This Week in Space 108 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 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Coming up on this Week in Space, Rod and I are going to talk about Boeing Starliner crew flight test. Finally, Boeing is ready to launch astronauts for the first time. Here's what to know and what to look out for. Tune in.

00:14 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Podcasts you love From people you trust. This is TWIT. This is this Week in Space, episode number 108, recorded on april 26, 2024. Starliner. Better late than never. Hello and welcome to another episode of this week in space, the starliner at last edition. I'm rod pile, editor-in-chief badass magazine, and I'm here, as always, always with Tarek Malik, the iconoclastic editor-in-chief of Spacecom. Hello, sir.

00:47 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Hello Rod Starliner, I'm wearing my shirt, let's go.

00:53 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So you say, well, we'll see. Before we start, I would like to remind everybody to please do us a solid Make sure to like, subscribe and other podcast things, because, uh, we, we need to know that we have your love. And now a space joke from listener scott o'rick. Scott, god, an alien visiting earth, was hungry and walked into the apple store. A few moments later he was choking and died on the spot. Oh no, when the police interviewed the store clerk, he shrugged and told him. Oh, he shrugged and replied I just told him that model was only a single terabyte terabyte, because it's earth yes, thank you.

Thank you, scott, thank you, uh, everybody, and uh, don't forget to save us from yourselves and send us your best work or most of your space. Joke at twist at twittv now.

01:55 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Let's hope some aliens don't eat computers. That'd be really bad.

01:58 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Let's get on to the important thing. I believe this week was special. Why was this week special? Tarek?

02:06 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, I don't know, rod, I feel like you're teeing me up for something. Well, it was my birthday.

02:13 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Is that why it was your birthday, and not only was it your? So oh, here we go, Swing it high and low.

02:21 - AI Song (Other)
It's Tariq's day. Let's hit the groove. Beat on that birthday. Move Across the stars and moonlit space flights. Laughing in our suits While gaming hard in virtual fights and battles, fortnights and loots. Then crash, he laughs. Tips from his chair A fun, chaotic spook. The band wails on with blaring horns. Tonight we raise the roof Swinging through the nebula. Tariq's got his game face on High score on the rise With every beat. The drums are kicking Trumpets to the skies, tap dancing on a spaceship Moonwalk without shoes. Tonight it's all about to blast off. It's a party not to lose. Jitterbug in the cosmos. Tariq's nightshade defer. Tariq's nightshade defer.

03:20 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Those weren't the best lyrics on the planet Earth.

03:24 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Hey, that is great. Thank you so much.

03:26 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, and the best gift of all, sir, as you were talking before the show, is that you don't know how old you are. Which is, you know, when we're old and dribbling at the old folks home, it'll be good. Well, I'll be dead by the time you get there. It'll be good to always be younger than you think you are. Yeah, well, I'll be dead by the time you get there, but it'll be good to always be younger than you think you are.

03:50 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, I was telling Rod and John and Anthony in the back room that I spent the last year thinking I was turning 48, that I was already 47 and turning 48. And then I did the math this week and realized, no, no, I'm actually 46 and I'm turning 47. So at least there's that. You know I'm a little. I save one extra year before the great five. Oh, but it's, it's creeping up, creeping up fast there.

04:13 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So and now we know why you're an excellent song, why you're a space journalist instead of a rocket scientist by the way, I just put in that one wrong.

04:24 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Oh, it is not lost on me. Bad of an actual astronaut or scientist I would be. You remember I was the one that the astronomy internship put me on the kiddie computer so that I didn't overwrite any other, any other more, any more data after I erased almost nearly erased a week's worth of observations of the sun.

04:42 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So yeah, maybe it's good that I just kind of observe from the rafters Was that in the little, teeny, tiny, kernel-sized astronomy department at USC.

04:53 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, it was in like their research room, which was like a closet type thing that just was filled with sun computers and me and another intern who knew what he was doing and me who didn't know what a sun computer was or how to type the commands in or anything like that.

05:10 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, at least they had one. When I was briefly considering a run at USC before I decided to go to real school, I went to their astronomy department and it was nice. The people that had gone through it that I knew up at Griffith Observatory where I work really liked it. But I do remember it was tiny it was. It was actually nice because it was kind of intimate, you know it wasn't a big impersonal thing like they had at UCLA yeah we got a lot of personal attention.

05:35 - Tariq Malik (Host)
but it does mean that if you study astronomy at least it did like 30 years ago, whatever it was that all the classes aren't available all the time. So you have to take them on a rotating schedule, which meant I actually had to stay at USC for an extra semester to complete the astronomy portion of my degree process, to get the minor, because I had to wait for the next class to be available and it was only available in an extra semester. So no doubling up there.

