David Fourman and Ben Etherington

The Orbital Mechanics Podcast

Every week we cover the latest spaceflight news, discuss past, current and future exploration efforts, and take a look at upcoming events. Tune in to hear about how humans get to space, how they stay in space and how unmanned craft reach farther and farth
The Orbital Mechanics Podcast


Every other week we cover the latest spaceflight news, discuss past, current and future exploration efforts, and take a look at upcoming events. Tune in to hear about how humans get to space, how they stay in space and how unmanned craft reach farther and farther into the universe around us.

Link: theorbitalmechanics.com/show-notes/


Science & Medicine


Episode 215: Shibboleth

Jun 18, 2019 00:44:10


This week in SF history

22 June 1978. Discovery of Pluto’s moon Charon by John Christy (wikipedia.org)

Spaceflight news

Psyche review/preview (spacenews.com)

Just passed Key Decision Point C (PDF: nasa.gov)

Multispectral Imager is based on MSL’s Mastcam, MAHLI, and MARDI (hou.usra.edu)

Deep space laser communication demo (wikipedia.org)

Short & Sweet

India’s Chandrayaan-2 has launch date (theprint.in)

India has plans for its own space station. (parabolicarc.com)

SOFIA improvements (spacenews.com)

Questions, comments, corrections

Valentin Frank: follow up on Tereshkova’s head injury

/u/MomoSapiensAD: Herschel mission time correction (reddit.com/r/orbitalpodcast)

Apollo / Mariner / Viking / Voyager oral history (twitter.com/jccwrt)

Support the Rocket Cat fund! (gofundme.com)

A fantastic artist’s rendering of Psyche at 16 Psyche

A fantastic artist’s rendering of Psyche at 16 Psyche

16 Psyche’s orbit

16 Psyche’s orbit

Psyche mission insignia

Psyche mission insignia

Possible Corn Nut shape of 16 Psyche based on light curve and occlusion data

Possible Corn Nut shape of 16 Psyche based on light curve and occlusion data

Episode 214: Spitzering Nails

Jun 11, 2019 00:27:31


Spitzer is being retired at long last. Also, a commercial ISS, an HP3 troubleshooting idea, and a launch from sea.

Episode 213: DOWNLINK--Laura Forczyk answers employment questions

Jun 4, 2019 01:09:28


We're welcoming back Laura Forczyk and answering common career questions from Reddit!

Episode 212: Cosmic Choo-Choo

May 28, 2019 00:44:28


60 Starlink satellites down, thousands to go. Also, Hayabusa2 aborts a deployment, students reach space, and OSIRIS-REx needs your help!

Episode 211: Making a Mark

May 21, 2019 00:35:39


Photos of a Spaceship being constructed in Florida emerged, as did a Beresheet-shaped splat on the Moon.

Episode 210: Free Two-Day to Luna

May 14, 2019 00:37:27


Old news about a parachute failure, and new predictions about a feather on the Moon.

Episode 209: DATA RELAY--Brazil Space

May 7, 2019 01:12:48


Brazil has a long history of reaching out of our atmosphere. Today we talk about the triumphs, failures, and even a conspiracy theory of Brazilian Space.

Episode 208: MagneNOmeter

Apr 30, 2019 00:32:06


We're excited about Europa Clipper, even though one of its instruments just got a downgrade.

Episode 207: DOWNLINK--Keri Bean

Apr 23, 2019 01:06:45


Keri Bean not only worked on Opportunity during its operation, but was on the recovery team that tried to save it.

Episode 206: Lithobrake Backup

Apr 16, 2019 00:26:37


Beresheet, after becoming the first commercial vehicle to orbit the moon, suffered a chain of failures that resulted in its gasification.


Apr 9, 2019 01:04:31


As the UCF Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition team works their way up the technology tree, they've now developed a hybrid rocket engine.

Episode 204: Space Skull

Apr 2, 2019 00:33:50


It takes twelve working hours to prep an EMU for a spacewalk.

Episode 203: DOWNLINK--Erika Hamden

Mar 27, 2019 01:19:49


Professor Hamden is building a space telescope, and talks to us about what it takes to design a spacecraft.

Episode 202: Kick an SLS while it's down

Mar 19, 2019 00:22:32


SLS flying has never been a guarantee, but now thoughts are now being given to putting Orion on commercial launchers.

Episode 201: DOWNLINK--Anthony Scodary

Mar 12, 2019


AI is prevalent in the modern day, and it's time to apply it to space exploration.

Episode 200: Bicentepisode

Mar 5, 2019 00:34:37


Crew Dragon made it to orbit and we made it to episode 200!

Episode 199: DATA RELAY--Hypergolics

Feb 27, 2019 01:15:30


Are your rocket propellants mixing and not igniting? Maybe you should try hypergolics!

Episode 198: 45.16 kilometers

Feb 19, 2019 00:38:47


We say goodbye to Opportunity, the superlative-ridden Rover That Could.

Episode 197: DOWNLINK--Composite Materials

Feb 12, 2019 01:11:45


When one material just won't do the job, try mixing two together.

Episode 196: This Engine's Got Gas

Feb 5, 2019 00:35:49


One last chance for Oppy, and a brand new life for Raptor.

Episode 195: DATA RELAY--Spacecraft Navigation

Jan 30, 2019 01:09:26


Ever been asked to be the navigator on a roadtrip? As far as we’re concerned, you did guidance. Here’s how spacecraft navigate.

Episode 194: DATA RELAY--Exotic Propulsion Methods

Jan 23, 2019 01:22:21


Rockets, shmockets. Let's talk about other ways to get around in space.

Episode 193: Blinded by Overvoltage

Jan 15, 2019 00:28:38


We're on a bit of a Hubble kick, I guess. Also, Hayabusa2, Stratolaunch and some SpaceX news.

Episode 192: DATA RELAY--Sea Dragon

Jan 9, 2019 01:19:22


Sea Dragon is the airship of rockets. It's more realistic than you might expect, but there are some "hidden" reasons why it never took over the market.

Episode 191: One Small Step For a Small Rover

Jan 1, 2019 00:39:07


Chang'e-4 is preparing to land on the Moon, so let's talk a bit about what it's going to do.

Episode 190: Tin Can

Dec 25, 2018 00:40:37


This week we get glimpse into SpaceX's plans for Starship.

