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Are We There Yet?
28 minutes | Oct 26, 2021
“Back to Earth”: Astronaut Nicole Stott wants us to be better crew mates on spaceship Earth
Astronaut Nicole Stott spent more than 100 days in space. Her view of the planet up there changed the way she thinks about it now that she’s down here. It’s often called the Overview Effect, and it’s a change in perspective seen by space-goers. Stott hopes to share that same change in perspective with those of us not so lucky enough to head to space in her new book “Back to Earth: What Life in Space Taught Me About Our Home Planet—And Our Mission to Protect It.” We’ll talk with Stott about her motivation to write the book, and her rules for us here on this planet to treat it like our own spaceship and what we can do to be better crewmates.
28 minutes | Oct 19, 2021
After SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission, Chris Sembroski is back on Earth
The crew of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission spent three days in space, launching from Kennedy Space Center on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The mission was bankrolled by billionaire Jared Isaacman and aimed to raise money for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It was the first all-civilian mission with four ordinary people joining the mission. One of those crewmembers is Chris Sembroski. He and his crewmates trained for the mission over the course of a few months and took us all along with them through a documentary that aired on Netflix in near real time. Dr. Sian Procter and Haley Arceneaux joined Sembroski and Isaacman on the mission. Sembroski and his crew are now back here on Earth. So what was the experience like? We’ll speak with Sembroksi about the mission and what’s next after leaving the planet.
28 minutes | Oct 12, 2021
NASA’s next space station astronaut & Lucy’s mission to the Trojan asteroids
A crew of four is set to launch to the International Space Station at the end of the month, starting a six month mission on the orbiting lab. The three NASA astronauts and one European Space Agency astronaut are flying on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, launching from Kennedy Space Center on a Falcon 9 rocket. One of those astronauts is Kayla Barron and she tells us the first rocket launch she’ll ever see in person will be the one she’s sitting on top of. We’ll speak with Barron about her rookie mission to space, and what she expects to do when she gets to the ISS. Then, a NASA spacecraft is set to head to clusters of asteroids living around Jupiter. The asteroids known as Trojans have never been visited by a spacecraft before and could hold the key to unlocking the secrets of the start of our solar system. NASA scientist Keith Noll joins the show to talk about these asteroids and what answers they may hold.
28 minutes | Oct 5, 2021
Trouble Brewing At Blue Origin & The Search For Intergalactic Polluters
There’s trouble brewing at private aerospace company Blue Origin. Jeff Bezos’ rocket company took a gamble on its bid for NASA’s human lunar lander contract and lost, according to documents obtained by The Verge via FOIA requests. The documents shed light on how Blue Origin operates and NASA’s view of the commercial company. That’s not all for Blue. Last week, 21 former and current employees published an essay detailing a hostile work environment, sexist managers and allegations of safety violations that the Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating. We’ll speak with space reporter Joey Roulette about his reporting on NASA’s souring relationship with Blue Origin and the allegations made by its employees. Then, to find aliens on other planets some astronomers are looking for intergalactic polluters. Florida Institute of Technology assistant professor Manasvi Lingam joins the show to talk about his search for life in our universe and how looking for signs of planetary pollution like greenhouse gas might help us uncover our galactic neighbors. He’s also the co-author of the book Life in the Cosmos: From Biosignatures to Technosignatures.
28 minutes | Sep 21, 2021
Can We Call The Inspiration4 Crew Astronauts?
The crew of Inspiration4 is safely here on the ground after spending three days in low Earth orbit. It was the first all-civilian space mission, launching on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center. Inside their Crew Dragon capsule, the crew flew higher than the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope. But before they launched, the mission was gaining lots of buzz. A Netflix documentary followed the crew during training and people came to Florida’s space coast to watch this historic mission launch off this planet. We’ll hear from some of those people that came out to cheer Inspriation4 on and ask them what made them turn to the sky and watch these four launch into space. Then, is the crew astronauts? It’s a complex question. We’ll chat with a spaceflight historian Amy Foster and retired NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman about what it takes to be called an astronaut and if this crew meets the definition. Looking back at Inspiration 4’s launch, and the future of commercial astronauts — that’s ahead on Are We There Yet, here on WMFE — America’s Space Station.
