This episode takes off with the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket carrying the second pair of satellites for the U.S. Air Force’s Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP). Looking ahead to the company’s next launch for the NASA mission OSIRIS-REX and even further to the test flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, we also discuss their not-quite-as-high-tech but welcome efforts to upgrade the company’s launch stream for the public. Continuing with the return of crewed spaceflight to American shores, we take a look at the results of the RS-25 engine firing test for NASA’s Space Launch System and upcoming tests for the program intended to take us to Mars. SpaceX’ launch of the JCSAT satellites rounds out a very busy August for the space industry before the month has even concluded.
At the other end of the launch process, spacewalkers Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins successfully installed the first International Docking Adapter on the ISS to enable docking of a variety of spacecraft, including the upcoming commercial crew vehicles.
As commercial access to the ISS increases there is an idea of extending the life of the station by selling it off when the space agencies involved end their cooperative agreements to keep the orbiting lab afloat. Is this feasible? Are there other options for using the station beyond the current plans and what would it take to make them happen? What is the future of not just the ISS but laboratories in orbit?
In the even nearer future, Russia has announced their plans to reduce the amount of cosmonauts on station just after news broke of plans to invest in researching a trip to the moon. Again, is this feasible? We discuss the relationship between dreaming and pragmatism when it comes to space exploration, particularly in the two premier spacefaring nations.
After all this speculation on the future of space exploration, we take a look back at the days when America was dreaming and preparing for all of this with the X-15. Mark brings our attention to the White Eagle Aerospace blog with just a little sample of the fascinating histories they are preserving over there. We highly recommend visiting the site, with a warning that you might not be able to pull yourself away for a few hours.
Show Recorded 08-22-2016
Host: Sawyer Rosenstein
Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, and Kassy Tamanini