This Week in Space 103 Transcript

Please be advised this transcript is AI-generated and may not be word for word. Time codes refer to the approximate times in the ad-supported version of the show.

00:00 - Rod Pyle (Host)
On this episode of this Week in Space, spacecom reporter extraordinaire Mike Wall joins us to discuss the recent test flight of SpaceX's Starship. This episode of this Week in Space is brought to you by Zscaler, the leader in cloud security Cyber attackers using AI in creative ways to compromise users and breach organizations. In a security landscape where you must fight AI with AI, the best AI protection comes from having the best data. Zscaler has extended its Zero Trust architecture with powerful AI engines that are trained and tuned by 500 trillion daily signals. You can learn more about Zscaler Zero Trust plus AI to prevent ransomware and AI attacks. Experience your world secured. Visit zscalercom. Slash zero trust AI 

00:54 - TWiT
Podcasts you love. From people you trust. This is Twit.

00:56 - Rod Pyle (Host)
This is this Week in Space, episode number 103, recorded on March 22nd 2024, starship's Orbital Feet. This episode of this Week in Space is brought to you by Wix Studio. Hey, instead of reading you another let's be honest boring ad script, wix Studio just sent me this wild looking website to scroll through and tell you about. So let's do that. I'm already excited because it's space themed. I wonder if they made this just for us. I think so.

All right, let's see what this scrolly telling is all about. There's an astronaut falling through clouds. Now two planets are crashing into each other and this text is popping up as I scroll and it's telling me about the search for other species. And hey, now we're talking. We got a spaceship. This is amazing. I feel like I'm in space. Finally, it's wild how you could do all this without code. That's the cool part. So now it's your turn to lift off. You can build your next web projects on Wix Studio, the platform for agencies and enterprises. Go to wixcom slash studio or click on the link on the show page to find out more. Hello and welcome to this Week in Space, the Starship's Orbital Feet edition. I'm Rod Pyle, editor-in-chief Van Astor magazine, and I'm here, as always, with the one and only no eye adjective today Park Malick, editor-in-chief of spacecom. Hello, dear sir.

02:21 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Hello Rod. Should we point out that we mean orbital feet F-E-A-T and that we're not weirdos?

02:27 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I thought of that right as I was saying it. But more importantly, we are joined by the incredible Michael Wall of spacecom, the Jimmy Olson of spacecom. Hi, mike, dr Michael.

02:40 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Wall. Hey, mike. Yeah, I think I'm a little too old to be a Jimmy Olson, but I do appreciate it.

02:46 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Thanks, Hi guys Well but you're a doc and that's pretty cool. What was your PhD in? Phd evolutionary?

02:52 - Mike Wall (Guest)

02:54 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And how did you end up with spacecom?

02:57 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I guess we're going to find out.

02:58 - Mike Wall (Guest)
That's a long story.

02:59 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Okay, but it's probably a good one. I've always admired people with PhDs, although I find you a little intimidating. But before we start, cue the groans, I have a space joke. Actually, this one's not too bad. No, yeah, I'm ready for it. Oh, from loyal listener Scott Ulrich, are you ready? Are you sure you're ready? Yeah, yeah, okay, really bad, okay. Why was Elon Musk afraid to divorce his Martian wife?

03:26 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Okay, this is very on point for today. Why, why?

03:29 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Rod, because his first SpaceX was way too expensive. That's a loony tune moment.

03:39 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I like that one actually.

03:40 - Rod Pyle (Host)
That's clever. I just left it for one today, because that was pretty good.

03:44 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, that's a good one.

03:47 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Okay, yeah, so, so very good. So I just want to remind everybody, before we move on to our next step with headlines here, please do us a solid and like, subscribe and all those podcast things, because we need your support so we can keep coming here doing this, because what more would you want to do with your hour than sit and hang out with the three of us? Yeah, and and special announcement and Tarek's fixed chair. I fixed it. I have had so much material torn from my poor little aging brain this week because he fixed that darn chair. I got wheels I made no longer make. Okay, tell us your story.

04:31 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And then off we go. Everybody knows that I've had this chair from like work, from my work, from like pre-COVID, my Star Trek chair.

04:38 - Mike Wall (Guest)
It's blue and black.

04:40 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And it's a gaming chair, and about two years ago the wheels started falling off and then I've had it up on like, but then you started falling off. And then I started falling off during during the recording of this show, which was really embarrassing, and I've had it up on blocks specifically like the remnants of these, these wooden boards that that we would break for Taekwondo, Like it's just been sitting on top of the those broken boards for the last like two years and you just had to get macho on me, didn't you?

05:10 - Rod Pyle (Host)
The boards that I personally smashed with my forehead?

05:13 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I can break three boards in a row with my foot, so but I finally bought replacement, a whole replacement base, all the parts for it. It took one hammer and that was it some gravity. And I got the chair fixed. So now I can move around, I can have good posture, it's ergonomic and I can play my video games.

05:32 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So I'm pretty happy about it Most importantly, and were the boards bloody? I mean, are they like trophy boards or just broken boards?

05:39 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, they're not bloody. I mean, I broke them with my feet, if that's what you mean.

05:44 - Rod Pyle (Host)
They were just half movies. There's always blood flying around when he was doing that.

05:49 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, you don't. You're not doing it right If you cut your foot open.

05:55 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, if you do it right, it's not supposed to hurt Okay Over, you shouldn't break anything, so all right. So that was thrilling and gratifying to hear. All right, so on the lines.

06:08 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I didn't even need Scotty's help so to fix my start the first two are from spacecom.

06:12 - Rod Pyle (Host)
We got a Soyuz rocket aborting during the ISS launch, which is a very unusual thing. We've seen it twice before.

06:21 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, we've had a few boards like this week, but we've had two in-flight aborts.

06:26 - Rod Pyle (Host)
This one had abort right.

06:27 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, and this. This was a pad abort, where they aborted before, before liftoff itself. But still rare, still rare. The Soyuz is the workhorse rocket for Russia and Roscosmos. It had an American, tracy Caldwell-Dyson on it and Russian, oleg Novitsky. What are the? I guess he's going to have the most flying time ever cumulative of anyone in space, according to NASA, after the end of this mission. And then a newcomer and I want to make sure I pronounce her name right Marina Vasilevskaya, and she is a spaceflight participant from Belarus flying on a 12 day mission for this.

The other two are going up up there for six months and they were all in their rocket waiting for liftoff and they got down to about the 22nd mark on this one this is, of course, that bike in your Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and something happened. What they think happened is that it triggered an automatic abort, which means the rocket didn't take off, and what Russian engineers think happened is that they have a power issue in the booster itself. Nasa said today in a press conference that it was a low power, a low voltage detection in a power system on the booster, and they don't know if it's a quick fix or not, because they're still targeting like another launch try tomorrow, as we're recording this. But whether or not they actually try for that or they need more time to fix it, we'll have to wait and see. But real busy time for the space station for this to be happening, they need these flights to go kind of regularly because they've got a lot of visiting vehicles flying. Spacex has, of course, their crew seven astronauts that have to return home from the space station after this crew gets there, and then after that there's another crewed flight in May that we're going to talk about in a little bit, with Boeing's first Starliner mission.