06:00 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, we'll consider that to be our first headline for the day. Tarek had to stay, was held back, and it's not just in school, but in his university experience. He had the little little white cone hat on, not for reasons you might think. All right, let's get to some headlines. What do you say, brother?

06:18 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yes, let's do it.

06:20 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Let's do it. So, voyager, we finally, we finally got a phone call.

06:25 - Tariq Malik (Host)
This is correct. That's right. Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced just earlier this week that they did, in fact, after five months of not hearing from the Voyager spacecraft what was it like 11 billion miles away, something like that out in interstellarar space that they got that little bit uh back from the spacecraft. So they know that they're back in contact, they know that the they, they have the health of the spacecraft for the first time, uh and um, and that's really exciting because, as we were talking about in our updates on this in the past, it is not like a fast process to try to talk to voyager 1 out there beyond the stars. I mean, it takes 45-hour round trip, that's right. It takes two days just to have one conversation, and so they had to basically isolate over the last five months.

You know where is the glitch? What system is it in? Oh, it's in this little bit, you know. And over time they were able to kind of get to the part it's in this, this little bit, you know, and uh, and over time they were able to kind of get to the part where, uh, they are in um, in communication, like where they can understand what the spacecraft is saying. It's not sending out back the gobbledygook that it was doing before and, um, you know, we're talking about 47 year old things. This, this is, this, is voyager, you know, turning 47 this year too, and uh, and so, uh, it's just, it's just amazing that they've been able to to get it, because it's been, um, uh, what it's been since november 14th that all this stuff really started and uh, well, we're talking about a, an almost half century old computer with all the memory of a tennis shoe.

08:05 - Rod Pyle (Host)
You know I mean it's really. If you, if you showed somebody on a pie chart what it could do versus a modern iphone or something you'd, you'd just fall out of your chair laughing. Oh wait, you do that anyway.

08:18 - Tariq Malik (Host)
You know what I mean yeah, yeah and, and there's a I know that on the video side of things we were showing the story earlier. There's a great photo there of the JPL team with their arms up like in touchdown victory, just cheering. When they got that contact restored and I undersold it, I said 11 billion miles, no, they're like 15 billion miles out there On the video for folks on that side side. You can see that, that photo now of all these, uh, uh, these engineers and scientists on the voyager flight team, elderly engineers no, no, I wouldn't say. I'd say it's a good mix so well I'm looking.

09:00 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I saw a lot of people that kind of look like they're edging up on my age, but but they would be right.

09:05 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, but the work's not done, rod. The work's not done here because they do need to spend like the next few weeks basically adjusting the rest of this flight data software which is where they isolated the glitch over these last few months, to recover all of the parts of that system that have to package and send back the science data that Voyager is still capable of because it can do some. Its power is very low so it can't use all of its instruments, but they want to make sure that they get that all sorted over the next few weeks. So they'll take it slow, like we said, 15 billion miles, two-day round trip but they're going to get there and it seems like we're going to at least be all set for a nice 47th anniversary. In what was that? In September, in August, right Is that when they launched July?

09:49 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Anyway, in the summer. They launched across two months. Yeah, yeah, all right. Moving on, china's new space station had an issue. Oh, you changed the headline, I'm sorry.

10:05 - Tariq Malik (Host)
China's Shenzhou-18 crew launches to Tiangangong space station which was hit by a piece of space crud. Yeah, yeah, well, the it didn't happen at the same time. This is really interesting. But, yeah, the the news came out kind of back to back, essentially this week, actually on my birthday, because I think that china was trying to give me a message. They they launched their new crew to the international, to the Tiangong space station. It was a six and a half hour trip. They've got it pretty swift, like Roscosmos and SpaceX, and this includes, I think, the commander or a member of the Shenzhou 13 crew, who is the new commander, as well as two others who joined, three other astronauts on the station now, so a big crew change. But this has been going on now for several years. China now has a basically permanently crewed space station in orbit.

But what we did find out just days ahead of this launch and it came out actually during the press conference for this mission is that the Shenzhou 17 crew so that's the crew that was already up there they did two spacewalks over the last few months. I think one was in like the december time frame and then there was one in march and it turned out that some of the tasks on those spacewalks were to repair the actual tian gang space station because it was struck by debris and we don't know what. Was it like a meteoroid or was it actual spacecraft debris, space junk? Um, that knocked out part of the power system on the spacecraft, which you never want to have on your spacecraft. So they had to do some sort of uh patch-ups, uh to, to fix that and um and it.

