Last week, IAC 2020 brought a flurry of announcements and statements to digest. It’s a good time to check in on current and future lunar politics, with some statements by the ever-antagonistic Rogozin, seven countries signing onto the Artemis Accords, a handful of lunar development contracts announced, and the US election within sight.
The Space Development Agency has selected L3Harris and SpaceX to produce satellites for a missile warning constellation. I break down the details of the SDA project, the technical aspects, and what it means to see SpaceX enter the world of satellite manufacturing and sales.
I’m back after a few wonderful weeks offline with my newly-arrived son, Will! I figured I’d jump back in with a rundown of the important and notable bits of news that happened while I was gone.
There have been a ton of recent updates from commercial small launch companies, like increased payload mass and volume from Rocket Lab, contracts and funding from ABL, solved vibration issues from Virgin Orbit, and a few others. With a handful of vehicles on the verge of their first launch, it’s a good time to take a higher-level look at these competitors.
The long-awaited news is finally here! ULA and SpaceX have won the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 launch contracts from the US Department of Defense, which leaves Blue Origin’s New Glenn and Northrop Grumman’s OmegA out in the cold. I talk through what this means for each company and launch vehicle, and where things will go from here on all sides of the issue.
Phillip Hargrove, a Launch Vehicle Trajectory Analyst at NASA joins me to talk about NASA’s Launch Services Program. We discuss how LSP interacts with mission teams like Mars 2020 Perseverance, launch providers like United Launch Alliance and SpaceX, and what kind of work they tackle in their unique role tying it all together.
Two members of the Astrobotic team join me for a conversation: Laura Klicker, Payload Systems Management Lead, and Daniel Gillies, Mission Director for the Griffin/VIPER mission. We talk about Astrobotic’s first Peregrine mission coming up next year, the very exciting VIPER mission to the south pole of the Moon in 2023, payload management across multiple flights, the technical aspects of their various vehicles, and a whole lot more.
Caleb Henry of SpaceNews returns to the show to talk about the OneWeb acquisition and related fallout, Starlink antennas, the ongoing C-band drama including the satellite-buying bonanza, and he helps us understand the FCC-GPS-Ligado situation.
To start, there’s exciting news! My son is due at the end of August, and so I’ll be taking some time off after he arrives. Before that, I wanted to check in on two storylines.
Professional shit-stirrer Dmitry Rogozin made it pretty clear that Russia is not interested in the Artemis Program, while various countries around the world partner with NASA on it. And we’re only a few weeks out from the NSSL Phase 2 awards and there is some related budgetary considerations being debated, so it’s a...
NASA recently established the Suborbital Crew office within the Commercial Crew Program, which will focus on developing a plan to fly personnel on suborbital spaceflights. At the same time, Virgin Galactic signed an agreement with NASA to provide private orbital spaceflights to the ISS.
Grant Bonin, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Spaceflight joins me to talk about everything they’ve been up to lately, including being acquired, signing deals with SpaceX for rideshares on Starlink missions and on dedicated flights to SSO, signing deals with new launch companies and international providers, and a lot more including manifesting satellites, last-mile services, and about what makes Spaceflight unique.
Mark Wiese, Manager of NASA’s Gateway Deep Space Logistics, joins me to talk about the logistics architecture for Gateway and, specifically, the selection of SpaceX and Dragon XL for missions in the future. He even lets me get really nerdy and responds to some of my complaints and questions from past episodes!
Northrop Grumman was awarded $187 million for the Gateway Habitat design, which caps off NASA’s 2020 budget work for Artemis components. Additionally, Kathy Lueders was named head of human spaceflight at NASA, which is huge and fantastic news. We take a look at the Artemis program’s acquisitions so far and the road ahead under Lueders’ leadership.
It happened! American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. Bob and Doug successfully launched, docked to the ISS, and joined Expedition 63. I talk about what this means for SpaceX, NASA, space policy, and where things go from here.
The head of human spaceflight at NASA resigned last week, just before the most important crewed launch the agency has seen in a decade. However, it appears as though the resignation is related to the Artemis program and its landers. I give some thoughts on the implications of the departure, and also cover a recent development in international space politics—the Artemis Accords.
NASA announced three contract awards for the Artemis Progam’s Human Landing System—a Blue Origin-led team, Dynetics, and SpaceX’s Starship. I talk through some thoughts on each landing system and what the future might hold for NASA, regarding both politics and decisions.
Sean Mahoney, CEO of Masten Space Systems joins me to talk about everything they’ve been up to lately, from flights of their terrestrial vehicles out in Mojave, NASA’s Lunar CATALYST program, their recent Commercial Lunar Payload Services task order award, and some other projects like DARPA’s XS-1, the Broadsword engine, and XEUS.
Peter Beck, Founder, CEO, and CTO of Rocket Lab returns to the show to talk about how the industry is dealing with the pandemic, and to update us on their busy past few months, including their acquisition of Sinclair Interplanetary, flying missions to the Moon and beyond, and their work towards reusability.
Tim Ellis, CEO and Cofounder of Relativity joins me for an in-depth discussion about Relativity’s status and work towards their first launch. We cover everything from their company vision, funding, new headquarters, wider fairing, customer backlog, potential west coast launch site, and dive into the details of Stargate and Relativity’s materials work.
A flurry of Commercial Crew news hit last week: new crew members were announced for SpaceX Crew-1, Jim Bridenstine shed some light on the DM-2 schedule, and Boeing will refly the Starliner uncrewed test flight. I break down each of those and talk through why those stories are more connected than was hinted at by NASA and others.
NASA selected SpaceX and their new Dragon XL vehicle as the first Gateway Logistics Services provider. I take some time to think through why SpaceX is interested in this program, what they might want to get out of it, and what we could see Dragon XL doing in the future.
After a tumultuous past few years, DARPA has selected a new partner for RSGS. It is none other than Northrop Grumman, who has found early success with their satellite servicing ventures.
SpaceX recently signed two agreements: one with Axiom Space to fly a private mission up to the ISS, and one with Space Adventures for a free-flying tourist flight up to 1,000 kilometers. I discuss these two missions and why agreements like this are key to SpaceX’s long-term strategy.
Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, joins me to talk all about SpaceX’s Starship, its history thus far, it’s nearly-impossible-to-keep-up-with development in the open, and what we may see in the coming months. We make some timeline predictions, talk about the predicament of Boca Chica, and both randomly stumble into completely unsupported theories.