Episode 189: Rocket Surgery

Dec 18, 2018 00:40:22


*Stab stab stab* "Please be careful, Oleg! Take your time!" *stab stab stab*

Episode 188: Pirouette

Dec 11, 2018 00:36:10


CRS-16 had an interesting landing, and we got a mini-update on BFS.

Episode 187: Scarcely a One At All

Dec 2, 2018 00:16:35


It's a short one this week due to prior commitments. However, we're doing a meetup next week in Phoenix!

Episode 186: DOWNLINK--Richard Witherspoon

Nov 27, 2018 01:11:17


OSIRIS-REx is approaching Asteroid Bennu, and today we're talking to a systems engineer from Lockheed Martin to learn more about the vehicle itself.

Episode 185: Let it burn

Nov 20, 2018 00:31:50


We moan about SLS and Falcon 9's expendable upper stage.

Episode 184: DATA RELAY--Mars InSight

Nov 13, 2018 01:14:14


As InSight nears its own seven minutes of terror, we wanted to become more familiar with the lander.

Episode 183: Case Closed

Nov 6, 2018 00:33:39


Dawn has run out of fuel, and MS-10 had a bent pin.

Episode 182: Astronomia Nova

Oct 30, 2018 00:28:46


Gaining confidence in Soyuz and beginning to say goodbye to Kepler!

Episode 181: Oxygen the Enemy

Oct 23, 2018 00:32:16


Hubble will recover, and Rocket Lab will launch from the East coast.

Episode 180: DATA RELAY--Saturn V Umbilicals

Oct 17, 2018 01:42:27


Saturn V was an amazing rocket, but, like the astronauts, it didn't do its job alone. Today, we're talking about the arms on the Launch Umbilical Tower!

Episode 179: DATA RELAY--Combustion Instability

Oct 9, 2018 01:19:39


Rockets are controlled explosions. Let's talk about how we keep them from tearing the vehicle apart!

Episode 178: DATA RELAY--Power Generation

Oct 2, 2018 00:58:00


Power generation in space is hard, but at least there are lots of options to chose from!

Episode 177: 1/80,000 G

Sep 25, 2018 00:50:33


Hayabusa 2 made it to Ryugu, and TESS found some exoplanets!

Episode 176: Delta Done

Sep 18, 2018 00:49:45


Another Fall, another BFR update. Also, a hybrid rocket spaceplane, an Orion parachute test and the last Delta II.

Episode 175: A Little Shimmy

Sep 11, 2018 00:37:37


SLS' Mobile Launcher made a big move, and Exos' SARGE did too!

Episode 174: Not with a bang, but with a hiss

Sep 4, 2018 00:42:07


While the (lack of) excitement continues for Oppy, the ISS sprung a leak!

Episode 173: Don't Lose Both!

Aug 28, 2018 00:30:44


We're about to lose Kepler, but hopefully we won't lose Opportunity!

Episode 172: Matryoshka Doll Impression

Aug 21, 2018 00:45:34


The Smithsonian Air and Space museum is doing a huge update, there’s a Russian satellite that at least one person is worried about (but we’re not) and we need your input on Season 3!

Episode 171: Smallsat Launchers and Smallsat Launcher Accessories

Aug 14, 2018 00:31:16


I tell you what, Firefly, Ursa Major, Rocketlab and Stellar Exploration all made it into the news this week, and that's anything but asinine.

Episode 170: Space Test Pilot

Aug 7, 2018 00:32:05


This week, we got a huge update on the progress of commercial crew, including a list of the first assigned astronauts on Dragon and Starliner flights!

Episode 169: The Storm STILL Looms

Jul 31, 2018 00:24:00


Starliner's history has more explosions than previously thought, SpaceshipTwo flies higher than previously flown and Mars is more thirst-quenchy than previously known.

Episode 168: Goosing ISS

Jul 25, 2018 00:27:43


Blue Origin burns high, Cygnus burns higher and Parker Solar Probe B plans to burn highest.

Episode 167: Fifty Four Nozzles

Jul 18, 2018 00:28:50


An end for LC-17 and a beginning for Crew Dragon?

Episode 166: Chee or Kee?

Jul 11, 2018 00:33:52


A single-instrument exoplanet telescope is preparing to launch, and a multi-use launch system is hoping to get there too.

Episode 165: Red Foam

Jul 4, 2018 00:32:44


LauncherOne readies for orbit while Momo-2 nopes out of a flight.

Episode 164: Bye Bye Block 4

Jun 29, 2018 00:18:00


NASA is looking for a power and propulsion module for their mythical cis-Lunar space station.

Episode 163: The Storm Looms

Jun 19, 2018 00:26:24


Opportunity is digging in, and so are we.

Episode 162: Regolith Nap

Jun 12, 2018 00:30:46


NASA isn't grabbing ISS and heading to the nearest yard sale, SpaceX is expanding at KSC and *yikes* Opportunity is doing a Mark Watney impression.

Episode 161: DOWNLINK--TU Delft DARE

Jun 5, 2018 01:06:51


A team of engineering students at TU Delft are fighting to reclaim their rocketry altitude record.

Episode 160: DOWNLINK--Eric Blood

May 29, 2018 01:03:25


Eric Blood worked on the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, which does have a ballute, but not where we thought.

Episode 159: DOWNLINK--Dr. Dmitry Savransky

May 22, 2018 01:10:55


I’m supposed to put an episode description here, but I’m just going to say “Modular Active Self-Assembling Space Telescope Swarms” and leave it at that.

Episode 158: Version F

May 15, 2018 00:35:34


SpaceX flew their first Falcon 9 v6! Or, no, wait, Falcon 9 Block VI. No, wait, Falcon 9 Block 5.

Episode 157: Sunset Parafoil

May 8, 2018 00:24:43


We discussed several topics, but I'm still just taken by that fairing recovery photo.

Episode 156: Cracked and Canceled

May 1, 2018 00:31:47


Mars 2020 needs a new heat shield, and the lunar Resource Prospector instruments need a new platform!

Episode 155: Party Balloon

Apr 24, 2018 00:31:26


Elon Musk reveals a potential second stage reuse strategy, and Orbital ATK gives a new name to NGLS

Episode 154: DOWNLINK--Tess Caswell

Apr 17, 2018 01:12:13


Tess Caswell has done a lot of things, but today we're talking to her about her time sitting at the ETHOS desk in ISS MCC, controlling the life support systems on Station.

