Science

SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-1 – Behind the Scenes

In this episode we go behind the scenes on the press site at Kennedy Space Center for a look at the incredible milestones of SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-1, and what it means for the future of commercial crew spaceflight.

In this journey I share footage of the press conferences, launch activities, and how I was able to set up a remote camera close-up to Launch Complex 39A, the site where Crew Dragon lifted off at 2:49 AM EST on Saturday, March 2, 2019. I also share my interviews with Everyday Astronaut Tim Dodd and Quartz writer Tim Fernholz (author of “Rocket Billionaires”). Clips include Elon Musk, NASA Administrator Jim Brindenstine, and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

For more information, visit https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/crew/index.html

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The New Vulcan Centaur Rocket – Mark Peller, ULA Program Manager for Major Development

Mark Peller
Mark Peller

Mark Peller is the program manager for major development at United Launch Alliance (ULA), and in this position is responsible for development of Vulcan. Mark is with us today to discuss ULA’s future launch system, the Vulcan Centaur rocket.

Vulcan is ULA’s future launch system that builds upon ULA’s extensive Atlas and Delta heritage to provide a competitive product offering to serve a broad spectrum of markets. As the program manager, Peller has overall responsibility for developing the launch vehicle and the supporting capabilities required across the supply chain as well as ULA’s production and launch operations to meet the program’s objectives.

Peller began his career with Rockwell International in 1990 as a propulsion engineer supporting the Space Shuttle program. He joined The Boeing Company in 1996 when it acquired the aerospace and defense businesses of Rockwell. Peller moved to the Delta program in 1997 and held various technical and program management positions throughout the development and initial fielding of the Delta IV launch system.

Peller continued his work on the Delta program at ULA after the company was formed in 2006. In 2009, he was appointed the product line chief engineer for Delta, where he had overall technical responsibility for the Delta II and Delta IV launch systems. During this period he oversaw 24 successful Delta launches, including the first launch of the Delta IV Heavy configuration from the West Coast. In 2013 Peller transitioned into the role of the director of the ULA Hardware Value Stream where he was responsible for managing the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) contracts with the U.S. Air Force, and leading the product teams supporting launch vehicle development, procurement, and production.

Peller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in applied mechanics from the University of California, San Diego, a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of California, Irvine. He is a licensed mechanical engineer in the state of California.

For more information, visit https://www.ulalaunch.com/

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Is Faster Than Light Travel Possible? The Science of SciFi with Dr. Erin Macdonald

Dr. Erin Macdonald - Astrophysicist

Is faster than light travel possible? Dr. Erin Macdonald joins us to discuss the current theories–and how they relate to science fiction. She is an astrophysicist, science fiction consultant, aerospace engineer, and host of the online series, “Dr. Erin Explains the Universe”. Her specialty is in general relativity, having worked previously searching for gravitational waves in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. She has since found her home in science fiction, consulting with writers, teaching STEM through popular culture, and fulfilling her life goal of becoming a warp drive expert.

For more information, visit https://www.erinpmacdonald.com/

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Ultima Thule Part 2 – BRIAN MAY, Queen Lead Guitarist & Astrophysicist

Brian May, PhD

Brian May is a founding member of Queen, a world-renowned guitarist, songwriter, producer and performer, also a Doctor of Astrophysics, 3-D stereoscopic photographic authority and a passionate advocate and campaigner for animal rights.

It's been an exciting year for Brian and 2019 is going to get a great start. Brian is the executive music producer for the new Bohemian Rhapsody movie, which has been nominated for the Golden Globes. He also released his book MISSION MOON 3D, offering the first 3D images of the Apollo missions to the Moon. He's also getting ready to release his first new single as a solo artist in over two decades, titled “New Horizons,” inspired in part by Dr. Alan Stern, the principal investigator for the New Horizons spacecraft mission.

In our latest episode Brian discusses his passions in music, space & photography, and announces how he plans to kick off 2019 by giving “New Horizons” a world premiere directly from NASA Control center in Maryland at 12:02 a.m. EST on January 1st, 2019, as the spacecraft zooms past the Kuiper Belt's Ultima Thule, which is located a billion miles beyond Pluto.

For more information, visit BrianMay.com

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Ultima Thule Part 1 – Dr. Alan Stern, New Horizons Principle Investigator

Dr Alan Stern

Dr. Alan Stern is the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, leading NASA’s exploration of the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt. Today he joins us to discuss New Horizon’s upcoming close approach to Ultima Thule this New Year’s Day. Ultima is an object in the Kuiper Belt about 4 billion miles away, the most distant object yet ever to be explored by a spacecraft. 

In this episode we also feature a sneak preview clip of “New Horizons”, a new song to be released on New Year's Day commemorating this mission by legendary Queen lead guitarist & astrophysicist Brian May. Brian will join us on our next episode Part 2.