28 minutes | Sep 14, 2021
Countdown To Inspiration4
We’re just a day away from the launch window opening of SpaceX’s Inspiration-4 mission. It’s the first all-civilian space mission to orbit, taking four people on a three-day trip to space and back. It’s also unlike any launch from the U.S. People are leaving the planet, and they’re not NASA astronauts. We’ll talk with NASA’s head of human spaceflight Kathy Lueders about how NASA’s helping SpaceX with this mission and why she’s not that upset she won’t be in the control room for this private mission. Then, we’ll continue our conversation with John Kraus, mission photographer for Inspiration4, about how he’s preparing the crew to take their own images from space.
28 minutes | Sep 7, 2021
Grounding Virgin Galactic & Documenting SpaceX’s All-Civilian Mission
Virgin Galactic’s founder Richard Branson flew to the edge of space back in July, riding in his company’s space tourism vehicle SpaceShipTwo. The trip grabbed headlines and news coverage worldwide as the billionaire raced to beat another space-faring billionaire Jeff Bezos to the edge of space and back. Branson was welcomed back to Earth with fanfare and the flight signaled the start of what could be a very lucrative market for private space tourism. But recent reporting from The New Yorker uncovered a perilous flight with the founder and prompted the FAA to ground the vehicle as it investigates the “mishap.” We’ll chat with The New Yorker writer Nicholas Schmidle about that perilous flight and what it reveals about the culture of safety and risk at Virgin Galactic. Then, another group of civilians are set to take to the skies next week. SpaceX’s Inspiraiton4 crew is slated to launch from Kennedy Space Center Wednesday. The crew of four private astronauts have been training since early this year for the three-day mission — and photographer John Kraus has been there snapping photos of their journey. We’ll talk with Kraus about the crew and the places they’ve gone as they train to fly to low-Earth orbit next week.
28 minutes | Aug 31, 2021
Civilian Space Science & Surviving Black Holes
An all-civilian space mission is set to take flight in about two weeks. the crew of four will fly in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule mission on a three day trip to low-Earth orbit and back. But it’s not all about fun and games for this private mission. The crew will be performing crucial science experiments that will help get humans to farther places in our solar system like the moon and Mars and survive longer in the harsh environment of space. To talk more about the research goals of SpaceX’s Inspiration 4 mission we’ll speak with Dr. Emmanuel Urquieta, Interim Chief Scientist and Chief Medical Officer of the Translational Research Institute for Space Health. Then, black holes have captured the attention of the masses with breakthroughs in imaging, gravitational wave detection and Nobel Prize recognition. What’s spurring this new dawn of black hole discovery? And how can scientists communicate such complex phenomena to a general audience? We’ll revisit a conversation with with Janna Levin, professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University about her book Black Hole Survival Guide.
28 minutes | Aug 24, 2021
An Inside Look At SpaceX’s Inspiration 4 Mission & What To Make Of A Galactic Arc
A crew of four civilians is set to take flight to low-Earth orbit next month, flying in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule. The mission, bankrolled by billionaire Jared Issacman, will raise money for St. Jude, and will be broadcast in near real-time on Netflix. It’s a new chapter in space flight history — so how did we get here? Axios space reporter Miriam Kramer explores the mission’s origin and purpose in a new season for Axios’ How It Happened podcast. We’ll speak with her about her reporting and what’s ahead for the Inspiration 4 crew. Then, earlier this summer scientists observed a giant arc of galaxies — stretching three billion light years. Some say this finding has the potential to change the foundations of cosmology and the standard model of our universe. Is that really the case? We’ll chat with our panel of expert physicists from UCF including cosmologist Jim Cooney about the findings and the meaning behind the discovery.
28 minutes | Aug 17, 2021
Fight & Flight: A Look At Blue Origin’s Fight For A Lander Contract & SLS’s New Flight Software
Fight and flight — the battle over NASA’s lunar lander and new software for the agency’s moon rocket. Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, is suing NASA over its selection of rival company SpaceX to design and develop the agency’s next moon lander.It’s the latest in Blue’s protest efforts over the April decision by NASA to contract SpaceX to build a spacecraft to take humans to the lunar surface. We’ll talk with Anthony Colangelo, a commercial space analyst and host of the podcast Main Engine Cutoff, about the protest — and what’s ahead for NASA’s Human Landing System. We’ll also chat about the burgeoning space tourism market and the latest delay of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. Then, as the fight over NASA’s lunar lander rolls on, software that will launch the agency’s next moon rocket is getting installed. We’ll talk with NASA’s Anton Kiriwas about the software that will fly SLS to the moon and back.