Episode 153: Falling with Style

Apr 10, 2018 00:35:11


We discuss Falcon 9 fairings falling out of the skies, the return of SpaceShipTwo to the skies, and a new launch company hoping to make it to the skies.

Episode 152: Waiting for Tiangong I

Apr 3, 2018 00:33:27


Back before Tiangong I came crashing down, we passed the waiting time talking about other large uncontrolled objects that have re-entered, NOAA's camerashyness, and Blue Origin's new/old engine selection.

Episode 151: Plans Underway

Mar 27, 2018 00:31:13


Dawn prepares to spiral down the drain (but with science!), and Astra prepares to peek their heads into daylight.

Episode 150: The One With the Mystery Guest

Mar 20, 2018 00:46:48


We're introducing a brand new segment, where we try and guess who a mystery guest is! Also, Fregat failure news, CRS-7 failure analysis and so much more.

Episode 149: Boosters All the Way Down

Mar 13, 2018 00:36:21


Footage of the Falcon Heavy center booster, a discussion of the Hispasat booster, Stratolaunch as a spaceplane booster and Swarm Tech shouldn't have been on a booster.

Episode 148: Striking Distance

Mar 7, 2018 00:29:48


JWST keeps falling out of striking distance, F9 B5 is within striking distance of its first flight, and Hyabusa 2 is about to pounce on Ryugu!

Episode 147: DOWNLINK--Al Bowers

Feb 28, 2018 01:12:16


One crazy trick trajectory engineers don't want you to know about! Also, keep an eye on Juno, and SpaceX is having more fairing issues.

Episode 146: Catcher's Mitt

Feb 21, 2018 00:30:30


We discuss US EVA-48, a secretive smallsat launcher, a new ASDS, Mr. Steven and SPX science certification.

Episode 145: Interplanetary Bowie

Feb 14, 2018 00:58:00


Falcon Heavy woooooo! We spent most of the recording running around cheering, but eventually we settled down and also talked about a very fast Progress, a scuttled F9 booster and JWST's optics package.

Episode 144: DOWNLINK--Dr. Rob Hoyt

Feb 7, 2018


Rob Hoyt is founder and CEO of Tethers Unlimited, a smallsat component company that produces a number of very handy bolt-on components. Also, the smallest orbital-class launcher and an Ariane 5 revisit.

Episode 143: Stuck in a Funk

Jan 31, 2018 00:44:18


We were shocked to find out there was more on the first orbital Electron than a Dove and two Lemurs! We also chew over Ariane 5's partial failure.

Episode 142: I Never Want to Hold Again

Jan 24, 2018 00:36:23


Rocket Lab made it to orbit! Also, upcoming EVAs, RS-25 stand test, a tiny Zuma update and a toasty Atlas V launch.

Episode 141: No Neptune Jokes

Jan 17, 2018 00:33:47


Falcon Heavy still hasn't had a static fire, Long March is lucky not to have started a (building) fire, we hear more from Blue Origin, from NASA on SPX crew flights and Rocket Lab's Still Testing.

Episode 140: Sandwich Smuggler

Jan 10, 2018 00:35:30


This week, we had to say goodbye to one of the most experienced astronauts. Godspeed, John!

Episode 139: Holding Our Breath

Jan 3, 2018 00:37:06


Falcon Heavy shows continued signs of actually flying sooner than six months in the future, Angosat-1 had a hiccup and Blue Origin buys land.


Dec 20, 2017 00:56:25


Students for the Exploration and Development of Space has a chapter at University of Central Florida, and they've entered the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition. They had a successful failure last year, and now they're here to talk about their run up for next year.

Episode 137: Cartouche

Dec 13, 2017 00:29:44


3D printed rockets, cubesat toys and commercial lunar landings.

Episode 136: Up to Date Config Files

Dec 6, 2017 00:38:45


A Frigat-M went Full Kerbal, Elon Musk promises to go Full Kerbal in the future, Voyager is being clever with engine degradation and SLC-40 is good to go!

Episode 135: CRUSTy

Nov 29, 2017 00:41:17


We found out more info about Dream Chaser's drop test, and we discuss a new space nuclear reactor

Episode 134: Zuma Zoom

Nov 22, 2017 00:32:52


We now know what Zuma probably looks like, but who the heck is operating it? Also, some info on New Glenn and LauncherOne.

Episode 133: The Six Loneliest People

Nov 15, 2017 00:27:27


We blew up a Merlin and dropped a Dream Chaser.

Episode 132: DOWNLINK--Laura Forczyk

Nov 8, 2017 01:20:26


Laura Forczyk studies the space industry professionally, and we get to talk to her about what services she provides as well as some of her predictions!

Episode 131: The Race for Space (Based Internet)

Nov 1, 2017 00:40:03


Will we see the race for space internet begin in the next few months?

Episode 130: DOWNLINK--Zach Weinersmith

Oct 25, 2017 01:25:28


Zach and Kelly Weinersmith just published a book called Soonish, a humorous-but-factual look at 10 upcoming technologies. Since a few are in space, we thought we'd talk to Zach about the book!

Episode 129: DOWNLINK--Eliécer Hernández

Oct 18, 2017 01:09:13


VRSS-2 was recently launched on a Long March. While it's a fairly conventional Earth observation satellite, we got ahold of its system designer to talk about what makes it different and what the challenges were in building it.

Episode 128: DOWNLINK--Dr. Lee Bennett

Oct 11, 2017 01:21:52


Dr. Bennett is the Spitzer Science Center Deputy Manager, and we got to talk to him about the space telescope's history and operations.

Episode 127: Not-Quite-So-Big Falcon Rocket

Oct 4, 2017 01:10:35


This week we mostly talk about Elon Musk's IAC presentation.

Episode 126: Deorbit ATK

Sep 27, 2017 00:40:53


Tianzhou 1 is done, and so is Orbital ATK.

Episode 125: Mars Rocks

Sep 20, 2017 00:40:05


NASA outlines an exciting, laser-focused Mars sample return mission, and SpaceX released another photo of their flight suit.