So, and SpaceX right now has a cargo ship that's going to dock tomorrow, as we're recording this episode that just launched on the same day as this abort. Like six hours later, seven hours later, they launched a SpaceX cargo ship from Florida to get there too. So we're just trying to wait and see what happened. But thankfully, tracy Caldwell-Dyson, oleg Novitski, marina Vasilyevna Veselyevsky they were safe the whole time Like nothing happened while they were up there with a fully fueled but aborted rocket, and they were able to disembark after they defueled it and kind of go about their day and prepare for flight. So we're waiting right now I expect, as we're recording this, it's a Friday. I expect some kind of an update at like 6pm to come out of the NASA machine to say no or yes. So Mike knows what's more than we do.

09:10 - Mike Wall (Guest)
So yeah, they actually already gave an update. They are they're clear to actually launch tomorrow morning, Saturday morning, at 8.30, at like 8.36am. So like whatever that problem was, they got it fixed pretty fast and now they're just so.

09:24 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Vladimir got down there with his sledgehammer and whacked a few things.

09:28 - Tariq Malik (Host)
They plugged in the extension cord, so this rocket.

09:32 - Rod Pyle (Host)
just before we move on, since we've got Mike here who knows everything that we don't, which is quite a lot actually this rocket's been I mean, there have been incremental improvements, but basically they designed dates back to, I think, first flown in 1965, right, yeah, it's Rocket and the crew capsule.

09:49 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah, both of them. They've been flying in the same basic configuration for like many decades now Forever, yeah, yeah. So what about?

09:58 - Rod Pyle (Host)
as I recall, there was going to be a replacement called Angara, I think. Did that get mothballed?

10:04 - Mike Wall (Guest)
No, it's still in development. We shall see. There are occasional updates about it and Slower than SLS, if that's possible. Yeah. Yeah, we're still waiting to hear when that might get up and running, but yeah, I mean.

10:17 - Tariq Malik (Host)
There was a test launch of the Angara rocket. Was there not some kind of prototype? No, ah, let me, maybe not. I have a half memory of it.

10:25 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I could be wrong about that Maybe they're growing it like a stalagmite or something.

10:29 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I should point out that we did some research and there was the in-flight abort with Nick Hague and a cosmonaut in 2018, or 2018, I believe. And then there was another in-flight abort in the earlier days of the Soyuz program. There was a pad abort, according to Robert Perlman, at Colex Base in 2018, of a Progress vehicle on a Soyuz rocket. No crew on that, one Right, but those were the ones that we could find in recent memory. So Pretty darn reliable. Yeah, pretty rare to see this thing happen at the last second like this.

11:02 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So Very reliable for something running on vacuum tubes. All right, also from spacecom. As I said, one must chuckle before reading. Owing says Starliner is ready for its big crew test. What's?

11:17 - Tariq Malik (Host)

11:17 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Starliner, Uncle Tarek tell me.

11:20 - Tariq Malik (Host)

11:21 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Do they?

11:22 - Tariq Malik (Host)
fly in space. No, as we have discussed a few times in the past, boeing is building Well back in 2014. So this is 10 years ago now. 10 years ago, nasa picked Boeing and SpaceX as its commercial crew providers the companies that we're going to build private spaceships and launch astronauts to Mars for you know, I guess, a fraction of what it would cost for NASA to build and its own fleet of spacecraft. Boeing got $4.2 billion under that contract. It was like that's like the max amount they're supposed to get and the initial flights, and SpaceX got $2.6 billion.

Since then, spacex has launched like 11 times for NASA and Boeing for astronauts, and Boeing has not been able to get its astronauts up in space. In fact, two years ago 2022, was when they launched their second uncrewed test flight to make up for the first one in 2019 that didn't make it to the space station. Now, that second one did work all right, but in 2023, they found out that it had like hundreds of feet, or actually more than a mile at least, of flammable tape inside, and then also it had parachute problems, where they weren't rated to handle an off nominal parachute load, which required a redesign. And so now, after all that work's done, they say that they're finally ready to go. They have said no earlier than May 1st, so they actually said a day that was today actually, as we're recording that they're going to target that day launch on an Atlas V from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The Atlas V is undergoing integration right now. They've fueled the Starliner for launch. That's a big step right there, because once they fuel, the actual capsule.

13:02 - Rod Pyle (Host)
when you say fuel, you talk about navigate, maneuvering, yeah, all of the stuff that it's going to need to use once it's in space, not the rocket, this is just the space capsule.

13:12 - Tariq Malik (Host)
This is a test of the valves, which would be the challenge.

That's right. Well, and they will be fixing those valves for Starliner 1, not for this mission but, I believe, for Starliner 1, they're going to have those fixed. If memory serves, it could be the second one, but they're building Starliner 1 now, which is the operational flight they hope to get if this mission goes well. And of course, this has Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore on board, who have been training for this flight for a very long time. In fact, this flight's been so delayed that International Space Astronaut or Space Station Astronaut, Jeanette Epps, who was originally supposed to fly on this one or partying on a Starliner operational flight, flew on a SpaceX mission and is already on the station now.

13:55 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So Well, the other guy, what was his name?

13:59 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Sorry, he's a Mike Fink. Mike Fink was on this test flight.

14:02 - Rod Pyle (Host)
No, there's another one that had been with them for easily over a decade, who said, look, I got to retire before this thing flies.

14:10 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, that was the former astronaut Chris. Oh my gosh. Yeah, I know I'm really.

14:17 - Rod Pyle (Host)
We're both having Cedermal at the same time.

14:22 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Who actually was the lead Boeing astronaut for developing this one, and he did it and ended up retiring. Yeah, I know you put so much work into the mission and there you go, but it seems like everything is set. The Steve Stitch at NASA said today that they are really confident that they've ironed out all of the issues. Mark Nappy, Starliner program manager, said that they feel like they have addressed all of the issues that they know about Big tests on this one.

You know the first crew on board. You want the Eclas systems, the life support systems, to go correctly. They're going to try some manual flight modes, they're going to do docking, they're going to do undocking, cargo moving back and forth. Lots of big, big stuff for this flight. So it'd be very interesting to see it and we hope it goes off without a hitch because they're on the hook to fly at least six of these at least six, and that's the NASA contract. Whether or not they opt to extend Starliner's life for commercial crew, like SpaceX has for Dragon flying private missions and tourist flights, we don't know. We don't know. At this point it doesn't seem like they have any plans yet beyond NASA's needs for this one.

15:32 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Apparently, it's hard to build space capsules. Yeah, very, very much Even if you've worked on rockets since 1950X. All snarkiness aside, I mean we wish them lots of luck. It's just been so frustrating to watch them get this almost double the award of SpaceX and then fumble the ball so many times. But there you go. Okay, last one from Space News Chandra on ice Love that. Yeah.