28 minutes | Aug 10, 2021
Printing On The Moon & Black Hole Observations
It takes a lot of fuel to send things into space. As humans look to head into deep space, like to the moon and Mars, engineers are figuring out ways to lower the weight of deep space launches by building supplies in space. Redwire is one of those commercial companies developing technology to build things in space — called in-situ — and has already demonstrated the ability to 3D print tools on the International Space Station. Now the company is looking towards a future moon mission and testing its 3D printers using simulated moon dust on the space station. We’ll talk with Redwire’s chief technology officer Michael Snyder about a mission launching this week to test out its Additive Manufacturing Facility currently installed on the space station by loading the toaster oven sized 3D printer with simulated moon dust. Then, earlier this year scientists observed a black hole gobbling up a neutron star — the first time an observation like this was ever made. It was done using gravitational wave observations which are changing the way we understand the universe. We’ll talk with our panel of expert scientists from the University of Central Florida Addie Dove, Jim Cooney and Josh Colwell about the observation and why seeing something like this is so difficult.
29 minutes | Aug 3, 2021
A Soundtrack For Space & The Curious Case Of Dimming Stars
The soundtrack of space. From Gustov Holtz’s suite “The Planets” to Kubrick’s choice of “Blue Danube” in 2001: A Space Odyssey, certain pieces of music are just cosmic. Now, a new project by a space entrepreneur and musician is building upon the soundtrack of space by beaming songs into the cosmos, starting from the International Space Station. We’ll speak with Bob Richards and Kristopher Houck about the aim of their Artemis Music program and how they learned to listen to the sounds of the universe. Then, last year we talked about the dimming of the star Betelgeuse. Since then, another star has curiously dimmed. What gives? We’ll speak with our panel of expert scientists Josh Colwell, Addie Dove and Jim Cooney from the University of Central Florida and hosts of the podcast Walkabout the Galaxy about the strange cases of dimming stars.
29 minutes | Jul 27, 2021
Starliner’s Redo & Measuring The Pulse Of Mars
Boeing’s Starliner is set to launch on an uncrewed mission from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station later this week on a critical test mission to certify the vehicle to fly astronauts. It’s a redo of a previous test attempt in late 2019 that failed to reach the space station. We’ll speak with Michelle Parker, Boeing’s space and launch chief engineer about the mission and what the team learned from the previous attempt. Then, a robot on Mars is measuring the pulse of the planet. NASA’s InSight mission is listening to seismic activity and its findings are shedding some light on what’s happening below the surface of Mars. We’ll speak with space journalist and WeMartians podcast host Jake Robins about the findings and what’s below the rust colored surface of Mars.
29 minutes | Jul 20, 2021
A Space For All? How Will Space Tourism Shape Access To Space
Billionaire Jeff Bezos has reached a life long goal of flying in space. His company Blue Origin launched its first mission with passengers Tuesday morning from West Texas, ushering in a new era of private space tourism. And earlier this month another billionaire reached the boundary of space. Richard Branson and his company Virgin Galactic also took a space plane and passengers to the edge of space and back. An auction netted 28 million dollars for a single seat on one of Blue Origin’s flights. Leaders in the space tourism industry touted it as a way to make space for all. But with a high price tag can only the wealthy fly? We’ll dig into the topic of access to space with two guests this week — Retired NASA astronaut and founding direct of the Space For Art Foundation Nicole Stott and space policy expert and former chief of staff of the White House National Space Council, Jared Stout. Will space tourism foster a space for all? That’s ahead on Are We There Yet here on WMFE, America’s Space Station.
29 minutes | Jul 13, 2021
A Countdown To Clean Clothes In Space
Astronauts rarely get the comforts of home. Fresh food is scarce, a hot shower is unheard of, and they’re asked to wear their clothes multiple times before tossing them to the trash. Laundry is something missing from human space exploration, but scientists at Procter and Gamble are hoping to change that. We’ll speak with a research fellow Mark Sivik about the challenges of washing clothes in space and how Tide is hoping to give long-duration astronauts the chance to have fresh clothes. Then, along with training for space flight missions, some astronauts train to become filmmakers, too. We’ll speak with director James Neihouse who schooled up astronauts to shoot IMAX film from space as a part of our new series, Shooting Stars. We’ll also follow the news of Richard Branson’s private space flight and the coming boom in space tourism with space policy and business analyst Laura Forczyk.