Episode 124: Sat in a Cage

Sep 6, 2017 00:31:33


We discuss the recent loss of IRNSS 1H, trapped in its fairing, and we learn about a newly discovered flaw in Intelsat-33e's stationkeeping thrusters. Also we get a little more clarification of the Dragonrider suit.

Episode 123: Mmmm, CREAMy

Aug 30, 2017 00:42:46


Let's go shopping for pressure suits. Also, ISS gets CREAMy, and Orion and Orbital ATK both get fire-y!

Episode 122: Low-Enriched Uranium

Aug 23, 2017 00:33:05


Nuclear propulsion, a promise of new space suits, TDRS-M is healthy, the X-Prize will never be won, and another launchpad at KSC.

Episode 121: It's not their fault!

Aug 16, 2017 00:43:57


We learn more about the Rocket Lab's first flight failure, a minimalistic cubsat failure , and an H-IIA that was grounded (due to a failure)

Episode 120: DOWNLINK--Jason Seagram

Aug 9, 2017 00:50:58


Jason Seagram works at CSA, and was a major part of the recent MBSU RnR.

Episode 119: Myopia Runs in the Family

Aug 2, 2017 00:29:17


There are two MPLMs in storage right now... and one of them might be headed to the moon! Also, another short-sighted US space telescope.

Episode 118: DOWNLINK--Louis Perna

Jul 26, 2017 01:17:04


Accion Systems is an MIT spin-off that's developing a new type of electric propulsion, and a very promising one! Also, we heard a bit of Mars news from Elon Musk.

Episode 117: Brought to You By Questions, Comments and Correction Burns

Jul 19, 2017 00:46:30


TDRS-M got a little banged up during encapsulation, and Moon Express shows off a mockup! Also, lots of questions, comments and correction burns; let's all get smarter!

Episode 116: Overperformance and underperformance

Jul 12, 2017 00:41:12


XCOR is no mor, F9 overperformed, Chinasat made up for an underperformance.

Episode 115: DOWNLINK--Kam Bahrami

Jul 5, 2017 01:16:55


Kam Bahrami sits at the ROBO desk at ISS MCC. We have a quick discussion with him about robotics on Station and the Roll-out Solar Array experiment in particular.

Episode 114: Baseball Reference

Jun 28, 2017 00:26:15


ESA gears up for Prometheus and SpaceX busies itself getting payloads into space.

Episode 113: The Crowd Speaks

Jun 21, 2017 00:42:52


Orion gets an abort motor test, ROSA gets a deployment test and Pirs stays put.

Episode 112: DOWNLINK--Sharad Bhaskaran

Jun 14, 2017 01:16:27


Sharad Bhaskaran is Astrobotic's Mission Director, which means he's going to be responsible for sending payloads to the surface of the Moon. Also: lots of SpaceX speculation and two fantastic correction burns, one from Ben Honey of Johnson Space Center!

Episode 111: Unexpected Departure

Jun 7, 2017 00:32:44


An unexpected ISS departure, the Space Foursquare Ball is halfway to the finish line, Stratolaunch stretches its legs, and SpaceX has a ticket price in mind for Red Dragon.

Episode 110: A Tap on the Shoulder

May 31, 2017 00:47:16


Successful failures all around! BE-4 has an explosion, Rocketlab reaches space, Schiaparelli gets investigated and LRO gets tapped on the shoulder.

Guest show: Notion.farm Episode 1

May 24, 2017 00:59:39


Since nothing much happened in the news this week, we decided to take a break and instead bring you an episode from a new podcast, hosted by Ben Etherington and Chris Radcliff. Find more episodes at Notion.farm.

Episode 109: Dropped Dome

May 17, 2017 00:23:50


Both NASA and Masten damaged some very expensive equipment this week.

Episode 108: Mars Automated Giant Gizmo for Integrated Engineering

May 10, 2017 00:45:48


Ben talks for too long about his trip to JPL. Vector flies a rocket, ARCA shows off a a crazy rocket, NASA wants cubesats with lasers IN SPACE, and X-37B ends its streak.

Episode 107: DOWNLINK--Scott Wray

May 3, 2017 01:19:32


Scott Wray trains astronauts and flight controllers to perform and support EVAs. Yes, that's pretty much as cool as you can get. Also, JWST, a handful of short-and-sweet news items and a double handful of comments and corrections!

Episode 106: Who's Afraid of a Sparkle Chicken?

Apr 26, 2017 00:34:54


It's a short show this week. We talk about a Linux nerd in space, China's new cargo vehicle, and some tidbits from a listener going through our archives.


Apr 19, 2017 01:18:17


In a rocket building competition, you can only back one team, and we made our choice. Also, 3D printed combustion chambers and on-orbit window replacements!

Episode 104: The Orbital Martians

Apr 12, 2017 01:36:28


This week we had a few crossed wires, and Jake Robins from the We Martians podcast got dumped into our recording session! We talk about Viking, SLS, Blue Moon and Red Dragon! A very Martian show!

Episode 103: DOWNLINK--Zero 2 Infinity

Apr 5, 2017 01:40:15


Zero 2 Infinity is going to orbit in a very unusual way. Also, SES-10 goes boldly where it's gone before, and Scott Wray talks to us about a recent Space Hack!

Episode 102: DOWNLINK--Niall

Mar 29, 2017 01:25:21


Niall is an anonymous Wikipedia editor who has done a lot of work on SpaceX articles. We talk to him about seeing SpaceX develop over the years as well as Wikipedia and emergent processes in general. Also, US astros do an EVA, SpaceX does a robot and X-37B does a record breaking.

Episode 101: Back to Basic (Flight Profiles)

Mar 22, 2017 00:39:41


A whacky rocket idea and an expended rocket.

Episode 100: Patreon Supporter Appreciation Episode

Mar 15, 2017 01:01:38


Lots of voices on our [arbitrary base 10 milestone] episode! Orbital ATK has a blast from the past, New Glenn has six blasts planned in the future and Proton will provide a slightly larger volume blast! Also a killer sponsor and a jaw-dropping giveaway.

Episode 99: A Dang Moon Thing

Mar 8, 2017 00:49:02


SpaceX wants to put people around the Moon again, but it's gonna be tough. China built a new rocket, and MAVEN is lighter on its toes than you might expect.