16:01 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, this is just a quick update. The NASA budget did come out at least their budget request Recently I think last week, if memory serves and there was not. I mean, there's a lot of hemming and hawing and hand wringing by NASA chief Bill Nelson and others because there were some cuts, some painful cuts in this one, and one of the biggest is a plan to basically start winding down the Chandra X-ray space telescope. And this is a space telescope that's been kind of the X-ray version of Hubble for a good long time since its launch and basically it's going down to from, I guess, a current budget, so it receives about $68.3 million in 2023. It's going to get cut by 40% down to $41 million in this request for 2025. And then more cuts in 2026. And then eventually it will just be like $5 million a year in 2029. And that's basically like let's shut it down mode at that point in time, analyzing data, making sure that it's safe and whatnot.

And the rationale for this is because they're saying that there's been a reduction in Chandra's capabilities over time to the point that it makes it not worth the investment.

That, say, upgrading Hubble, which was built to be upgraded with new instruments over time, and keeping that alive warrants. So scientists are really upset about this because it means that they're going to have to plan to wind it down, which they can't take on new science with it. The science that they're doing now has a shelf life, or an end date, if you will, where they have to stop that so they can start the winding down process. And a lot of folks think that there's just a lot more science that they could do, and we've seen evidence of this in the past. When the Spitzer Space Telescope ran out of coolant to keep it cold to the standards that NASA needed for infrared astronomy, they did kind of turn it over to Caltech right, your old kind of stomping ground and they ran it for a while doing other science that they could ring out of that space telescope for a while. Well then, look at Kepler.

18:24 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Exactly, that thing was a wreck and they said wait a minute, we can re-aim it, I think, using solar wind pressure right.

18:30 - Tariq Malik (Host)
They did all sorts of stuff and it became a mission which went on for years and years.

And argue, or Neowinds too, after it ran out of coolant to keep it so cold for the wise asteroid, when they found all sorts of Neuroth asteroids and whatnot too. We'll see. You know, this is a budget request and we've seen I mean you and I have seen Rod these types of proposed cuts over time, and then they ended up not going through. There were plans to cut spirit and opportunity while they were still alive on Mars, so that they could save up some money for other things, and they chose not to do that Forget New Horizons.

19:05 - Rod Pyle (Host)
That's right.

19:05 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And why would you want?

19:07 - Rod Pyle (Host)
to bother to keep talking to a spacecraft that was beyond the edge of the solar system. That was really weird.

19:14 - Tariq Malik (Host)
That's right. All right, so we'll see how it all goes. But basically we're just keep Chandra in your thoughts, everybody, and let's see where this budget request actually lands.

19:24 - Rod Pyle (Host)
All right. Well, I would love to continue the excitement, but we have an important man waiting here, so let's go to a quick snicker, listen to that, let's go to a quick ad break and we'll be right back. Go nowhere. So, mike, it's very good to see you. I think the last time I actually saw you, a person was up in the gallery at the high bay at JPL, wasn't it? Yeah?

19:44 - Mike Wall (Guest)
do you remember what that was, for what mission that was? Was that perseverance? I think it was perseverance. Yeah, that seems like it must have been, because we interviewed that guy and Ken Farley Ken.

19:56 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Farley, thank you. Yeah, wait, tariq and I are gonna need to start taking our brain focus.

20:06 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Like was the bow? It was was a Starliner guy Chris Ferguson, that's name.

20:09 - Rod Pyle (Host)
That pop yeah, yeah yeah, yeah, tariq didn't finally get that. One Get there in the end. He always gets there eventually. So let's talk about you, mike. You've been at space calm, not as long as Tariq, but but long enough to watch the Moscow and Wow. I'm exciting you're kind of like the I forget your exact title, but you're the senior. You're the senior reporter there now, right?

20:36 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Well, I guess, in terms of service time, I've been there since 2010. So yeah, I've seen a lot of change over that time in the the spaceflight world. It's just it's kind of blown up. I mean, like I remember when I started, there were it like the industry was pretty much being covered by some trade Publications and a few dedicated websites, and now it's just totally mainstream. You know, new York Times has a dedicated space reporter and most of the big magazines do, and stuff like that. So it's just it's gotten, it's changed so much and in the time that I've been there, and blogs and YouTube.

21:11 - Rod Pyle (Host)
The big magazines we were discussing before we came on the air. There are precious few of them.

21:15 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah, yeah, no, that's, that's another thing.

21:18 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So so you're kind of interesting to me. Well, you're very interesting to me, but but in particular because Guys like Tariq and myself were interested in space and instant science and it's a technology and then started going that path and said, hey, this math stuff is really hard, huh, maybe I'll be a writer. And then, of course, tariq was was strongly encouraged by his journalism teacher said what did he say? It's the worst thing I've ever seen, or something. Oh yeah.

21:47 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, he told me that in every class there was that student that had no talent whatsoever.

21:53 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But he told him that after he realized that he had all the talent. So that was kind of cool. But in stark contrast, here comes Mike wall With a PhD who says well, I'd really rather write about this stuff to do the research that you're gonna pay me Half a million dollars a year to do, plus shares of the company or whatever your trajectory was. Can you tell us how that came about?

22:14 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Well, I don't know, I just I'd always been of two minds.

You know, I, like it, always loved writing too and I yeah, yeah, I mean went to like undergrad. I also majored in like history, like as well as, as well as the whole biology thing we were talking about, and so I was always conflicted and I did the biology thing for a while and I decided that I didn't necessarily want to go into academia because I had friends doing it and it was just it didn't seem like they were having all that much fun and and I wanted to write and I didn't want to be get to kind of like grey beard days and I'm entering now and be like, oh, I really wish I would have tried that writing thing. So I went and did, did a science journalism course at UC Santa Cruz and I Initially thought I'd be writing about biology and kind of life sciences stuff and like, in fact, I like originally applied for a job that at live science when it's based on come sister sites. But I think Tariq reached out and said actually we've got a greater need at spacecom, would you consider writing about space? I'm like, yeah, sure, I like took an astronomy class in college, um, at the University of Arizona.

So sure I think it was Rob Britt right, rob Britt at the time.

Yeah, yeah, right, yeah, rob, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And so yeah, I mean, and it's not like I had no interest in astronomy, I was interested in it but I hadn't really considered it to the extent that it was gonna be a career. But once I get into it just became super interesting and Like I've been able to kind of keep the biology kind of focus alive a little bit too, with reporting on like exoplanets and the search for alien life and that sort of stuff is really exciting. And I think it only get more exciting as we go forward because that stuff is really ramping up. You know, we're actively searching for life on Mars with perseverance, and People are hoping to get those samples back from Mars. Perseverance is collecting and I mean, who knows what they're gonna find?

24:03 - Rod Pyle (Host)
and it's just like as we Learn more about cost.

24:06 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah Well, that's another issue, right, I mean we shall see. But like, yeah, I mean you were mentioning Kepler rod, like that. That mission showed us that that, like every star in the sky that we see has, on average, more than one planet. A lot of those planets are in the habitable zone. So all that stuff is happening just in the time. Since I joined Spacecom, like that sort of exoplanet revolution has been unfolding before our eyes, and so there is a lot of biology that you can Kind of get into in this, in the astronomy world, as people are now realizing. So it's all, yeah, it's just kind of interesting how, yeah, how it all came together.

24:38 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, and as cool as all that is, you've also written a book. Tell us about that.

