Special Episodes

These very special episodes range from in-depth coverage of special (or tragic) events to interviews with astronauts, TV personalities, groundbreaking scientists, and more. For more specific categories, please take a look at the drop down menu on the navigation bar.

Episode 1103: Challenger: An American Tragedy – A Conversation With NASA’s Hugh Harris

In this special edition of Talking Space, we talk to the man who was for many years was the voice of Shuttle Launch Control at the Kennedy Space Center, Mr. Hugh Harris. Born in December of 1932 he served as an information specialist with the US Army from 1952 until 1954 …

Episode 1008: Up-Close with the Sun: Part 2

It’s not just about getting to the sun, it’s about the people behind the mission making it all happen. That’s what this episode of Talking Space is all about.

We speak with four integral members of the Parker Solar Probe team. The mission launched successfully in early August. To hear more about the mission along with the spectacular Delta IV Heavy launch audio, be sure to check out Part 1 in Episode 1007.

In this episode, we begin speaking with Dr. Adam Szabo, the mission scientist for Parker Solar Probe. From him we learn more about the mission objectives, how the gravity assist will be different from those in the past, and how PSP fits in with the host of solar observing missions already in orbit.

Next, we speak with David McComas of Princeton University who is in charge of the ISʘIS experiment. We discuss more about the role of the instrument, along with his excitement, plus a person “struggle” so-to-speak that’s he’s used to his advantage and hopes to share with others.

Then, we hear from two of the mission’s leads immediately following the successful liftoff. That includes project scientist and soon to be head of Heliophysics at NASA Nikki Fox and Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen about the status of the mission and what’s next for the spacecraft as it nears its first Venus encounter to help slow it down.

Stay tuned for Part 3, following our normal news episode, featuring a Q&A which you can only hear in high quality in its entirety here with Dr. Eugene Parker. The session was held for a very limited audience before launch and has never been aired in its entirety, so stay tuned!

Show recorded 8-19-2018

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelist: Gene Mikulka with special guest interviews recorded on location at the Kennedy Space Center.

Listen now:

Episode 1007: Up Close with the Sun: Part 1

On part one of this extremely special three-part Talking Space, hear the sound of a Delta IV Heavy launching a mission to the sun and hear from the scientists behind it!

We begin with the successful launch of the Parker Solar Probe mission, which is set to “touch the sun”. This mission will set many records, and you’ll hear all about them. You’ll hear about the delays and the successes, including the launch audio as the Delta IV Heavy roared into the early morning sky and continued to rumble for minutes after launch. Hear from some of the science heads on the mission, as well as the new NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 coming out over the next three weeks where you’ll hear more interviews from scientists, some exclusive behind-the-scenes access and a rare Q&A that you may never hear elsewhere in its entirety.

View a video of the launch from the Vehicle Assembly Building:

View photos from the launch and surrounding activites:

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Show recorded 8-19-2018

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelist: Gene Mikulka with special guest interviews recorded on location at the Kennedy Space Center.

Listen now:

Episode 1004: ‘InSight’ into NEAF

What do you get after one month away? A boat load of news and some amazing interviews for our return from spring break.

We begin looking at the launches of the last month from all corners of the globe. We check out many of the major launch providers and their most recent missions. We also discuss the recent improvements in the quality of their webcasts and our thoughts on what that means for outreach.

We also discuss the announcement of two new NASA managers. First, NASA’s new head of science and of course, the recently confirmed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. We discuss our opinions so far on both of them and what we hope for the future.

Of course we discuss NASA’s next Mars lander which is now on its way, Mars InSight, however we get some “insight” from one of the people who worked on it at this year’s Northeast Astronomy Forum, or NEAF.

At NEAF, we also hear from the authors of “Bringing Columbia Home” about the recovery efforts after the 2003 Columbia disaster. Plus we bring you an amazing story of a young girl from Cosovo who’s taking the US by storm promoting astronomy outreach.

We also have to give a special shout-out to the ESA team working the Bepi Colombo Twitter account, @ESA_Bepi, on taking our wacky suggestion of needing a cute mascot. Make sure to check it out and tweet them if you love it.

Show recorded 5-2-2018

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka and Kassy Tamanini

Episode 1002: Falcon Heavy Finally Flies

7 years…5 blocks…27 engines…2 booster landings…one spectacular Falcon Heavy launch. All that in this episode of Talking Space.

On this very special episode of Talking Space, we discuss the successful demonstration flight of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. The launch took off February 6th, 2018 at 3:45pm ET followed by the two side boosters landing a short time after. The core stage attempted to land on a barge but failed, and we’ll explain why.

Our own Sawyer Rosenstein was there, so be ready to immerse yourself in the sounds of 27 engines firing at once, and be prepared to get startled by six simultaneous sonic booms.

In addition to that, we discuss our thoughts on the payload, Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster car with a dummy named “Starman” inside aimed for a mars orbital insertion distance without the insertion. You’ll get our honest opinions on why some of us like the payload and others don’t. In addition, Sawyer goes into everything that happened from L-1 until after the liftoff. Hear what it’s like to go inside the pad, see more media at the press site than in at least 3 years if not more. You’ll also hear both the good and bad of how the media was handled.

Lastly, we break down the numbers compared to other launch vehicles and see how powerful Heavy really is, and how those numbers led to a war of words on Twitter amongsome major private space companies.

In the show we discuss the comparison between its announcement and its launch. To hear our initial reactions from 2011 right after it was announced, check out a special blog post with a segment from our very own show back in Season 3 by visiting the blog page on our website or clicking here.