Episode 98: Rockets for Everyone!

Mar 1, 2017 00:42:15


Sea Launch is in the news for perhaps the last time, Dragon hits the racetrack and RS-25 prepares for it a new lease on life.

Episode 97: DOWNLINK--Ben Wilking

Feb 22, 2017 00:52:34


Atec Inc. was contracted to manufacture and assemble parts used on the most recent two EVAs on ISS. Ben Wilking was the project manager, and we get to talk to him about hand-squeezing rivets that go into space.

Episode 96: Arcnice

Feb 15, 2017 00:38:15


Tornadoes, kites, airlocks and rocket rumors.

Episode 95: DOWNLINK--Emory Stagmer

Feb 8, 2017 01:06:03


We finally got VAXHeadroom on the show! Emory is a spacecraft designer for Northrop-Grumman. While he normally designs software, he's also the author of the world's only reaction sphere control theory. Also, SpaceX has a new launch pad almost ready to go.


Feb 1, 2017 01:21:28


AMARCS is an additive manufacturing project from UC Boulder, and we get a chance to talk to the professor running the project as well as the student project manager. Also, another Proton failure is spotted early, and Boeing shows off their new flight suit!

Episode 93: DOWNLINK--Chris Hofmann

Jan 25, 2017 01:13:50


Chris Hofmann is a rocket wrangler for Masten Space, and we have a great conversation with him about what it takes to test and maintain rockets every day. Also, an extended mission for BEAM, European GPS satellites are losing track of time and we find out what happened to Progress in December.

Episode 92: DOWNLINK--Mark Wallace

Jan 18, 2017 01:02:24


Mark Wallace is an interplanetary travel agent. We got to talk to him about sending Insight and other payloads to other planets! Also, SpaceX does a great job, and SS-520 doesn't have such a great day.

Episode 91: 48 Batteries

Jan 11, 2017 00:41:50


The first of two long EVA was successfully completed, beginning the long process of changing all 48 power loop batteries. Also, two satellites didn't collide!

Episode 90: Recorded the day before F9 RTF was announced

Jan 4, 2017 00:40:57


This week, we tell Tim "Everyday Astronaut" Dodd to go fly a kite. Or a giant cargo plane. Also, we begin the countdown to episode 100!

Episode 89: I Refuse to Say Venereal

Dec 21, 2016 00:34:58


Electron takes a step closer to flight, we learn a bit more about Juno's safemode, and SpaceX takes a step back from crewed spaceflight

Episode 88: Godspeed, John Glenn!

Dec 14, 2016 00:35:14


This week, we lost a major icon of the space race, and we take a bit of time away from engineering to honor his life. Also, SpaceX lost a customer, and we announce callsign T-shirt winners!

Episode 87: À La Carte Rocketry

Dec 7, 2016 00:37:07


We lost a Progress, but SpaceShipTwo is doing well!

Episode 86: Hacksaw Hack

Nov 30, 2016 00:42:22


STS-114 had heat shield issues on orbit, so we talk about the procedures that got them home safe. Also, we find out a little more about ESA's failed Mars lander, we're hopeful for a SpaceX flight in a few weeks, and EDRS is completed.

Episode 85: Fried Chicken Special

Nov 23, 2016 00:38:01


This week SpaceX takes another step towards RTF and we learn about a new scramjet from down under!

Episode 84: I Used Your Toothbrush

Nov 16, 2016 00:36:16


SpaceX failed to blow up it's ITS prototype tank, Beagle2 failed less than it might have, and did you remember to bring your toothbrush?

Episode 83: DOWNLINK--NASA Centennial Challenge: 3D Printed Habitats

Nov 9, 2016 01:16:34


NASA and Bradley University are hosting a 3D printed habitat challenge! We talk to a broad swath of people involved with the project.

Episode 82: DOWNLINK--Tom Singer

Nov 2, 2016 01:16:50


Tom Singer has worked for many space companies, but today, we wanted to talk to him about his work on Shuttle, and it's connection with the Mobile Launch Platform.

Episode 81: That Counts As Arriving At Mars

Oct 26, 2016 00:33:38


ExoMars is... definitely at Mars. Also, Juno continues to have issues and China has astronauts on orbit!

Episode 80: Helium Problems at Jupiter

Oct 19, 2016 00:33:39


Juno has some issues with its LEROS engine, and the Starliner-Delta system needs some modifications to fly straight.

Episode 79: DOWNLINK--Hugh Blair-Smith

Oct 12, 2016 01:08:52


Hugh Blair-Smith helped develop the Apollo Guidance Computer, the software it ran, and the program that assembled that software. Also, Stratolaunch finds a launch buddy, New Shepard leaves its launch buddy and Matthew tries to expose some launch buddies.

Episode 78: DOWNLINK--Andrea Boyd and Kathleen Coderre

Oct 5, 2016 01:15:37


We talk to Andrea Boyd of ESA and Kathleen Coderre of NASA's Orion project. Also SpaceX reveals ITS, Kate Rubins peaks inside BEAM and Firefly might be done for.

Episode 77: COPV Troubles

Sep 28, 2016 00:32:05


We learn a bit about the delayed Soyuz launch, as well as the proximal cause of the Amos-6 explosion.


Sep 21, 2016 01:10:58


JMARS is a geological information system that started on the Red Planet and has since moved to encompass other bodies. It's used internationally by mission planners, scientists and others. Also, MCT announcement is coming up and New Glenn was revealed!

Episode 75: DOWNLINK--Dr. Marc Rayman

Sep 14, 2016 01:28:43


The Dawn spacecraft has set all kinds of records, and is a marvelously well designed vehicle. We got to have a nice long chat with Dr. Marc Rayman, the chief engineer. Also, we have a short AMOS-6 followup.

Episode 74: DOWNLINK--Dr. Bruce Betts

Sep 7, 2016 01:22:44


We pair up with Spacepod to talk about the upcoming Lightsail-2 mission with Dr. Bruce Betts. Also, AMOS-6 now looks like a bundle of Christmas lights, and Gaofen-10 isn't looking much better.

Episode 73: STEREO vision

Aug 31, 2016 00:34:39


STEREO-B may well be recoverable, China's 2020 Mars rover, and lots of good corrections from a NASA ADCO.

