artifact and what might be its current state. And speaking of the Moon, once the astronauts of NASA’s Artemis program arrive on the lunar surface, they’ll need power systems for essential systems, transportation, and conducting experiments. Mark Ratterman explores two companies – Blue Origin and Zeno Power Systems – and describes their proposals to deliver energy to lunar explorers. Here is the Zeno Power Systems press release. Show recorded on 08-13-2023. Host this week: Larry Herrin Panel Members: Mark Ratterman & Gene Mikulka (Sawyer Rosenstein and Dr. Kat Robison will return) Podcast Editor: Larry Herrin Transition Music Credit: Pixabay - StudioKolomna


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Episode 1509: Starship Launch Delays – a Triple Whammy?

SpaceX’s effort to launch its second integrated test of Starship is likely facing a triple whammy of delays, including a new one that should really be of no surprise to the company. It certainly is no surprise to Eric Roesch, who joins us on this episode to discuss the latest developments in the saga. First, there’s the well-known environmental lawsuit brought by a consortium of environmental and tribal groups against the FAA and SpaceX. This case showed a little movement on July 25, 2023, and all the details on what did transpire in court filings on that date can be found here. Turns out that the latest filing in the case (as of this writing) would extend the deadline for proposing a briefing schedule as to summary judgment within 14 days of the Court’s resolution of Plaintiffs’ motion challenging the Administrative Record, if any is filed. And that resolution could come as late as December 2023 or January of 2024, or maybe even later. And all of this time may be used up just to get to the point where all sides agree on what the tools look like that they’re going to use to prosecute the case. Second, the FAA just reminded everyone on July 26th that SpaceX has not yet submitted a Mishap Investigation Report for its review. This report would outline what SpaceX needs to do to demonstrate to FAA that Starship is safe enough for another launch attempt. And the third element of the triple whammy? The new water deluge system freshly installed and tested beneath the Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) has no Industrial Wastewater Permit to go with it. Eric gives us a full rundown of all the wonky stuff, as well as the inside scoop as to how long a delay this could cause (spoiler alert: it’s a long time!). And not only has SpaceX not applied for the permit yet, but according to Eric, SpaceX knew they had to do it way back when they wrote the latest Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) that governs the whole environmental shooting match. Is there something that SpaceX knows that we don’t, which will let them circumvent the Clean Water Act? How will SpaceX pull this off? Please be sure to let us know your thoughts on the topics we discuss. You can always reach us at . Show recorded 07-27-2023. Host: Larry Herrin Panelist(s): Larry Herrin (Sawyer Rosenstein, Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman and Dr. Kat Robison will return) Podcast Editor: Larry Herrin