For more information about the New Horizons mission, visit http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/

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Mars InSight, Mars 2020 Rover Landing Site & Opportunity Rover Update with Dr. James Rice

Dr Jim RiceDr. James Rice is the senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona. He is also the geology team leader on the Mars Exploration Rovers Project (which includes Spirit and Opportunity), as well as Co-Investigator on the Athena Science Instruments onboard these rovers. Dr. Rice is joining us today to discuss the recent landing of Mars Insight, provide an update on the status of the Opportunity Rover, and examine why the Jezero Crater was recently selected as the landing site for the Mars 2020 rover.

Related episode: Dust Storms on Mars, Opportunity Rover Status & the Future of Human Space Exploration

For more information on Mars exploration, visit: https://mars.nasa.gov

For more information on Dr. Rice, visit: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-james-rice-822a1764/

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The Planetary Society’s CASEY DREIER discusses National Geographic’s MARS Season 2, LightSail 2 & the U.S. Space Force

Casey Dreier, The Planetary SocietyCasey Dreier is the Chief Advocate & Senior Space Policy Adviser at The Planetary Society, the world’s largest independent space outreach organization. In this interview we discuss season 2 of National Geographic’s Mars TV series, as well as The Planetary Society’s Lightsail 2 project and the United States Space Force.

As Chief Advocate & Senior Space Policy Adviser, Casey leads the strategic planning and implementation of The Planetary Society's policy and advocacy efforts. This includes working closely with other policy representatives in the space community, educating legislators and congressional staffers and organizing Planetary Society members to become active space advocates. He also educates the public about space policy and history through writing, his monthly Space Policy Edition podcast and unique online course offerings such as Space Advocacy 101.

In 2015, Dreier led The Planetary Society’s Humans Orbiting Mars initiative, which explored the potential for a step-wise, long-term mission to send humans to the surface of Mars. The report provided important information and analysis for NASA’s Mars planning and helped influence thinking for lunar and Mars exploration efforts.

Dreier is a trusted source for space policy analysis for journalists and has been featured as a source in many general interest publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, Scientific American, Vox and The Verge, to name a few. He is committed to demystifying the politics and policy of space for all audiences and has been an invited speaker at conferences such as The Atlantic's Washington Ideas Week and Politicon.

He is also an instructor at Western Washington University, where he teaches the occasional class on space history and policy.

Casey is one of the “Big Thinkers” for National Geographic's Mars series, along with Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Andy Weir, Robert Zubrin, and more. Season 2 premiered on November 12, 2018 and shows what life in a Mars colony will be like after human settlement.

For more information, visit:

MARS SEASON 2: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/tv/mars/
The Planetary Society: http://www.planetary.org

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Rainbows, Halos & other special things – John Ventre, Cincinnati Observatory

John VentreRainbows are gorgeous! But there are better times and places to look to increase your chances of seeing them. In this episode we go onsite at the historic Cincinnati Observatory with John Ventre, where he discusses the beauty & causes of phenomena such as rainbows, halos and sun dogs.

For more information, visit https://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org

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FIRST MAN: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong – Official Biographer Dr. James R. Hansen

Dr. James Hansen
Dr. James R. Hansen is the writer of the book “First Man: The life of Neil A. Armstrong”. He was Neil Armstrong's one & only authorized biographer, obtaining 55 hours of audio recordings and 800 emails during his interviews with Neil (plus a few rounds of golf along the way). First Man has been adapted into a movie, with Dr. Hansen serving as a consultant, releasing October 2018 by Universal Pictures. The movie is directed by Academy Award winner Damien Chazelle and stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong.

Dr. Hansen is the Professor Emeritus of History at Auburn University in Alabama. He’s an expert in aerospace history and the history of science and technology.

For more info about Dr. Hansen, visit http://www.auburn.edu/~hansejr/

For more info about the movie, visit https://www.firstman.com/

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Behind the Sun with Dr. Nicky Fox, Heliophysics Division Director at NASA HQ

Dr Nicky Fox

Dr. Nicky Fox is the Heliophysics Division Director at NASA Headquarters. She earned her PhD in Space Physics from the Imperial College of Science in London and has worked for both APL and NASA over her 20 year career. She’s worked  on such projects as the NASA Polar spacecraft and the International Solar Terrestrial Physics Mission. Most recently Dr. Fox is heavily involved with the Parker Solar Probe, which launched on August 12, 2018. In this episode she describes the goals of the probe, as well as her advice to parents for encouraging their children to pursue a career in the science field. We also feature video and hi-fidelity sound from 4 miles away from the launchpad as the Solar Probe lifted off on its way to study the Sun.

“Behind the Sun” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers used with permission from Warner Bros. Records.

For more information on the Parker Solar Probe visit http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu/

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