It came out and this was a report that we had seen from both Xinhua News as well as, like from Reuters and others but it did come out that China said that they're going to develop new plans in place when it comes to space debris management.

Now they're saying they're going to do this, you know, after they've blown up, they've blown up a satellite and created vast clouds of debris and just throw stuff all over the place. Now, after a piece hits their space station, now they're going to say they're going to try to rein that back in. So those were kind of two interesting things where they had this debris event at the space station, admitted that they had to fix it, and then they had a new crew that's going to be responsible for dealing with that uh over the next, uh, next six months or so all right, and uh oh, china has announced partnerships with nicaragua, the arab union for astronomy and the pacific space cooperation organization, which is headquartered in beijing, for the international lunar research station, which is their answer to the artemis accords came along a little later.

12:52 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Uh is not punching quite as high as artemis is. Uh, they have, what did I put here? 10, I think 10 or 11 partners, and we're up to 38 now.

13:03 - Tariq Malik (Host)
But yeah, no, I added this one just because of the moon aspect of it. This was from Space News, by the way, that had this story, and it was interesting because, as you mentioned, I think, slovakia signed the Artemis Accords recently to become one of the newest members, and NASA there was another country as well and at the same time, you have China reaching out to other folks around the world too. So you have Nicaragua now the Arab Union for Astronomy and the Pacific Space Corporation, which is actually an organization based in Beijing, right?

13:34 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But you kind of wonder if that counts right, yeah exactly I got my uncle to sign up.

13:41 - Tariq Malik (Host)
The reason I bring this part up is because, in addition to this international which we've seen in the past, because China has said that they want to cooperate with Russia as well on this research project, this research base on the moon. They actually released a very interesting video and I didn't have time to find it it was on Twitter to add it in here, but maybe we'll add the link in after we're done where they show what all of the Chinese astronauts on the moon, a vast kind of metropolis moon base, and I think in the background there was a space shuttle, an actual space shuttle. Oh that yeah.

14:15 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, there was a space shuttle without any support structure or external tank taking off in the background. Yeah, it was kind of weird. Yeah, yeah, because, of course, you need a glider on the moon right.

14:27 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, but it just shows that they are trying to push the international aspect of it all. I will, though, be interested to see if that international part factors into the Tiangong space station, to see if we see an international crew member or someone on like a crew rotation, so you only have two Chinese astronauts and maybe one partner from these countries that flies up to tiangong, you know, is there for rotation and returns back to earth. You know, that'll be very interesting to see how this new program or not this new program, but this, this moon program, uh builds on the space station, because they have that asset up there right now well, it's interesting because, uh, the ilrs, as we like to call it, started as international between them and Russia.


15:07 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And yet, and they bought the Shenzhou spacecraft you know the original drawings and design for it from Russia and yet we have not seen a cooperative flight on on Tiangong yet, have we?

15:23 - Tariq Malik (Host)
No no not yet, not yet either but speaking of space debris, there was a shenzhou orbital module that burned up over the west coast, that lit up the skies over california, so so we were just talking about debris. There is that too. Um, but it you know, right right now, russia is is in their partnership. Russ cosmos is in their partnership. Roscosmos is in their partnership with the International Space Station. Unless there's some sort of really easy way to team up for Tiangong as part of like an early partnership for this moon program. It'll be interesting to see how that factors in, because Russia's kind of locked in to the space station project, the ISS project, right now, until it's done in 2030 or so.

16:04 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, or until they say they're done, until they say they have intimated a few times. Now we're going to leave next week. All right, we are going to go to a break because we live full, exciting lives and we'll be back in just a moment, so go nowhere. So let's talk about starliner. What is my, my favorite topics to malign? Thank God, you're an optimist.

16:26 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I am. I'm such an optimist that I have the t-shirt For folks that are just listening. I've got this. Atlas 5.

16:33 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Starliner. Stand up and display it for us. We'll see if I can stand up. Don't hurt yourself.

16:40 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Maybe I can. I don't have a lot of room here. I'll stand up a little bit, you can see. Maybe I can.

16:45 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Oh my gosh, I don't have a lot of room here, so I'll stand up a little bit. You can see Atlas, five Starliner. There you go. So, because we like to fly our capsules on rockets. We don't make anymore, that's cool.

16:54 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, no, they've got enough, at least for the NASA contract. Yeah, I think they stacked up.

16:59 - Rod Pyle (Host)
What did they say? Sixteen of them, or something They've got a bunch of Atlas's left.

17:03 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, because it's not just, it's not just for NASA. Ula has to have the United Launch Alliance has to have the Atlas. Five rockets for all of their commits, for the government, for their customers and then also for for Starliner, of which they need at least six. So I will seven actually, because this is this crew. This, this upcoming flight, is the crew flight test, not to be confused with the operational six missions that they have to deliver.