Episode 72: DOWNLINK--Copenhagen Suborbitals

Aug 24, 2016 01:13:19


You know Copenhagen Suborbitals, right? We talk to Mads Wilson about the Nexø successful failure. Also, a Crew Dragon parachute drop test, a successful EVA and the important difference between delta V and propellant mass fraction.

Episode 71: Rabbits and Raptors and Swans

Aug 17, 2016 00:34:54


Yutu might one day be useful again, a Raptor engine is ready for testing, and Cygnus' RTF gets delayed.

Episode 70: SCE to AUX

Aug 10, 2016 00:45:58


MUOS V gets left in the parking lot, Tethers Unlimited sells some water rockets, John Aaron is a steely-eyed missile man, and we apologize to Dreamchaser's skid.

Episode 69: DOWNLINK--Alessondra Springmann

Aug 3, 2016 01:14:06


Alessondra Springmann is a graduate student that helped prepare for Osiris-Rex' upcoming mission, and she just got a chance to see it in person! Also, Lego NASA heroes, a Commercial Crew update, Copenhagen Suborbitals, Dream Chaser and some static burns!

Episode 68: DOWNLINK--Firefly Space Systems II

Jul 27, 2016 01:12:17


Copenhagen Suborbital stays solidly suborbital, Astro-H might get a replacement, and SSL works on a GSO servicing bot.

Episode 67: DOWNLINK--Dave Huntsman

Jul 20, 2016 01:23:05


We prepare for another Falcon 9 RTLS landing by talking to Dave Huntsman, a flight controller for Skylab and commercial space proponent. This is not an interview you want to miss!

Episode 66: Juneau

Jul 13, 2016 00:32:37


Juno gets to Jupiter and Curiosity goes into safe mode.

Episode 65: Immobilis Lucem

Jul 6, 2016 00:47:22


Progress tests an updated docking computer, Dawn won't leave Ceres and Blue Origin begins construction.

Episode 64: Port Tariff

Jun 29, 2016 00:45:51


Orion gets hit with another delay, SpaceX gets hit with an exorbitant fee, and ESA gets hit with... well, you know.

Episode 63: Old Shepard, New Webcast

Jun 22, 2016 00:59:44


The Saffire experiment publishes video quickly, Blue Origin lets us peek in on their most recent experiment and boy does Ben get fired up about SpaceX conspiracy theories.

Episode 62: DOWNLINK--Dan Leone

Jun 15, 2016 01:12:23


Orbital ATK readies another launch vehicle, Dextre is big, and Dan Leone really knows how to use a quaint old tool called "reporting."

Episode 61: Leaning Tower of Thaicom

Jun 8, 2016 00:54:31


Ben stumps everyone for a second week in This Week in Spaceflight History. More info on SpaceX' most recent ASDS landing, More info on ASTRO-H, and Antares returns to the ring.

Episode 60: Popcorn in a Four-Square Ball

Jun 1, 2016 00:49:15


BEAM looks beautiful, live landing footage from SpaceX and oh, those damned squirrels. Also: book club!

Episode 59: Fastest Fireworks

May 25, 2016 00:51:33


Orbital fireworks, an asteroid visit approaches, a Mars orbital science station and a re-flyable F9 first stage.

Episode 58: Golly Gee Whiz What Happened?

May 18, 2016 00:44:36


OTV-4 remains strange and mysterious, ISS is attacked by a rogue, malevolent paint chip, and we take a trip back in history to talk about Skylab 2

Episode 57: DOWNLINK--Doug Litteken

May 11, 2016 01:07:58


Doug Litteken is a NASA engineer who is helping to design lightweight constructions. What did we get wrong about BEAM? Let's find out! Also it's another week full of SpaceX news.

Episode 56: Cerise Lizard?

May 4, 2016 00:56:11


It's a nearly SPX-exclusive week. We had big news announced: Red Dragon is going to Mars and Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket on the planet.

Episode 55: DOWNLINK--PSAS

Apr 27, 2016 01:16:51


A group of students and citizens has their eye on a homebrew LEO ascent vehicle. We also talk to the developer of FlightClub.io, and perform some fantastic correction burns.

Episode 54: Centripetal "Explosion"

Apr 19, 2016 00:46:49


Bigelow has big plans, Rocketlab has a tiny rocket, and Hitomi is covering a larger volume than previously.

Episode 53: DOWNLINK--Lunar Lion

Apr 13, 2016 01:22:10


The Lunar Lion team arose from the Google Lunar XPrize, and is a group of students headed for the Moon! Also Breeze-M's fate is less clear now than ever, and SpaceX did a thing!

Episode 52: The Substitute

Apr 6, 2016 00:51:53


Ben is away but John Leeman of the Don't Panic Geocast fills in. We discuss "green" propellent, New Shepard's third flight, and Justin Cowart also pops in to explain ASTRO-H.

Episode 51: DOWNLINK--Jonathan Goff

Mar 30, 2016 01:26:47


Jon Goff is a space entrepreneur, space writer and rocket engineer. He's worked for new space companies and even founded one of his own. Also, Atlas strong and Breeze-M explode.

Episode 50: Arbitrary Milestone Ahoy!

Mar 23, 2016 00:40:17


We're looking forward to CRS-8, we learned a bit more about Kopra's helmetwater and we refuse to cover SAFFIRE (yet!)

Episode 49: Go For T-shirts

Mar 15, 2016 00:43:38


InSight is going to mars! Also, Aerojet Rocketdyne tests a new injector, BE-4 takes a trial run, and Soyuz goes squirrelly.

Episode 48: Mo' Density, Mo' Problems

Mar 8, 2016 00:40:56


SES-9 finally gets off the ground, and we talk with Ben Brockert about what took so long.

Episode 47: DOWNLINK--Mason Hall

Mar 1, 2016 01:16:22


Mason Hall works at Marshall Space Flight Center, and helps manage all of the payload data that comes down from ISS. We learned a heck of a lot during this interview.

Episode 46: 80% done, 80% left to go.

Feb 23, 2016 00:39:06


A new SpaceShipTwo pokes her head out, Starliner takes a dip, Rocketlab finds a big customer and a record breaking eighteen thousand people want to be astronauts this year!