To read the thread between Doug Ellison and Elon Musk on Twitter, click here

For the TechCrunch article on what it was like to be there, check out their site here.

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Show recorded 2-12-2018

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman and Kat Robison with special guest Falcon Heavy

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Episode 917: Houston, We Have a Special: Part 2

The final part of our exciting two-part special has us sitting in front of an Orion mock-up chatting with astronauts and project leads.

On this episode of Talking Space, we go into Building 9 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. While there we talk with NASA astronaut Steve Bowen in front of a full-scale mock-up of the Orion capsule that astronauts like Steve use to train everyday. We talk about how the astronaut corps has changed since the end of shuttle. Plus, hear how he used the full-scale mock-ups in the building such as the full International Space Station, a space shuttle trainer, and more.

Next we hear from Jimmy Spivey, the Assistant Director for Orion in the Flight Operations Directorate at Johnson. We get an insight into the progress of the Orion program, how delays from ESA affect the training. We also go into what it takes to train the crew and to coordinate between mutliple NASA centers and countries. We also hear about how Orion and SLS integration is being tested. Most importantly, we hear what he has to say to the nay-sayers who think Orion and SLS will never fly.

We also discuss many of the other cool things in the building, including a full-scale BEAM module, s SARJ, and how Sawyer and Robin entered a fish bowl. All this in the final episode of Season 9. Later this motnh, stay tuned for the debut of Season 10!

Talking Space would like to thanks Brandi Dean and the team at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Office of Communications for their assistance with both parts of this special.

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Show recorded 12-18-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Kat Robison and special guest spaceflight contributor for WIRED Magazine Robin Seemangal

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Episode 916: Houston, We Have a Special: Part 1

Ever wondered how commercial crew training happens at NASA’s Johnson Space Center? Well our team, with the help of an astronaut, take you to Houston for a better idea.

On this episode of Talking Space, we go to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas in the first part of our two-part special. Sawyer along with WIRED Magazine space contributor Robin Seemangal take the trip. In this part, we take you inside the building where astronauts and mission controllers are training on the new commercial crew systems. Go onboard “the bridge” in the middle of a docking simulation. Then, go inside the full scale trainer, hear the thrusters firing, and learn more about the automation involved with new commercial crew vehicles. Veteran NASA astronaut Mike Fincke,who’s assisting with commercial crew, helps out along the way, along with some of the trainers themselves.

Next we journey over to the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, home to one of the world’s largest swimming pools. Inside is a mock-up of the entire ISS…and two astronauts training. Go onto the floor of the pool deck and into the “fish bowl” viewing area above and learn what it’s like to be there during astronaut training. Also find out why it’s not just the ISS inside the pool.

Next week we release part 2, which goes inside “Building 9”, the mock-up facility. Hear about the mock-ups, and learn all about the Orion program training. We’ll talk with another astronaut involved in training for the Orion program and to one of the heads of the Orion program itself to learn about training, progress of the vehicle, and what it takes to learn how to fly America’s next spacecraft.

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Show recorded 12-18-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Kat Robison and special guest spaceflight contributor for WIRED Magazine Robin Seemangal

Listen now:

Episode 911: Hope, Unity, and Courage: The 250th Episode Special

Talking Space is celebrating its 250th episode and 8 year anniversary speical with astronaut and artist Nicole Stott. We discuss with Nicole her time aboard the ISS as part of the Expedition 20 and 21 crews. We discuss her time both working with the Space Shuttle program, as well as flying aboard shuttle and her roles in history with the program. We find out how she became an astronaut, who inspired her, and her words of advice to inspire others, especially girls, to get into STEM careers.

In addition to hearing her amazing stories, we discuss her art, includiing how you paint with watercolors in space. We also discuss her most recent project called the Space Suit Art Project, which allows child cancer patients to put their own art and space suits and flight suits, some of which go into space. Be sure to follow the project on Facebook and Twitter, and also check out this video of astronaut Jack Fisher wearing one of the suits in space.

To learn more about Nicole or to see and purchase her artwork, visit https://www.npsdiscovery.com/

We end with some thank yous as we recognize 8 years and 250 episodes of this show. Thank you to everyone who has ever downloaded this show, however many times you downloaded it. Also a huge thank you to anyone who has ever been on the show or helped make this show possible over our unbelievable tenure. Here’s to 250 more!

Show recorded 9-5-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison and special guest astronaut and artist Nicole Stott

Listen now:

Episode 910: Total Eclipse of the Mind and Sun

How do you describe a solar eclipse on the radio? Listen and find out! On this episode, we begin with the return of the Expedition 52 and looking at the records set by NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson. All this happening ahead of the next crewed launch on September 12. Then it’s onto recent launches, including the Formosat-5 launch aboard a Falcon 9 and the ORS-5 launch on the first ever Minotaur out of Cape Camaveral. We also look at the first major failure of India’s PSLV in tis more than 20 years of flying.

With the recent announcement of a nominee for the currently vacant NASA Administrator position, we discuss the pros and cons of the current choice. Then it’s onto our main topic…the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of 2017. Both Kat and Sawyer were in the path of totality. Hear how “fantastic” it really is and hear what the pictures in the show notes below don’t convey. Hear how far people came and what it took to organize a party for 10,000+ people traveling to a small town just for the eclipse.

Finally, Gene Mikulka reports from Podcast Movement 2017 with special guest Daniel Druhora from USC’s Escape Velocity podcast to discuss how to convey STEM through podcasting.

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Show recorded 9-4-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Mark Ratterman and Kat Robison with a special guest interview by Gene Mikulka

Listen now: