Go behind the scenes with us as we set up cameras at the launch pad, met some incredible people and witnessed the first commercial launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy, complete with the incredible landing of the boosters at Cape Canaveral.
Featured in this episode are interviews with Everyday Astronaut Tim Dodd, rocket launch photographer Erik Kuna, and STEM/teacher Jamie Groh. We discuss what it's like photographing this historic launch; the first commercial flight of the new Block 5 Falcon Heavy, with more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff (10% more than last year’s version) and a 140,000+ pounds of LEO payload capacity—more than double of the space shuttle.
SpaceX is gearing up for its 2nd Falcon Heavy launch, scheduled for 6:35 pm EDT Wednesday, April 10, 2019.
As you may remember the first Falcon Heavy was launched last year on February 6, 2018 with the infamous “Starman” and Elon Musk's own Tesla. Two of the Falcon Heavy's boosters landed nearly simultaneously at Cape Canaveral while the main booster landing at sea (on SpaceX's ship “Of Course I Still Love You”) was unsuccessful.
So what's different this time? This is the first commercial launch of Falcon Heavy and not a demonstration mission. Its payload is the Arabsat 6A communications satellite for Saudi Arabian company Arabsat. This new satellite will be launched into a geostationary orbit (meaning it will be above the same location on Earth during its orbit) and provide television, phone, internet and secure communications for the middle east, Africa and Europe.
While still the most powerful active rocket available, this version of the Falcon Heavy will be 10% more powerful than last year's. Its 27 Merlin engines and Block 5 configuration create more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff and are capable of lifting more than 140,000 pounds to low Earth orbit. Only the Saturn V moon rocket (last launched in 1973) could carry more payload to orbit.
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.
Aurora Station will be the World's First Luxury Space Hotel in orbit 200 miles above the Earth's surface. Frank Bunger, the CEO & Founder at Orion Span (the company behind Aurora Station), joins us to discuss this incredible opportunity for dreamers to achieve the Authentic Astronaut Experience. Not only will this hotel offer breathtaking views, but visitors will experience the thrill of zero gravity, watch the aurora borealis, grow food in space, or dive into their holodeck. Frank is a veteran technology executive and entrepreneur, with a background across several industries, including software, hardware and manufacturing. In this episode he describes Aurora Station which is set to launch in 2021 with the ability to receive guests by 2022. Frank also discusses the Orion Span Astronaut Certification program (from training to the 12-day adventure), possibilities of owning a space condo and space as a service.
Christian Davenport recently released his book “The Space Barons”, the story of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and the Quest to colonize the cosmos. Chris has been a staff writer at The Washington Post since 2000 and currently covers the space and defense industries for the financial desk. He is a recipient of the Peabody award for his work on veterans with traumatic brain injury and has been on reporting teams that were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize three times.
Chris’ new book “The Space Barons” is out now and available online or at your favorite bookstore. For more information about Chris or to read his other articles, please visit WashingtonPost.com.
Tim Fernholz is the author of “Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and the New Space Race”. For this new book, Tim obtained exclusive access to top executives at SpaceX, including Elon Musk himself, as well as at Blue Origin, NASA, Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Orbital ATK and Virgin Galactic. Tim lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is a reporter at Quartz Media, where he covers space, the economy and geopolitics.
Tim’s new book “Rocket Billionaires” is out now and available at your favorite retailer or at Amazon.com. For more information about Tim or to read his other articles, please visit qz.com.