24:42 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Oh yeah, about five years ago. It's, yeah, I mean it is about the, the ongoing search for alien life, and where that might be headed. It's, yeah, I mean it's called out there and it kind of looks at where we've come and where we're going and what the, what the chances might be For finding alien life, and I actually I'm an optimist. I think the chances of microbial life in our solar system and the like water universe are really high. I don't know about intelligent life, but I mean if you look at like life on earth, I mean this is like this is a basic argument you can make just from what happened here on earth and it's like an n equals One. So take that for what it's worth.

You know we don't have a big sample size, but if what happened here on earth is any indication, then it's not hard for life to get going, because earth formed about four and a half billion years ago, right, and for the first 500 million years it was really really hot and kind of a lava world and basically like, as soon as we cool down enough to host oceans and Look something like our modern world, that's when life got started.

You know we got fossils, kind of micro fossils that go back almost four billion years. So that sort of implies and it's not that hard for life to get going. And if it happened really fast here, why wouldn't it happen really fast elsewhere? So I mean I think there's reason to be optimistic about microbial life, but then it took about three billion years or more for microbial life to become the animal life. So I think that's like the big hurdle. There must be something about going kind of multicellular. That's really hard. So maybe there's not complex life, that's probably not that common. But I think microbial life is probably pretty common across the universe.

26:13 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But I think my brain's actually reverse, evolving or devolving into being a single cellular organ.

So we just had Pascal Lee on here the other day, who is a proponent of the cold, dry Mars past, which is kind of swimming upstream against an awful lot of people, including those folks at Caltech that that Tariq was referencing, that are a warm, warm, wet Mars in the past, even though it defies a lot of their modeling. So, given that, and given that Mars was apparently, at least by some estimations, verdant and, you know, could support life long before earth could have reliably, are you a fan of the Pence Burmy idea or not?

26:52 - Mike Wall (Guest)
so much yeah like I don't know it's. It's. It's really hard to say. There are some really smart people who think that life probably originated on Mars first, just because, like you're saying, it's a little smaller, so it cooled down faster and was kind of life-friendly first, prior to earth. So if if, like we were just talking about, life can emerge pretty quickly on a suitable world, then Mars was the suitable world in our solar system first.

Probably so, and there are all these. I mean we get pieces of Mars on earth, not terribly uncommonly or no asteroid impacts eject stuff into space, and if it's, if it's headed toward the Sun, earth's gravity Will intercept some of it. That's way more common than the other way around. Pieces of earth landing on Mars, you know, because Mars is out out beyond the Sun, so stuff's not gonna go out there as much as it gets sucked toward the Sun. So if, if life is moving from one world to the other, just kind of orbit a dynamic state, that probably it's more common to come from Mars to Earth, I'd like I don't know, I mean that's just total speculation. I would not be surprised if life originated on Mars, but we the only data point we have is there is life on earth. So, like I don't know, you can speculate where it came from. But I think the most, the most parsimonious kind of explanation is that it's here because it arose here. So we'll just that's this, that's the starting point. Then we can kind of speculate from there.

28:10 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But I do believe that's the first use of the word parsimonious. And Panspermia and all of this stuff man, I gotta get a dictionary out here. And beyond that, he solved the Mars sample returned budget problem, right there.

28:26 - Tariq Malik (Host)
It's already here, if, if, if people want to get to the bottom of that.

28:30 - Mike Wall (Guest)
I mean people, people want to know if there's life on Mars. Right, I mean perseverance. Could I mean say who knows it's? It just seems a real shame it's already collected a couple dozen of these things.

28:39 - Rod Pyle (Host)
It's gonna leave us out there Sitting on the ground like we should go get them. Yeah, well, and honestly I mean, given where they were collected from, I'd be so surprised if there anything other than dead sterile. But as my, as my parcel Parsimonious partner here has just pointed out, rod, get on to Starship. Those are almost halfway through. So Tell us about our big test. What were the high points? What were the low points? What does it all mean?

29:09 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Well, yeah, there was the third fully stacked test flight of Starship last week, march 14th, and it was the most successful to date, like by far. Of the three you know the like first one was last April, the second one was last November, that like first one you know it was. It was the first test flight. So there were a lot of problems, as you might expect, like the two stages of Starship, which is guess. We should explain what Starship is first, shouldn't we?

29:36 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, yeah, that's my next question. It's like what is Starship?

29:39 - Mike Wall (Guest)
It's the, it's the giant. See, this kind of follows in from that long Mars tangent that we just had right, because, because Starship is the giant rocket that SpaceX is developing to help humanity get to Mars and set up shop on Mars, that's like that, like that's been Elon Musk's like kind of long-held dream, that's he said repeatedly. That's why he started SpaceX more than 20 years ago was to make that like a feasible thing that that we can do, you know, bring the cost of spaceflight down enough that we can't actually launch enough missions there to set up a city and and Extend our footprint kind of beyond earth. So Starship, after after many incarnations, is the vehicle that that SpaceX things can make that happen. And it flew for the first time last April. Like I was saying, it didn't do that well that it's not unexpected for a first test flight. It has two stages. They failed to separate.

30:28 - Tariq Malik (Host)
it didn't do that. Well, is is nice, mike, speak I think it exploded Disassembled for four minutes after yeah, it did.

30:38 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah, I mean I did twice as well as Tark says. But no, I saw that. That was amazing. Yeah, it was. Yeah, you were there for it.

It was the first test flight of this giant rocket, biggest rocket ever built, most powerful ever built. It would have been shocking if it actually didn't blow up, but the but like the two stages didn't separate. It was tumbling, and then they actually they it. It was detonated on purpose, just for safety reasons. And then they made some changes and had to Get get the launch pad back in order, cuz because the launch pad at Starbase in South Texas was damaged by that original launch. And once they got everything up and running in November, like that one went better. They changed the, the the stage separation system. They changed it to a hot staging system, which means that that the upper stage engines start firing like before. The two stages are fully separated. That worked, the like two stages separated.

The plan was to send the giant upper stage spaceship, which is like a hundred and sixty five feet tall, send it partway around earth, have it splashed down, and in the Pacific, near Hawaii. That didn't happen. The yeah, like the upper stage blew up about about eight minutes after launch, and they, they wanted to bring the first stage, which is called super heavy, this giant booster that's got 33 engines. They wanted to bring it down for a splash down in the Gulf of Mexico. That didn't happen either. It also blew up, but, and so that second flight was over after eight minutes. And so we get to the third flight, which was last week. They had a different trajectory.

March 14th, yeah, march 14th they wanted to send the upper-state spacecraft in a different direction, toward the Indian Ocean for a splash down there. They actually and then they still wanted to bring Super Heavy down in the Gulf of Mexico. They almost succeeded in getting Super Heavy down safely. They did a successful stage separation. They did a boost back burn on Super Heavy which was to orient it for landing. During the landing burn it didn't go according to plan and about 1600 feet above the Gulf of Mexico they actually lost Super Heavy. It didn't do its landing but still it's pretty close and with the upper-stage they got it to reach orbital velocity. They got it on the trajectory for a splash down in the Indian Ocean but it broke apart during Ranchoater Earth's atmosphere about 49 minutes after launch.