28 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
10 Years Since Shuttle: A Look To The Past & Future
On July 8, 2011, Atlantis launched from Kennedy Space Center, the final mission of the shuttle program. Since its first flight in 1981, the space shuttle continued human exploration of space after the Apollo program — sending humans and satellites into space, conducting medical research in orbit, building the International Space Station and ferrying astronauts to spend months-long missions on the orbiting lab. We’ll revisit the Space Shuttle program with two time astronaut Bruce Melnick, who was a mission specialist on both Space Shuttle Discovery and Endeavour. MORE: Hear from other Space Shuttle astronauts. Are We There Yet? host Brendan Byrne compiled this list of his favorite interviews with NASA astronauts. Then, last year NASA returned to human spaceflight after the end of the Shuttle program. The agency’s commercial crew program partners with SpaceX and Boeing to launch astronauts once again from U.S. soil, and so far three SpaceX missions have sent astronauts to the International Space Station. We’ll speak with Space Florida’s Dale Ketcham about the Space Coast plan post-Shuttle…and how commercial companies are filling in the void left by the program.
29 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
Mercury Rising: John Glenn And The Space Race
When we think of the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, we focus much on the Apollo program and the U.S. astronauts who crossed that finish line. But the space race began earlier than that and was far more perilous than we thought. That’s according to a new book by author and historian Jeff Shesol. In Mercury Rising: John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War, Shesol re-examines the cold war space race with a focus on John Glenn and John Kennedy. We’ll speak with Shesol about the book and how John Glenn’s Friendship 7 flight provided the momentum to win the space race. Then, what does it take to photograph celestial phenomena like solar eclipses? Turns out, a lot of math. Are We There Yet’s Randy Vuxta sits down with photographer Julian Diamond about the pre-planning it takes to capture a great shot.
29 minutes | Jun 22, 2021
NASA Investigates UFOS & Tiny Mars Mic Captures Big Sounds
A highly-anticipated report from the Pentagon on Unidentified Aerial Objects or UAPs, is due out later this month. Some UAPs are often called UFOs, and the news of such government investigations has garnered mainstream public interest. Earlier this month, NASA’s new Administrator Bill Nelson signaled the space agency’s interest in the matter. Nelson asked NASA’s science mission directorate to investigate UAPs. We’ll speak with Administrator Nelson about his decision to investigate this phenomenon and how NASA can help to shed light on UAPs. Then, a microphone on Mars is capturing fascinating sounds of the planet. We’ll speak with Andy Bellavia of Knowles, which developed the tech, about how a tiny hearing aid microphone is beaming back big sounds of the red planet. And, we’ll debut a new segment on the show Shooting Stars which profiles launch and astrophotographers as they capture images of exploration. That’s ahead on Are We There Yet here on WMFE — America’s Space Station.
29 minutes | Jun 15, 2021
Space Tourism: Up There & Down Here
A seat on Blue Origin’s first crewed New Shepard flight went for $28 million at auction. The trip promises a launch to the edge of space with breathtaking views and moments of weightlessness and Blue’s founder Jeff Bezos will be there, too. It marks the start of a new chapter of space tourism. Leaders in this industry touted the development of space tourism will open up space for all but with a price tag that high, just who will get to go? Blue Origin isn’t the only player, either. Virgin Galactic and SpaceX both have plans for space tourists. So what’s the future of this burgeoning market? We’ll speak with Laura Forczyk, space policy analyst and founder of consulting firm Astralytical, about the future of space tourism up there. Then, if you can’t afford to go to space, or just want to stay firmly planted on the ground, there’s still plenty to see. We’ll talk with Julia Bergeron, the co-founder of Space Coast Launch Ambassadors about what the Space Coast has to offer for explorers that want to stay here on Earth. The future of space tourism — that’s ahead on Are We There Yet, here on WMFE, America’s Space Station.
29 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
We’re Going To Venus
NASA selected two missions to head to Venus by the end of the 2020s. VERITAS and DAVINCI+ will be the first U.S. mission to Venus in more than three decades. So why study Venus? The surface of the planet is hell. It’s very hot and has a super dense atmosphere, but it once was similar to Earth. Scientists hope that understanding what happened to Venus’ atmosphere could shed light on how our planet formed and serve as a cautionary tale to what could happen to our own Planet. To discuss the two missions, we’ll speak with two Venus experts. First, Paul Byrne, a planetary geologist and associate professor at NC State University about the intrigue and inquiry at our closest planetary neighbor, and what we might learn about this hellish place. Then, we’ll speak with Darby Dyar, a professor of astronomy at Mount Holyoke College and deputy principal investigator for VERITAS about plans to map the surface of Venus and how these findings might help find planets much like our own outside our solar system.
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