Episode 45: DOWNLINK--Ben Honey

Feb 16, 2016 01:15:01


We talk to NASA ADCO Ben Honey about how to fly ISS. Also Dragon CRS-8 is delayed, Cygnus OA-6 is delayed and InSight might be canceled... due to delays.

Episode 44: Bright Star 4

Feb 9, 2016 00:47:59


BEAM is headed to ISS! Also, a friend of the show makes it on to APOD, Gwynne Shotwell talks about the near future of SpaceX, NASA talks about the recent history of CRS-2, and North Korea brings us one step closer to WW3.

Episode 43: Challenger's 30th Sadiversary

Feb 2, 2016 00:39:16


This week, we bring in a quick guest: Jayce Pearson of Challenger Center to talk about one of the very good things that arose from the Challenger disaster 30 years ago.

Episode 42: Where's Your Towel?

Jan 26, 2016 00:38:47


It’s experimental technology week in the news, it seems! Dragonfly video, LISA Pathfinder, Dreamchaser and New Shepard are all discussed.

Episode 41: Downlink--Jenny on Console

Jan 19, 2016 01:27:32


We talk to the fantastic Jenny On Console of YouTube fame. She’s working her way towards becoming an ISS Flight Controller and a super space geek. In the news: an update on the OG2 first stage, an all-hands meeting at SLS, military rocket engine contracts, giving Phobos a kiss and SpaceX lands on a barge the biggest chunk of a rocket EVER LANDED ON A BARGE.

Episode 40: How Cold Is Space?

Jan 12, 2016 00:46:45


It’s a short week, but we’ve got good news! We’re announcing our first listener contest. Also an upcoming SPX drone ship landing, and reviving Salyut 7.

Episode 39: Return to Flight, Return to Broadcasting

Jan 5, 2016 52:59


Did you watch the SpaceX Return to Flight launch? We sure did. Also, a Mars lander sticks to Terra Firma, and a planned fix for that ISS power outage.

Episode 38: Doldrums 2015, pt. 2

Dec 23, 2015 55:41


Congress hands NASA a veritable duffle bag of cash, Soyuz makes darn sure everyone is awake, and CETA cart throws a fit.

Episode 37: Doldrums 2015, pt. 1

Dec 15, 2015 00:49:40


We’re entering the Holiday Space Doldrums, but we’re joined by Connor West for some excitement he experienced this week.


Dec 8, 2015 00:44:19


Get hyped for F9 RTLS! Also, cheap telecoms sats, LauncherOne picks up a new team member, Energia names their new crew vehicle and Sean Reed talks about his new picturebook!

Episode 35: DOWNLINK--Dr. Paul McNamera

Dec 1, 2015 01:02:30


We talk to Dr. Paul McNamera about the upcoming LISA Pathfinder mission. Why are two floating cubes important to the biggest laser interferometer we've ever built?

Episode 34: DOWNLINK--Tim Dodd

Nov 24, 2015 01:11:49


We have a wonderful chat with photographer Tim Dodd, who has photographed a handful of launches for Spaceflight Now. Quite a nerd fest, this interview.

Episode 33: Low Voltage

Nov 17, 2015 00:35:24


In this week’s short show, we talk about the Deke Slayton II, a power failure on ISS and the F9 RTF.

Episode 32: Not-So-Super Strypi

Nov 10, 2015 00:32:51


It’s a slow news week in space. Super Strypi bites the dust, there’s a new 3D printed combustion chamber and more talk about Stratolaunch.

Episode 31: DOWNLINK--Alan Carey

Nov 3, 2015 01:17:39


We talk to Alan Carey, listener of the show and space suit mechanism designer. Also, a crewed spy satellite, a fast ride to space slows down, and what the heck happened to Antares?

Episode 30: Satellites Following Submarines

Oct 27, 2015 00:39:41


This week on the show, we talk more about an aggressive satellite, SpaceX’s new test platform, SLS’s new paint job and China’s new space station.

Episode 29: Space Weapons

Oct 20, 2015 01:06:50


This week, David and Connor talk about orbital weapons throughout history from Starfish Prime to Soviet laser pistols. Also, rubber fuels, mini-sat launchers, F9 RTF, and Y2K hits Mars.

Episode 28: Life After The Martian

Oct 13, 2015 35:48


More info on the Discovery downselect, a quick discussion of the orbital mechanics in The Martian, hopes for Dream Chaser and odd behavior from a Russian satellite.

Episode 27: Kronocentric

Oct 6, 2015 00:30:37


This week, we talk about HTV-5’s departure, the Discovery mission downselect, Jupiter/Exoliner, and 100 successful launches from ULA.

Episode 26: Grok It

Sep 29, 2015 00:36:04


Lots of ULA, Orbital ATK and Aerojet news this week.

Episode 25: DOWNLINK--Logan Kennedy

Sep 22, 2015 01:11:23


This week, we get to have a chat with NASA GN&C engineer Logan Kennedy. We covered a lot of topics, from SSMEs to Mighty Eagle and SLS.

Episode 24: So Many Guests

Sep 15, 2015 00:43:40


A quick Falcon update, progress from Firefly, big hopes from SLS, and a group of space nerds who are working on STEM outreach.

Episode 23: DOWNLINK--Justin Cowart

Sep 8, 2015 50:41


Lots of SpaceX talk this week as they prepare to return to flight… eventually. We also discuss SMAP’s name getting shorter, and CST-100’s getting longer.

Episode 22: White Stork Mystery

Sep 1, 2015 00:29:07


Saturn I was the first big step towards the moon, and this week in 1958 the design was begun. Also, a 3D printed turbo, another Chinese engine destroys a house, we get a good look at an ASDS, and we have a White Stork mystery.

Episode 21: GPIM's, HTV's and MKRS's

Aug 25, 2015 00:36:56


HTV-5 heads uphill, a green fuel gets a green light, a rumor about an earlier than expected SpaceX return to flight, and an even crazier rumor about Russian reusability!

Episode 20: Bi-Dec-Episodial

Aug 18, 2015 00:33:02


VASMIR contract extended, space crops and a Walloping big engine.

Episode 19: Shot of Tequila

Aug 11, 2015 00:47:16


In our first weekly episode, we have a big announcement! 55 years later, we’re still safely bringing things back from space. Also, a contract extension from NASA, a spaceplane from DARPA, and an impressive recovery from JAXA!