So yeah, they did a lot more. They even did a few little experiments on the second stage. During the coast they actually opened its payload bay doors which is where the satellites will come out on an operational flight. They did a propellant transfer demonstration which will be really important for future Starship flights when they go to Earth orbit and they're going to have to refuel for the trip to Mars or the moon. They did that and apparently that went pretty well, although we haven't heard a ton of details about that. So they did these little side experiments. It seemed to go well and they just couldn't…. It seemed like, yeah, the upper stage was kind of… it was rolling a little bit when it was coming into the atmosphere and that may have had something to do with why it didn't survive. But I'm sure they're already busy working on the craft for the fourth flight, which actually they've said they want to launch maybe in early May or so, so we could see another try soon Early.

33:57 - Tariq Malik (Host)
May wow. Well, I guess….

34:00 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Sorry, just one quick thing. They never seemed to do one of these launches without having at least one camera angle of Boca Chica that shows like three or four of these things lined up. Oh yeah.

34:09 - Mike Wall (Guest)

34:11 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And I don't know how much of that is set dressing and how much of that is Okay, these are going next.

34:14 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Oh yeah, it is not set dressing.

34:15 - Rod Pyle (Host)
The TARC apparently does.

34:17 - Tariq Malik (Host)
It is not you drive out there.

34:19 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Yeah, but when I say that I mean, you know, at the rate that they improve and upgrade the things and have to make changes, I don't know how many of those are actually going to fly, do you? Yeah, yeah.

34:31 - Mike Wall (Guest)
No, and I mean they could theoretically make some changes after they've been partially constructed and stuff like that. But yeah, they're already looking toward the next test flight, like just… yeah, I mean right away, because that's the whole SpaceX philosophy right, you build, you fly and then, yeah, then you iterate based on how the flight went. So that's another thing to make clear is that when something blows up in flight or like whatever, for SpaceX it's not like a disaster like it would be for a NASA rocket, where if the like giant NASA rocket that we could talk about in a bit their new moon rocket if the space lost in some… If it blew up on its first flight, that would have been just a huge disaster, but if it blew up a second time, that would be really bad. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's like oops, true, true, but yeah, they fully expect to have problems on their first few test flights and then they'll identify what caused those problems and then iron it out in future flights. That's just how they work.

35:25 - Tariq Malik (Host)
People will compare Starship to… they need like a landmark to compare it to. Spacex likes to say, you know it's the same size as MecaGodzilla or whatever. But they know what the Saturn V rockets were, they knew how big they were. They went to the moon and so just in terms of numbers for Starship, how big is it? How does it rate to Saturn V? And I guess you know, when you say that this one flew higher, flew faster, was this their big win? Because it feels like from everyone was saying last week, you know, as we're recording this, that they turned some kind of corner reaching this kind of orbital speed milestone if they didn't circle the entire planet once to make an actual orbit.

36:24 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah, no, I mean, getting to orbital velocity was a really big milestone for the third flight and I think, yeah, they have celebrated that, probably rightly so. It's no small feat on the third test flight to notch that milestone. And yeah, I mean it is like a nice marker to compare it to. People know about the Saturn V, or at least people of a certain age know about the Saturn V. That was 365 or 363 feet tall, was the Saturn V? The kind of current version of Starship is 397 or kind of thereabouts, maybe about just give or take a foot or two.

37:05 - Tariq Malik (Host)
So it's just about so. It's a 30-story building taller than a Saturn V.

37:09 - Mike Wall (Guest)
It's huge, yeah. Yeah, it's just about 400 feet tall.

37:13 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Or a three-story building taller. Sorry.

37:15 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah, and it's way more power. Well, I mean in terms of thrust at lift off, which is one easy way to compare it, it's about 16.7 million pounds of, yeah, lift off thrust for Starship and that's like more than twice what the Saturn V could generate. So it's the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built. Starship is.

37:36 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Why is it made out of stainless steel? Okay, before we get into, that, sure, sure, sure, yeah, that's my next question.

37:43 - Rod Pyle (Host)
As we put in the scroll, we need to take an ad break, so we'll be right back. Stay with us.

37:49 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, I guess I left the cat out of the bag for my next question.

37:53 - Rod Pyle (Host)

37:54 - Tariq Malik (Host)
So most rockets that we see are made out of super thin or whatever aluminum. Nasa paints them white and or I guess NASA doesn't paint them at all right, the SLS is like all orange and white, but SpaceX made theirs out of stainless steel, so it's like a bright, shiny tin rocket.

38:15 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, harkening back to the original Atlas right.

38:20 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I mean, is that? Is that why I don't know, Mike, do you know why they picked stainless?

38:24 - Mike Wall (Guest)
steel. Yeah, yeah, well, there was a big conversation about this node like like back in its original kind of incarnation or what, what they thought Starship was going to be back when it was called like the Mars colonial transporter or or like the interplural or interplanetary transport system or the big Falcon rocket. It's had these various incarnations over the past decade or so. The same basic rocket, same basic idea giant rocket, get people to Mars. But like when it, when it yeah, when, like when it was first conceived, and in the early years they thought they were going to build it out of, out of like carbon kind of fiber composite stuff which is very high tech. It's really good for spaceflight because it's strong and it's durable and it can deal with with like heating loads and stuff like that. But it's also really expensive.

And for SpaceX's vision of building tons and tons of these things and flying them a lot, I mean especially testing them a lot when you're going to lose them, I mean they decided eventually about five years ago or so, that they're going to go stainless steel because it's pretty common, it's pretty cheap and yeah, I mean it's it. It works like kind of well enough for spaceflight. They determined through their testing and so that's that has ended up, kind of saving them lots and lots of money. I would expect like, especially if you expect to be building dozens and dozens of these things, those, those price point differences in the construction material really make a huge difference.

39:45 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, and I think that's a really good point. You know, if you've, I'm sure you've been down to Hawthorne, to the headquarters there, and you walk in there and it's like the General Motors of Rockets, you know there's second stages stacked up over here and interstages lined up over here and so forth. And if you're going to do this kind of assembly line thing that he's been trying to do, you probably want a material like that. That's got well known characteristics and will do the job.

40:08 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I feel like I'm the only one here who has not been to the SpaceX rocket factory.

40:12 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So well, I think that's only fair that I've done so they. And, of course, that's in the Adaster travel budget, right Cause it's $14 worth of gas from me. Mike, you know one of the things that we talk about. You know why? Why Starship is that it's supposed to be ultimately fast to build, cheap to maintain and, of course, refliable, which is the big thing that nobody else has mastered before SpaceX, and they haven't mastered with Starship yet, but they, they will, we think. So I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that and about the Raptor engine, and you know how that design of so many small engines burning methane is kind of all about reusability too.

40:50 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah, Well, that's the big key for Starship compared to the Saturn five, and we're talking about how tall they are and how much thrust they have and all that stuff. But what's really important is is, obviously, starship is built to be fully reusable, rapidly reusable, like they've said that they they want to refly both stages, like I mean, multiple times per per day. Theoretically, I mean, there's this vision. Elon Musk has set up this vision where he'll they'll launch a Starship. This is, this is at some point in the future, when it's operational and they're like super heavy booster, will come back for a landing, you know, just, just, just like the Falcon nine boosters do. But their vision for Starship is for the giant booster to come back and actually land on the orbital pad or on on the orbital launch mount and it'll be caught by these giant kind of chopstick arms that the launch tower has and then they can just refurbish it right there, reinspect it and fly it again like within a day or so or maybe even less, so that that's the kind of order of like a reusability that they're targeting with Starship, whereas, you know, saturn five was a, was a fly at once and it's done vehicle same same with the space launch system, which is which is the new NASA moon rocket. So, yeah, they're that's designed to make Mars like Mars settlement, moon settlement, that sort of thing economically feasible.

And but, yeah, like the engines, it's. It's. It's a different engine on Starship than they use on the Falcon nine or the Falcon heavy. Those are fueled by by like a kerosene kind of derivative RP one with with, you know, with like liquid oxygen as an aquedizer.

They've gone a different route with the Raptor engines for Starship that that still uses liquid oxygen, but they but but the yeah, the other component is is actually liquid methane, and that was designed with Mars in mind because that you can theoretically make methane on Mars without too much difficulty from the atmosphere. You know carbon dioxide is the dominant component of the Martian atmosphere and you can do some chemical reactions and draw, draw Martian air in and get, get, get, yeah, get methane out without too much difficulty. So that was all part of the consideration for what the Raptor engine is going to burn in, why they settled on like liquid methane. So you can have these little production fields, yeah, these, these kind of like production facilities on Mars, where they're, you know, they're making propellant for the Starships that are landing there and then flying off again. So that's, that's all part of the picture.

43:11 - Rod Pyle (Host)
It just seems weird. You know I follow what you're saying, but it's not like it's hard to get hydrogen on Mars either. Yeah, but that works well as a fuel.

43:21 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah, but but it's also, you know, hydrogen is such a small molecule and people who who are watching when when NASA kept trying to fly Artemis-1, they kept having hydrogen leaks because that's, that's the propellant for the space launch system it's just harder to deal with. I think for a lot I mean, I'm no rocket engineer, but a lot of people that you talk to about it. So you know, hydrogen is is pretty tricky. It's it's, I mean, leaks very, very easily. So everything has to just be perfect for it to all stay in place. And I mean, maybe that's a consideration too for for SpaceX, why they went with with this different fuel.

43:53 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But yeah, so I love Tarek. You know he's here with us. We've just well, I pulled back the blankets on our grief about, you know, running into to math walls when we were undergraduates. He says I'm no engineer, but okay, I'm sorry, go ahead.

44:09 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, so you know there was. I guess one of the big things I wanted to ask you about no-transcript was you know why, as soon as they launched this they get these big accolades from NASA, and obviously SpaceX is a big NASA contractor. They fly astronauts to the the International Space Station and I guess they're planning to use Starship for that too. We've talked about that in the past, but Bill Nelson said after this launch he says that Starship has soared into the heavens and that it's making great strides through the Artemis to return humanity to the moon and then look onward to Mars, and it sounds like they've got NASA. You know the collective they for at NASA have a lot riding on Starship, just as much as SpaceX does. Right, because they've made some choices when it comes to SpaceX's Starship that you know are going to affect their plans to get to the moon. Is that right?

45:04 - Mike Wall (Guest)
They certainly have. Yeah, they just a couple years ago actually, nasa chose Starship as the first lunar lander, first, yeah, first kind of astronaut carrying lunar lander for the Artemis program, which wants to set up like one or more moon bases near the South Pole of the moon. And so their current schedule calls for Starship to be used for the first time to do just that on the Artemis 3 mission, which is supposed to launch in about two and a half years, kind of like third quarter of 2026. And so, yeah, nasa does have a lot riding on Starship's development and success. They're like hoping that it's ready to carry astronauts on a moon mission to the lunar surface, not just lunar orbit, by kind of late 2026. And I mean, who knows if that's gonna happen?

45:52 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I was gonna say the fact that Flight 3 went so well means that's fine, right, that they don't have any trouble getting there, right?

45:59 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah, I mean put in a few seats in Starship and it's just ready to go. No, they still need to do life support and all that and I don't know how many times they're going to need to fly successfully before NASA's comfortable putting astronauts on board. Like there are gonna be a lot of test flights before people go on board that.

46:16 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Including one to the moon right. I think that SpaceX had to add an uncrewed Starship landing on the moon.

46:22 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah, they're gonna have to do one uncrewed test flight to the moon, but I'm sure there are gonna be dozens and dozens more that just go to Earth orbit or just launch Saturn, and that's gonna be a lot of satellites. This thing is gonna get a workout before people get on board.

46:36 - Tariq Malik (Host)
So I had two more questions about that, because you mentioned, it's like what, 165 feet tall, just the Starship part of it, right, yeah, how do you get down off of that?

46:45 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Right, I think that Neil Armstrong it was all during that Once you landed on the moon, maybe.

46:50 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, they had a few steps on a ladder to walk down, but man a ladder.

46:55 - Mike Wall (Guest)
I'm not sure what the latest design kind of choice is for that. I mean it would have to be an elevator of some sort or, like you have, like a just like a snazzy fireman pole running the like like the length of the spacecraft, like I don't know. I mean I'm not up to speed on what their latest designs are.

47:11 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, so I can answer that. Quite, I can't answer what we should do, because if you grew up and I did and you saw movies like Destination, moon and others, you know that you just tossed down a rope with knots in it, because that's what they used to do. Tariq, I know you've got another burning question and I'm sorry you have a burning problem, but we have one more quick break and we'll be right back, so stay with us.

47:38 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, most of my questions now are about like what's coming up ahead, because obviously Flight 4 you're talking about, mike, is set for May. Maybe the first astronauts land with Artemis in what in 2026. But SpaceX is building this from Mars and initially, I think, what back in 2016, when they first announced it, they hinted at point to point travel and, like I saw, like some other recent contract let come out of either DARPA or the Pentagon for these kind of site to site cargo and a lot of the renderings look a lot like Starship too. So I guess the question is, what is the business case for Mars now, I guess? Or does it all hinge on a successful moon landing to show that they can use these vehicles reusably over and over again, to achieve their missions there.

48:35 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Well, first can we say how funny it would be if the fourth Starship test flight like if it does go on May 1st, like the same day, starliner flies astronauts for the first time. That would be very sad. I didn't even think about that. It would just overshadow Starliner as much highly anticipated crew flight. But yeah, I mean that remains to be seen.

But I don't know if you have to make a Mars business case for Starship, because SpaceX wants to use it for everything. They eventually want to use it to launch all of their big Starlink satellites, their more capable ones, that they're developing. They want to use it to launch all the other satellites that they get contracted to launch. It's not to say that's going to happen immediately. Falcon 9, falcon Heavy are both flight proven rockets and a lot of customers will want to keep flying on them.