17:30 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So please expand on that. That'll be our kickoff, so we have an upcoming flight in just a few days. That's right, knock wood work in foot here. Here we go.

17:43 - Tariq Malik (Host)
So basically, after oh my gosh, it seems like nearly a decade of you know selection a decade?

17:51 - Rod Pyle (Host)
oh, that's right, it's been 12 years, no in 2012, I think. What was it that?

17:55 - Tariq Malik (Host)
oh my gosh. Yeah, so spacex is one of two companies that nasa picked to be uh, their commercial crew, their space taxi, uh services for astronauts on the International Space Station. They were picked alongside Boeing, was picked alongside SpaceX for a certain number of flights. It's like a block number. So Boeing has six flights to fly and SpaceX I think it's like 14. Well, they had six, and then it got expanded.

18:25 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But I think what's important here. So this was first kind of uh toss down was originally in 2010, but I think contracts landed later. But what I enjoyed, oh so much, was that nasa and the government turned to spacex and say we're going to give you 2.6 billion dollars over time. That's right. Spacex went, yay, and then they turned to boeing, who's been at it much longer and and actually built much more of this kind of hardware at the time, and said we're going to give you 4.2 billion dollars well, well to be, just to be clear yes, right because there is a very clear disconnect there.

19:01 - Tariq Malik (Host)
those, those awards were based on bids that the companies put in. So SpaceX put in the bid of $2.6 billion for the service that they said they were going to give, and then Boeing put in their bid as well. And the reason that's important is because the decision process did get released. I'm not sure if we're going to talk about it here, but Gwen Shotwell said that if she had known what Boeing was going to bid, she would have bid a lot higher for their version of the contract, because it's essentially the same service and also SpaceX was able to get there faster and whatnot, which is interesting, given that they got almost half the money, that they arrived there quicker.

19:45 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But I do understand what you're saying about, about Gwynn and company and, of course, if you could bid higher and still think you'd get the job, you would. I'm just saying, as an external observer, I admire the fact that they got there and beat the pants off of Boeing, quite frankly, for almost half the money. I mean, that shows something about commitment, it shows something about innovation, it shows something about their vertical manufacturing capability and probably as much as anything and this is not a knock on Boeing at all, it's actually, you know my sympathies not being shareholder owned.

20:22 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I think there's a huge difference and I, I think, I think, I think you're you're right on all those points here. So, uh, for, for just to kind of set the stage, the reason that we're talking about starliner is because in what? In just over 10 days or so, about 10 days on may 6th, uh is when uh boeing will launch their first crude uh flight tests a crew c-r, c-r-e-w-e-d.

Just so that I make sure that people don't think that I'm kind of knocking them. This is their first astronaut flight for NASA. It has two astronauts aboard that we'll talk about later Veterans both and it follows two previous uncrewed flight tests OFT-1, orbital Flight Test 1, which flew in 2019, which was not a success, and orbital flight test two, which flew in 2021. Is that about right? 2022. 2022. Which was a success for the most part. But then there was a substantial bit of redesign work that was required to get the crewed version ready. The crew arrived yesterday, so they are on tack and in fact this week, nasa and Boeing I keep wanting to say SpaceX, because they fly so many astronauts all the time but NASA and Boeing gave the green light, essentially the go, in their flight readiness review meeting, actually yesterday as well last evening to say that they're ready to go and that's a really big milestone because it means that's why we're having this podcast discussion now. It means that Boeing is finally ready to fly astronauts.

The launch is going to be out of Space Launch Complex I believe it's 41 at Cape Canaveral, a Space Force station, with a liftoff time on a Monday night May 6th is a Monday at 10, I think it's 54 pm. Make sure that that's correct. But it's in the evening. It's just before 11 o'clock at night. Interesting for a first crewed flight that they're picking a nighttime launch because you would think they would want as much. But that's how the mechanics work sometimes when they pick these flights themselves. So it's been a long road for Starliner, a long road, and they're finally where they are. Now. There are some final I's to dot, some final T's to cross. They're looking at making sure they understand all of the little ins and outs of the vehicle. They're weighing some parachute studies just to make sure that everything is ready to go. But they are confident that they'll be ready to go and they're starting to look at the weather and everything for the launch. We'll get more news on that next weekend as they get closer to the flight itself.