Episode 18: DOWNLINK -- Astro Pi

Aug 4, 2015 01:16:46


There are lots of consumer products on the space station. In this show, we interview the creators of a brand new one: the Astro Pi! They’ll be sending student-written programs to Station on a small computer. Also, CRS-7 gets explained, SETI picks up a bundle, Intelsat gets grumpy, a solar panel needs a swift kick, SABRE secrets get revealed, NTSB releases their report on a fatal crash, and a big announcement about the show!

Episode 17: Agena Watches

Jul 21, 2015 01:22:11


Back in the days before we could take digital photos and encrypt them, we had to figure out another way of transmitting home imagery that no one else could see. The Corona program did just that. Also, Commercial astronaut selection, New Horizons, a NASA budget proposal, STEMBox and an evacuation on Station.

Episode 16: Mishaps

Jul 7, 2015 00:54:25


Staying put in a particular orbit requires constant adjustments. Let’s talk about some of the basic things you can do to be where you want to be in space. Also an Falcon 9 explosion, the largest commercial launch in history, an impending SpaceX mars announcement, and New Horizons encounters a last-minute speedbump.

Episode 15: DOWNLINK--Firefly Space Systems

Jun 23, 2015 01:24:17


Firefly Space Systems wants to build an innovative launch vehicle and send small payloads to orbit for an incredibly low price. We talk to four of their engineers about everything from their aerospike engine to fuel tank construction. Also LDSD could use a third try, Philae needs a cup of coffee, New Horizons doesn’t need a blanket and SES goes to the thrift store.

Episode 14: Fuel Up!

Jun 9, 2015 01:19:13


There are plenty of liquid rocket fuels to choose from, all with pros and cons. We talk about which is best in what situation, and why that choice is more difficult than it might seem. Also, criminal charges, the return of RS-25, LightSail, SpaceX’s internet satellites, and the new Adeline reusability hardware.

Episode 13: DOWNLINK--Steve Pestana

May 26, 2015 1:04:31


We sit down and talk with the other “silent” member of the show, research assistant Steve Pestana. Also, Proton failure, reboost failure, show host failures and ISS orbital parameters.

Episode 12: Shields Up

May 12, 2015 01:37:11


Arguably the most testing environment a spacecraft can experience is atmospheric reentry. Let’s take a look at historical solutions that allowed us to get humans in space safely back to the ground. Also a failed Progress mission, a successful New Shepard de-undisclosement, SMART reuse, CE20 and the Dragon 2 pad abort.

Episode 11: DOWNLINK--Connor West

Apr 28, 2015 01:32:40


It's our first interview episode! Let's get to know one of our research assistants better. Also: Blue Origin, Vulcan, Barge landings, Rocketlab's Rutherford engine and the completed D2 in-flight abort assembly.

Episode 10: LIVE-ish

Apr 14, 2015 01:06:23


Single Stage to Orbit has long been a fantasy confined to tales of fiction. What would it take to actually build and operate such a machine? Also VASMIR flies, Canadian eyes, and MESSENGER dies. This show was recorded live. Visit theorbitalmechanics.com/show-notes/SSTO to watch the unedited video.

Episode 9: Radiation

Mar 31, 2015 1:16:23


The big barrier to people in space is radiation. There are different sources, different types and a couple of good ways to protect ourselves. Also: Opportunity in peril, SpaceX fairings, public domain space photos, Gwynne Shotwell testifies, He bottles, Dreamchaser again, and Mangalyaan. This episode is sponsored by Smarter Every Day.

Episode 8: Breathe

Mar 17, 2015 01:24:15


Everyone knows you have to take your own air to space, assuming you’d like to continue breathing. Let’s take some time to talk about common atmosphere choices in space. Also Curiosity’s short, Orbital ATK’s giant solid rocket, Jupiter (not the planet), Tory Bruno and radioactive material!

Episode 7: Suit Up

Mar 3, 2015 1:15:02


The difficulty of survival in the near vacuum of low Earth orbit is a fear deep in our society’s psyche. However, it’s a working environment for many brave men and women, and isn’t as bad as many people think. This week, we talk about the smallest human spaceships ever invented: space suits. Also this week: Mars One, Smarter Every Day, the end of F9R Dev, enhanced F9, a ton of EVAs and some of Ben’s worst mixups ever.

Episode 6: Manipulators

Feb 17, 2015


Sometimes, human hands just aren't practical or available. Let's talk about robot arms of all shapes and sizes! Also DSCOVR, Martian budget cuts, senators calling out ULA, the upcoming US ISS EVAs, and an amazing video from Marshall Space Flight Center!

Episode 5: Acronyms

Feb 4, 2015 01:39:15


How do you talk to a satellite whizzing by at eight or nine km/s? It's not easy to do without the help of high-orbit communications satellites like the TDRS network we talked about last week. In this show, we're covering NASA's early ground-based communications networks in all their impressive landline glory. Also, the CCtCap decision, satellite internet, Iain M Banks references, Falcon Heavy, Moon Express and much more.

Episode 4: LATE

Jan 21, 2015 1:11:46


We spent the 60s, 70s and 80s communicating with satellites only when they passed overhead of radio outposts. Today, we have a much better solution: the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite system. Also, AMA highlights, CRS-5, James Webb and a possible NH3 leak on ISS.

Episode 3: Heat

Jan 6, 2015 00:59:58


Rocket engines are contained explosions with pressures large enough to lift a rocket to the moon and temperatures higher than the melting point of the metal comprising the engine. Let’s talk about how we manage to pull that off. Also, Messanger, Dawn, Curiosity and periareion.

Episode 2: Maneuvers

Dec 23, 2014 01:13:15


So you're in orbit. What do you do next? There are plenty of different techniques for getting to another planet, rendezvousing with another spacecraft and getting back down to the ground. Also Morpheus, Opportunity, Antares, and Hyabusa II (again).

Episode 1: Docking

Dec 11, 2014 01:08:23


Connecting two living spaces is a very challenging task. It’s easy enough to grab onto something in space with a clasping hand or twisted tethers around a knobbed pin, but how the heck do you secure two hollow structures? Any docking or berthing mechanism must have plenty of room right in the middle for crew and cargo. That’s a tall order. Also, Hayabusa II, EFT-1, Ariane 6, Venus Express and New Horizons!