But kind of like the long haul, kind of long term vision for SpaceX is that they're going to use Starship for pretty much everything, and that actually includes point to point transportation. Spacex has talked about using it as like a super fast concord, basically taking people from one spot to another on the globe, anywhere, basically in an hour or 90 minutes, whatever it is. So like I think that the thought process is you get tons of revenue from all these different use cases for Starship, and I mean one of those use cases, like you were saying that the US military has definitely talked to them and is interested in using Starship to put cargo down in various places. It launches vertically, it can take off vertically, so on and so forth. You don't need a runway and it's huge and it can deliver lots of cargo. So maybe that's, maybe they're going to contract to deliver stuff to out of the way places that planes can't land and stuff like that.

But all that and point to point, you know, I mean rich folks who want to get from from like New York to Dubai and like in an hour or something, all that's part of the what's going to pay for everything. And then there'll be enough money left over for Elon and for SpaceX to do Mars missions, to like I don't know. I mean I don't. I don't see a Mars, a Mars business case anytime in the near future. I don't know, maybe I don't know who's going to pay them, aside from like NASA who wants to set up a Mars research outpost. But yeah, I don't know, that's probably that's. That's like pretty far down the road.

50:54 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Teacher, teacher, I know the answer, at least I know the one that was given to me. So I asked when shot? Well, that exact question before eight years ago, seven years ago, and she looked me square in the eye and said oh, that's pretty simple, once we get the cost down to effectively a a medium home mortgage, which back in those days would have been about $250,000. People just want to go.

I said Okay, and you know, I kind of felt like she was in the back where I was reading off the company script because this is, this is a bit of editorial. But she kind of looked about as convinced as I was hearing the answer. But I can't say that with any, you know, any strength.

51:40 - Tariq Malik (Host)
But you say that, but like people are dropping $20 million just to go to the space station, that's true.

51:47 - Rod Pyle (Host)
However, mars is a little longer and since we still don't know what it's going to be, you're going to be stacked. Speak your pes dispenser arrangements. You're going to be stacked in there like a bunch of pes with probably one toilet.

51:58 - Tariq Malik (Host)
That's. That's a question I had, because in 2016, when we'll go right ahead.

52:03 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Oh, sorry, sorry.

52:06 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, no, I was. I was going to ask, I mean, how many people can ride this thing, because NASA's Artemis missions are, like you know, a crew of four maybe to make the landing, if not all four, and Elon had said that they were going to send 100 people on this thing. There is at least one private mission that I know of that goes around the moon, the dear moon mission. That has maybe eight people. So that's like like a shotgun range of who can fly on it. I mean, what is there a capacity that they've said is like a minimum or a maximum.

52:41 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, and, if I may, related to this question, if you could also discuss this we have not yet, in all these years, seen a single interior rendering from SpaceX.

52:50 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, we've seen those ones where, like, there's like a concert going on windows and there's like a those are fanciful.

52:57 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I'm talking about like a CAD rendering.

53:00 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Anyway, yeah, yeah, no, we don't know. I mean just, I mean, like you guys are saying we don't know anything about the life support system. You know, people have actually asked you on that and he's like, well, you know, we like did it for Dragon. We'll use a variant of what we do for for Dragon, which?

53:14 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I asked him that yeah.

53:18 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And he looked you square the iron basically said how hard can it be?

53:21 - Mike Wall (Guest)
That's exactly what he said, and I mean, he has reason to be confident there. They've obviously done some great things, but this is a, this is another level. Right, this thing is 165 feet tall. And yeah, I mean, if you just kind of follow the lines Twitter feed, x feed. Sorry, he recently did kind of reuse that like 100 person number, I like, if I'm not mistaken, I mean. So I think they still have in mind it could take up to 100 people on Mars colony flights or something, but we don't know what the inside is going to look like, because what like, how, how hard is like?

53:54 - Rod Pyle (Host)
a city bus, Basically the size of a large freight liner truck, and you're going to put I know it's 100 people in zero G, but that's got to be 100 of your very, very closest friends.

54:06 - Mike Wall (Guest)
It's not a short trip If you're going to Mars either. I mean you talk about people paying a lot of money for the space station. I like I don't think that the that what's going to kind of inhibit it Most people from wanting to go to Mars if they have the means is the cost. I think it's just you're going to be away for so long from your family or friends. Your life, your planets there are not going to be. I mean, maybe there are more people who will want to do that than I think there are, but that's, that's a big leap to go to another planet and spend a few months out there. I mean, starship could cut travel time down from the current eight months or so from one planet to the other, but it's still going to be multiple months that you get there, multiple months to get back. Yeah, it's, it's a it's a big ask to go do that.

54:49 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Can you imagine what that thing's going to smell like by the time they get there? I talk about old Jim Sox. I'm sorry, tarik, go ahead. Do you have another question?

54:57 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, yeah, you had a story recently, mike and Anthony. This is on line 52. Actually, I just added it in there on our little document, where Elon was wasn't just looking at, you know, mars or Saturn. Some of the rendering show Saturn like like or Jupiter, that that Starship is kind of flying around, but it says that Starship will go interstellar right, like leave our, our star system entirely. Does he really think that that's something that they're going to go to?

55:32 - Mike Wall (Guest)
I assume so, and he posted that on on on X not too long ago. He said, like a future, much, like much larger version of Starship will go interstellar some day. And I mean, who even knows people who are working on like interstellar flight concepts? Now it's, it's really, really hard. You know, people might, might remember breakthrough, Starshot and those those announced like 2016, I believe, and they're trying to come up with a way to use super powerful ground based lasers to accelerate these little kind of laser sail equipped probes to get to Alpha Centauri in like 20 years or so, and that's like really, really hard. And these, these little laser sailing probes, have bodies that are the size of like a postage stamp and they just right, they, yeah. So then you're talking about a giant spacecraft that's even bigger than the current Starship that can carry people interstellar. I mean, we're like decades and decades away from that. Like that's just even that's really hard to even imagine with our current technology.

56:32 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I thought landing rockets from space, though, was going to be hard, and then they do it like four times a week.

56:38 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Like I'm not saying it's impossible, but I don't think I'm going to see that in my lifetime. I mean, I mean, if we have enough time, human ingenuity is amazing and we build on what we've learned in the past, and so never say never. But a lot of the stuff that we all dream of happening as like space fans, exploration fans is just going to happen far in the future.

56:57 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Sadly, Sadly just you try to imagine being in something that's basically the same size, although it'd be larger that's basically around the same size as the International Space Station for like 20 years. Because the probes you're talking about are basically, like you know, flinging potato chips out with a laser. This thing, yeah, wow.

57:18 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I think actually there's a size of potato chips to those.

57:22 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Maybe he got tired of talking about Mars and said, ok, I got to change the narrative here a little bit, but whatever.

57:28 - Tariq Malik (Host)
We never actually mentioned to you that that Starship is not is not only the world's tallest rocket, it has the most engines right that have ever fired together. On the first stage at least for an American rocket, If not the yeah, the giant Soviet moon rocket that never flew successfully had something.

57:46 - Mike Wall (Guest)
They had about 30, like I believe, but that that thing never said or something yeah, it will never flew. And the first stage of Starship Super Heavy has has 33 Raptor engines and three engines, and there are six on the upper stage spacecraft too. So so, like every fully integrated Starship that flies has got 39 Raptors on it.

58:07 - Tariq Malik (Host)
That means? That means that in three flight tests they have thrown away over a hundred engines.