22:58 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But that's where we are right now. By golly, if I was an astronaut, I would want them to be concerned about the parachute shrouds for sure. I just would like to back up a step and mention that the commercial crew was first proposed in 2010. And they wanted at least two providers so that they weren't dependent on just one system to get uh to get astronauts up to the international space station. Because, of course, at that point you're phasing out the shuttle and we knew we're going to be spending a number of years shoveling money into, so use capsules in russia to send uh, more and more money to send our astronauts up to the space station that we primarily paid for and uh that started at there was a huge. I think it started at $36 million and ended up at $86 million. Have I got that right?

23:46 - Tariq Malik (Host)
It went, yeah, it went up. It was insane, it went up. It went up. When I started, you know, midway through that program, I think the cost for a seat on Soyuz was on the average of $70 million by that point. This is like 2000,. You know, the program had been going on for a number of years and it swelled up to to nigh on $90 million a seat on a on a Soyuz vehicle.

24:15 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And a capsule that barely has enough elbow room for you to blow your nose. I mean, it's really really crowded in there, which, which is not a factor, but nonetheless it it the promise was was strained, if not broken, and and it became a very abusive relationship, and we know those aren't good.

24:27 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Because there was no other choice, right, the space shuttle retired in 2011. And now there's this eight-year gap, or whatever it was, nine-year gap, where you don't have an option. And the sad part is you knew it was coming, rod. I knew that the gap was coming. It's why, in 2004, they said they were going to have a replacement up in time for that gap, and then they had nothing, because they never funded all of the development for what became.

24:57 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, they being Congress.

24:58 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, Congress pardon me, Congress didn't fund it properly and so you never got the rockets and the spacecraft that NASA said that they properly, and so you never got the rockets and the spacecraft that NASA said that they needed.

25:07 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And so you end up having this gap.

25:08 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And so they want to avoid that in the future.

25:10 - Rod Pyle (Host)
The original contract included Sierra Nevada, who ultimately was not selected. They just selected SpaceX and Boeing and, as we pointed out, gave unequal distribution of funds. As you point out, that's what they asked for, so that's what they got. Unequal distribution of funds, as you point out, that's what they asked for, so that's what they got. I still got to say, though, you know, I'm impressed with the speed and the success that SpaceX had in a very short period of time, because it is hard to build these things.

25:36 - Tariq Malik (Host)
It is, but you know what?

25:38 - Rod Pyle (Host)
We've been doing this since 1960.

25:41 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And I want you to really make it clear.

There is a reason why there was a lot of confidence in, you know, in 2012 or so, in Boeing Boeing there because of the track record Boeing primary or a major contractor on the International Space Station, major contractor on space shuttle work, major contractor in all space space shuttle work, major contractor in all space Saturn V, Exactly exactly, and so there is a legacy of performance that is included in the decision-making about. Yes, this is a contractor we've worked with for many, many years, so they will have, they get that kind of benefit right, Whereas SpaceX was at that time, you know, they didn't launch, they hadn't even landed a rocket, right for reuse.

Let alone, you know, flying anything crew rated. You know they had a lot of claims for that and so that's kind of the environment. It's hard to look back now, because SpaceX just landed their 300th rocket this week, you know so, to try to compare them as apples and apples. But you know they had a little bit of a flipped comparison back then because SpaceX was still relatively new in the flight rate. I think they were only five years into Falcon 9 launches by that point. Well, by the time their contract was awarded, years into Falcon 9 launches. By that point what? By the time their contract was awarded? Well, between 2004 to 2012, they had launched Falcon 1 and I think Falcon 1 succeeded until 2008,.

27:15 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So Falcon 9 was, yeah, still kind of just crawling along.

27:18 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Because the first one was in 2010,.

27:20 - Rod Pyle (Host)
right, something around that time, yeah, so this was a huge vote of confidence on the part of Charlie Bolden and, frankly, enabled and championed by Lori Garber, without whom it probably wouldn't have happened Alright. Well, we've got a lot more to discuss about this and we'll do that right after this break. So, to continue the comparison, spacex has flown crew. They're coming up on what? Eight, eight, eight flights, right?

27:47 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I think they've flown the crew eight flight, the crew eight mission, the crew eight astronauts are up there right now. Yeah, okay, so seven or eight.

27:55 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So so that you know, if you're Boeing, you've got a long way to go. And oh, by the way, I to mention that boeing was also considered, uh, in addition to commercial crew. They were, uh, considered for the commercial resupply or commercial cargo contract, but uh, I don't, I don't know which side backed out of that. It wasn't clear. The article I was looking at, I think it was intimated that was nasa that said, yeah, we'll just let you do crew. But that might be because they were letting them build the SLS as well. I suppose that's always a factor. But Boeing is scheduled for six flights, spacex for a total of 14. And we expect SpaceX's contract to be extended. So I guess the big question and I'm jumping ahead of myself here, but the big question for me is will Boeing fly out their six flights and say, okay, never again with a space capsule? Or will they, you know, pick it up and say, oh, this is an okay business, let's keep going?

