Episode 716: A Swan Returns to the Stars

Come along with the Talking Space Team  to NASA’s Kennedy Space as we bring to you the sights and sounds leading up to the return to flight of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus Cargo spacecraft (named after pioneering Astronaut  Donald K. Slayton) and the resumption of ISS logistics delivery from US Soil.  In this special expanded show, we discuss the mission , designated OA4, the  Cygnus itself and just why we are launching this cargo ship from Florida and not its usual home port of Wallops Island, Virginia. Also why we are flying on United Launch Alliance’s AtlasV and not OrbitalATK'sAntares booster. With wind measurements playing a huge factor in this launch (wind delayed in the launch three times) Mark Ratterman takes us on a tour of a key instrument, NASA’s Doppler Radar Wind Profiler. Once fully commissioned the system will serve as another device to make sure the “highway to space” is safe for launch vehicles leaving KSC.  We spend some time with Mr. Frank DeMauro, OrbitalATK’s Vice President of Human Spaceflight Systems to discuss his career and his role in supporting this return to flight mission.

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Episode 715: Moments of Contemplation and Preparation

This Past week, The Expedition 45 Crew on board the International Space Station had to contend with a bit of a power wrinkle that may require a spacewalk next year to repair. They also observed a moment of silence (as do we) for those lost in the Paris Terrorist Attacks. Preparations continue for the Cygnus OA4 Cargo craft at the same time, NASA further delays the announcing the winners of the second round of Commercial Resupply contracts.  NASA Administrator Charles Bolden continues to be adamant that NASA will not take a lead role in Europe’s “lunar village”. Does that leave the door open for Federal Aviation Administration? What happened to the Martian atmosphere, NASA’s MAVEN in orbit around Mars has found the answer. The Martian Moon, Phobos may become rubble, and Virgin Galactic hires its first woman pilot, Kelly Latimer..  

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Episode 714: Looking Through Crystal

The International Space Station celebrated its “crystal anniversary” of occupation on November 2nd, marking 15 years that humans have been continuously on board the orbiting facility. The Expedition 45 Crew paused to reflect on the anniversary and what it means for the future of space exploration going forward. During an investor conference call, CEO David Thompson of Orbital ATK says his company is on track for the Cygnus cargo vehicle to return to flight.  NASA released its findings into the October 28th 2014 Orbital ATK Antares launch mishap, we discuss the findings.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says his agency is “doomed” if “Journey to Mars” roadmap is abandoned. The Cassini spacecraft captures a plume from Saturn’s Moon Enceladus while making an historic close flyby. Finally we profile the humble beginnings of the Paragon Space Development Corporation

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Episode 713: IAC 2015 In The Spotlight

In this special edition, the Talking Space Team puts the  66th Annual International Astronautical Congress which took place in Jerusalem, Israel between October 12th and 16th into focus. Our first stop is a paper presented by our own Kat Robison on the issues surrounding scientists communicating the importance and relevance of their own research to the public.  

The theme for IAC 2015 this year was "Space: The Gateway for Mankind's Future" and we review the various gateways starting to open though the International Space Station, leveraging cis-lunar space, and finally humanity declaring "Earth independence" setting sail for Mars. The episode includes commentary from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and new European Space Agency Director General Johann-Dietrich Wörner. On various concepts including analysis of NASA's Journey to Mars outline and ESA's vision for a permanent research outpost on the lunar surface

Commercial ventures were also a topic at IAC 2015 and the team examines a new launch services company, Bloostar with an interesting approach to placing 100 kg (220 lbs) payloads into orbit. 

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Episode 712: A Tale of Two Swans

There's a new "Ironman" in space flight: Current Space Station commander,  astronaut Scott Kelly , broke the US space endurance record recently and is gearing up for two upcoming US spacewalks on October 28th and November 6.  

We open the strange case of star KIC8462852 some 1480 light years away in the constellation Cygnus the Swan that's is behaving in a weird manner. The conclusion: Aliens? You be the judge. A swan of a different feather: the  Cygnus, cargo space craft built  by OrbitalATK arrived at the Kennedy Space Centerin preparation of theOA-4 mission and its return to flight. We also discuss return to flight efforts by SpaceX and Virgin Galactic  and examine the implications surrounding NASA's Venture Class CubeSat launch contracts recently announced.  

Mark Ratterman sat down with former NASA astronaut Nicole Stott to discuss her start in aviation and Kat Robison gives us a sneak peak at her experiences at the International Astronautical Conference  held in Jerusalem, Israel. 

Show Recorded on 19 October, 2015

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