58:13 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah, but then in these mail tests.

58:15 - Rod Pyle (Host)
wow they can make them in like an afternoon now, that is so crazy, it's not a big deal. And let's remind ourselves, you know, still, when you talk about companies like, like Aerojet, rocketdyne and others, making a rocket engine to them is a big, big better part of a year deal. And here Elon is making them every couple of days saying you know just below the 30.

58:38 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I think I just did the math that six engines, that six, six Raptors on on Starship 33, on, on, on, on. So that's 117 engines that they've in less than a year they spent on Tarik's got to show off because we've already demonstrated our math and abilities.

58:55 - Rod Pyle (Host)
He's not got to do. Hey look, I can do it too, okay look, I want to get this question in before it's too late. So we've got. We've got Yasai Umezawa, is that his name, I think it's.

Yasai Umezawa, thank you who actually worked for back in the 90s doing a very low end commercial for Zozo, and then his life took off and mine sank but at least financially his profile. But you know. So he's going to take, you know, seven of his closest friends, I think Tim Dodds, on that flight supposedly around the moon someday, sort of kind of would you go?

59:38 - Mike Wall (Guest)
on that flight or on any flights.

59:41 - Rod Pyle (Host)
First question is on that flight, which is very early, I would not.

59:47 - Mike Wall (Guest)
I mean I'm I'm kind of a careful, coward kind of person. I want the system that I'm flying on to be extremely proven. I mean, like I admire the people who go on these things and I mean somebody needs to do it. I, I, I'd like to see Starship carry like a bunch of people successfully on a lot of missions, like a few dozen missions before I'd want to get on it. I mean, and that's, that's not an indictment of SpaceX or Starship. You know, I'd say this to him about any spacecraft. It's just, it's such an inherently like energetic, potentially dangerous thing to do. There's your base. It's a controlled explosion, basically when you get on a rocket. So that's true of all spaceflight. I would just be wary of it. Not, it's exciting, but I want to make sure I see the like vehicle that I'm getting on have a few dozen successful flights under its belt before I consider it.

01:00:40 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Yeah, I think I'm with you there. I'd be much more interested in going with a high possibility of coming home in one piece than being early freight on it. The other thing I'd sit there and you could do this much better than I could. Mike, I'd want to sit there and pan out. Okay, you've got this volume. I don't know what's the volume of the International Space Station 28,000 cubic feet or something. It's a five-metre house.

01:01:07 - Mike Wall (Guest)
It's like a big house yeah.

01:01:09 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Yeah, so you've got about the same amount of interior space as that with Starship, much like the days of Jules Verne and the journey of the moon. I'd want to know how long you could breathe that air if nothing works after launch, right yeah, right away to the moon. We can't turn around. How long will people? It's like doing the same thing in the submarine. All right, stop whining. Rod Mike, I want to thank you for coming and for leading us through the Starship's orbital feet F-E-A-T, as Derek pointed out in the description. I am, course, rod Pyle, editor-in-chief at Astro Magazine, and I'm here with Tarek, and we want to thank Mike for joining us. Don't forget to check out spacecom, the websites and the name, and the National Space Society and NSSorg. Both are good places to satisfy your space-like cravings. And, mike, because I could do it here in public and embarrass you in front of everybody, I would love to invite you to write for Ad Astra someday. I don't think we pay as well as spacecom. Just think of the glory of being in print. Yeah, beautiful slick cover.

01:02:17 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Anyway, that's the way to do it. It's a very rare privilege these days to have your work in print being rarer and rarer is the things that are going.

01:02:26 - Rod Pyle (Host)
yeah, so, Mike, where can we stay abreast of your various spaceflight?

01:02:29 - Mike Wall (Guest)
efforts Just basically come to spacecom. You can search for my stories on our site and get links to my very boring Twitter account, which I almost never update. But that's all there.

01:02:43 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And we can read your book.

01:02:45 - Mike Wall (Guest)
Yeah, you can definitely do that. I would not be angry about that if people wanted to do that. So for those who are watching, this video.

01:02:53 - Rod Pyle (Host)
we've got an image of that up. It's called Out there. You can buy it on Amazon and everywhere else books are sold and if you do, make sure you leave a review, because we authors live and die by our Amazon reviews. Tark, where can we find you enjoying your newly-abilified Star Trek chair?

01:03:11 - Tariq Malik (Host)
That's right. Well, you can find me also at spacecom, you know, finding out what the new big space thing is, or on the Twitter at TarkJMalloc. And if you're at PAX East this weekend in Boston, say hi, I'm going to go see what's all the new space games that are coming out there. It's going to be fun. What the heck is PAX East. Pax East. It's like a gaming convention. Is it like what E3 used to be? It was much smaller, much smaller than.

01:03:37 - Rod Pyle (Host)
E3. Oh, ok, yeah. But E3 was a lot of fun when it was around. E3 was weird. There were way too many bikinis there for something that was supposed to be about video games.

01:03:47 - Tariq Malik (Host)
They did stop, that they did stop that it was smart of them.

01:03:50 - Rod Pyle (Host)
It worked, but it was weird, all right. And of course you can find me at pilebookscom or at astromagazinecom. Please don't forget to drop us a line at twist at twittv. That's T-W-I-S at twittv. We welcome your comments, suggestions and ideas. And I swear next week, tark, I'm going to read some fan mail, because we get a bunch of it every week and we got a really lovely note that I'm going to read this week, but I burnt. Should I do it anyway?

01:04:18 - Mike Wall (Guest)
It only takes a second.

01:04:20 - Rod Pyle (Host)
This came in from Julie Lynn Cole. I love this one. I mean I love a lot of them but said hi guys, you don't know it, but you are part of our weekly routine. My husband indulges my space cravings on Friday nights in our home, our called Space Night. Thanks to you guys, we listen as we go to sleep.

01:04:39 - Mike Wall (Guest)
And we are snoring.

01:04:40 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Don't take it personally. Love you guys. Thank you for sharing your work with us on Space Night.

01:04:46 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Oh, Space Nights are the best nights.

01:04:48 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Yeah, there's a little more mainly about the Nukes of Space episode, but that was the important stuff. Thank you, julie. That was lovely, and you know we pride ourselves on being able to put people to sleep. So, speaking of which, new episodes of this podcast published every Friday on your favorite pod catcher. So please make sure to subscribe, tell your friends, give us reviews and send us hugs and kisses. Five stars or a thumbs up will do nicely. You can also head to our website at twittvtwist Also, of course, as always, don't forget that you can get all the great programming on the twit network ad free on Club Twit, as well as some extras that are only available there for just $7 per month.

I think, tark, now that you've gotten your chair fixed, we should actually make a little jiff loop of you doing your fall. That would be kind of cool. We could put that up in the Discord. And, of course, if you join Club Twit, you also get access to the Discord, which is a lot of fun, for $7 a month. What else can you get for $7 a month? That's going to approach that level of joy. You can also follow the Twitt Tech Podcast Network at twitt, on Twitter and on Facebook and twitttv and Instagram. Thanks everybody, it's been a pleasure. Thanks Mike, thanks Tark. We'll see you next time.


All Transcripts posts