28:50 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, it's very funny that you mentioned that because that was a question that was hot on all of the reporters' minds. Yesterday during the flight readiness review. Mark Knappe, boeing's kind of project lead for Starliner, did confirm things that he has said before and that John Shannon, former NASA space shuttle official, now at Boeing too, have both said that the business. Well, john Shannon said, I think recently, like last year, that the business case is kind of they have to see what it is for Starliner. But Mark Naby said both this week and back in March when Boeing and NASA kind of rolled out the red carpet to the public at Johnson Space Center to kind of go through all of the different stages, that Boeing is super committed right now to the Starliner program for NASA, to commercial crew for NASA and in a microcosm, to crew flight test one, this one mission.

They said just yesterday that the lives of the astronauts Sonny Williams and Butch Wilmore are at stake and they take it super seriously and so that's what they're saying they're focused on. They do have the Atlas V rockets to fly them out. They have the Starliner vehicles. I think they're building the third one, they're in the middle of building the second one right now and they're prepping materials for the fourth vehicle. I believe is what they said back in March. That being said, they're committed to that. They're not saying any other additional use for it, not, which is different than what we're seeing with spacex well, and which is a change what they originally said, which was exactly saw multiple use cases for this thing in fact, but that's not entirely their fault.

30:36 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I think part of that's because space tourism, while it has grown from zero, which is where it was, it's not quite what they had hoped. Maybe.

30:44 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, and just to give our listeners a bit of a refresher, NASA was not the only customer that Boeing was targeting for Starliner, and we should point out that Starliner is like the kind of public relations name it was originally billed as the CST-100, Commercial Space Transport 100, so number one, basically. And their other tenant, their commercial tenant, was at the time Bigelow Aerospace, which was led by Las Vegas-based hotel magnate Robert Bigelow. He was developing inflatable space station habitats.

He launched two private ones called Genesis one and Genesis two and in fact, a private room, a private inflatable room to the space station, which is still up there now, even though the company itself closed down during the pandemic and just kind of you know, went away. I believe it's assets were picked up by, and and know how, by Sierra space and a few others that are developing inflatable habitats.

Anyway the whole point was that Robert Bigelow was going to build private space stations and they needed a way to get there, and Boeing was building a way to get there and they were going to kind of combine to have a private approach for scientists, for the public et cetera to do it. And so you had those two different services and that private one kind of fell behind because, like you were saying, the space tourism push on the space station front did slow tremendously and it hasn't been realized even now. Right, there aren't private space stations, there's a lot planned but and Boeing may still decide that they want to get into that later on uh, if they have the atlas boosters or some other booster, they could pop a, uh, pop a starliner on top of yeah, and it is designed.

32:35 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So just let's talk a little bit about starliner and then we'll we'll jump to another break. It is designed to fly primarily on the atlas 5, but can also fly on the vulcan, and I suppose was there ever any talk about it flying on um spacex rockets.

32:52 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I think that if they had like a need, they would figure out a way. That's an ad, that's an adapter question. Right, and we have seen the precedent for that with Northrop Grumman and the Cygnus spacecraft. Right, because that was designed to fly on Ontario's rockets. They're redesigning the Ontario's rocket to, you know, have a U? S engine and so now they're flying the Cygnus vehicles on SpaceX rockets. And so I, if they, if they had a need case and they found like a financial partnership that was agreeable to them, you can bet that boeing would figure out a way to uh, to get there so and it's it's slightly bigger than the dragon at 390 cubic feet.

33:30 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I think dragon is 335 and the apollo capsule was about 240 cubic feet, I think yeah square feet. I'm at cubic feet, so this is significantly larger. And, of course, uh, I think you've been inside a dragon I've been inside a starliner mock-up.

33:48 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, they it.

33:49 - Rod Pyle (Host)
It feels I've been inside the dragon, not the starliner but but it feels big enough on the ground to us. But if you're in space and you're floating around, everybody that experiences that says, oh, it's a lot bigger when you're weightless and one thing thing that Boeing has said is that they have a novel seat stow system, which SpaceX does not.

34:08 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Those seats just stay there. You know, on Crew Dragon they're fixed seats, but Starliner is supposed to have these collapsible seats and I remember them specifically saying that we were not allowed to take video or images of how the seats could fold or even like how they're set up, because apparently, like it's really proprietary at that point in time, uh, just because they wanted to kind of keep that part secret, uh, but it's supposed to give them a lot more room, uh, inside and it does have impressive, but it's not doing anybody any good on the ground.

34:39 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I I'm sorry.

34:40 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I just had to say that.

34:41 - Rod Pyle (Host)
All right.

34:48 - Tariq Malik (Host)
One other thing that I would point out, both for Starliner as well as for Dragon when we're talking about comparison, is that they were originally designed to carry more people than they're going to carry.

The original commercial crew was up to seven, because the whole plan would be they would have seven people or seven US segment personnel on the space station at a time. They would need a way for all of them to be able to get out in an emergency. Now we see the station having max compliments of about seven or so, but both SpaceX and Boeing's vehicles are going to carry on the average four people per flight. And then the rest. You know those, those three other potential human body slots. You, you save for cargo, for supplies, for the other things that you wanted to deliver to the space station, and you can still do more of that than you could on a Soyuz.

35:40 - Rod Pyle (Host)
All right, we are going to take a short break on the stories. So, all right, we are going to take a short break and when we come back, tarik, I want you to talk about some of the problems they've had, which include the arrow skirt, the need for an arrow skirt, which wasn't originally there, and, uh, a mile of flammable wire, wrapped tape, yes, parachutes, and can I say it, with a drum roll, well, software and valves. Valves are a big one, many, many valves. Okay, we'll be right back, stand by. So let's talk about the, the issues with starliner, because there have been many, many delays, many issues, and you know, it's, it's, it's. I wouldn't call it quite ironic, I guess I'd call it indicative. But these problems kind of seem to be running temporally, time wise, and parallel roughly with 737 max issues, and a lot of industry observers feel that this kind of was predicated by Boeing's move of management away from Seattle to Kansas City was predicated by Boeing's move of management away from Seattle to Kansas City.

36:45 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, you know, it was very interesting to see the kind of what was that? The symmetry between the troubles that Boeing had with the Starliner development and the test flights in particular, and, of course, the tragic issues that they had with the 737 MAX, where you had those fatal crashes, the investigation, um and uh and all of that uh and, and I, I, I think that it was a very hard lesson to learn. It does sound, at least from the way that we're, we're hearing from from boeing, in these, uh, these announcements and uh and these. These lead up to this, this recent mission, as well as to the last test flight, oft2, the second, the kind of redo of their first test flight. On their money, by the way. Yeah, on their money.

37:30 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Yeah, they had to pay for all of it. Taxpayer, relax, you didn't have to pay for that one.

37:34 - Tariq Malik (Host)
They did get, I think, a little bit of extra NASA money to kind of hold them over, but they seem to be a lot more um, careful and a lot more in depth in the, the testing, and it's why they kept finding new things, uh, between all these test slides, you know, instead of just kind of pushing, pushing through them. Uh, you know the you mentioned the, the arrow skirt that was, uh, it's, it's kind of like a ring that goes around the bottom of the capsule, it it look kind of like a, like a, looks like a round cheese grater exactly got a bunch of holes drilled in it and that's that's that's designed because they they realize that the spacecraft needs a little bit, a little bit more stability during flight, so that doesn't buff it around.

As I understand it, I mean, is that your, your take?

38:17 - Rod Pyle (Host)
to run. Yeah, and I think. I think air was spilling around the the edges, because the capsule's wider than the top of the rocket by a fair margin. So my understanding is that air was spilling around it and banging into the booster.

38:33 - Tariq Malik (Host)
So they had to develop that and then, when it came to, so that was one, but it took them a long time to figure out all this stuff and in December of 2019, that was the first crude flight. That was one of the. You know to the public, the first big issue came to light because when they launched that mission and I was on an airplane when you know, going back to visit family for the holidays when that happened and you know, I think they were like two minutes away from launch as we took off and I was like, well, it looks like everything's fine and by the time we landed, it was like the mission is irrecoverable. You know, we're never going to get to the space station because they had a flight software issue that they hadn't. Boeing had developed portions of the flight software, like the part to get off the ground, the part for spacecraft separation, the part for these rendezvous, but they hadn't tested it from start to finish, all the way to the end, and because of that, it just didn't gel properly.

39:33 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, there was an 11-hour shift in its timing clock, so it thought, rather than being at docking, I think it was preparing to reenter, which is not what you want to do when you're headed for the space station.

39:45 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And then there was also another thing that they found in the ensuing investigation for that. So by the time they got to orbit they were not on a flight path that could reach the space station. So the mission was called off and it landed a few days later back on the ground. We'll talk about landing in a bit.

40:00 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But let me just ask. I actually saw an article I don't remember if it was Spacecom or Space News that referred to that first test flight as, in effect, being suborbital, which was not my understanding. They were at orbital velocities. They were at orbital velocities because they had to actually do a reentry burn.

40:18 - Tariq Malik (Host)
They just thought it was doing a suborbital mission. They thought it was coming back to earth.

40:22 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Yeah, so, that was weird.

40:24 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Cause they they orbited the earth for a few days before coming back to earth. They just couldn't get to the space station because of of the issues that they had had. But they also found a second issue in in the staging process, you know, in the software, that could have led to the spacecraft actually getting hit by the booster after separation because of the issues, and they narrowly avoided that, which was, you know, a big, a big dodge. And Boeing has said that the computer software issue that they had had in that first flight, that that's something that if they had had a crew on board they would have been able to flick some buttons. Hey, this is not correct, we're going to push this in. And they would have actually been able to do that. So that is actually, I think, an important point to put. It's good to know, but should they have to yeah.

41:14 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I mean, really, you know it's sorry to interrupt, but this is something that we, the big collective, we the American side of things, have been doing since 1960, 61. It's well understood. I know that the money is less than it was during the space age, I get that. But you know, testing your software was seen to be pretty basic, just like and I'm not being glib here, but just like making sure that your valves don't rust and corrode because they're exposed to humidity and have hypergolic fuels behind them when they're going to be sitting in Florida for weeks at a time on a launch pad right next to the ocean.

So this is what I think has me and a lot of other people scratching their heads. You know, if you've worked at a big corporation, if you've ever been a president of a company or an upper management, you know that there's always more to this than meets the eye, including human factors. You know Cindy and Fred don't get along. So the next thing, you know, something goes wrong because somebody is trying to make somebody look bad. I mean, all kinds of stuff can happen. I'm not saying anything specific, I'm just saying there are weaknesses in the human management and performance chain to consider. But you know, for Boeing and Rocketdyne to have to get into an arm wrestling match over who's going to pay for making valves that won't corrode when they're exposed to sea air which is not the proven reason, but it's the suspected one is weird when you've been doing this for well over half a century.

42:46 - Tariq Malik (Host)
You're really on this valve thing. We haven't even gotten there yet and you're really on.

42:49 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, but because we had that problem with 13 valves, that's a bunch either not opening or not opening fully during that run-up to that test flight.

43:00 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, to the second test flight, right yeah which is nuts, yeah.

So this is another issue that I think I'm going to skip ahead to this one, just because, just because I'm beating on it like nobody's doing this. So that was one thing, and that was a very hard lesson for Boeing to learn, and I'm going to say that they've learned it, because here we are, you know, less than two weeks away from a crewed flight, with everything barely signed off at this point. It's a painful lesson to learn, but they did learn that and that was, I think. I suspect that it was very much an operational thing that Boeing thought that, you know, it would be fine to test the software in these little micro bits because you know, if it checks out there, it should check out together. But you would hope that eventually they would do an end-to-end run. Now they do that right, at least as much as they can for the new ones, for OFD2,.

Now they had to actually go back to redo that test flight because they said they were going to do an uncrewed test flight before they do a crude flight, and that was what they flew in 2022. It took them nearly three years. Now I don't, it took them two years and like a month, basically because that first one was in December when they were ready to fly, but they had a lot of issues because it was on the pad for so long and, as you mentioned, they had these valves that all got stuck and it kept delaying the flight. They hadn't, I think. No, maybe because they did try to launch and then they, they, they scrubbed the launch because they had the stuck valve and then they went in and then it took a long time. They had to replace the valves themselves and and whatnot to to get through it Now themselves and whatnot to get through. Now they've got a valve redesign. This is what Boeing has said recently that they expect to implement on the Starliner, I believe three missions, or Starliner two. So Starliner one, the operational flight and this flight don't have the new valves, they just have ones that they know shouldn't corrode over time.

But they found out that those valves were susceptible to corrosion when they're on the pad or just in the ocean environment off the coast of Florida, which is where Cape Canaveral is, on the middle of the state, over a long period of time, and so that was an unwelcome surprise.

But you were talking about SpaceX earlier. Do you remember those early Falcon flights had to fly out of Amalek Island out in the middle of the Pacific, and corrosion was a really big challenge for them too, in that harsh kind of sea environment too. You know, this is something that can happen, and and and I think it's kind of, it's kind of like kicking them while they're down to say, hey, we've been launching these things for like decades, and and why can't they build one that is, you know, that can't survive it? You know, at the end of the day, they, they, they have been and the sea will do what the sea does, which is kind of eat away at everything, right, and and so you know, I think that they, they know now, know what they have to do to fix it, and the new ones will will have that going forward.

46:09 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Okay, let me just we have to go to an ad, but let me just add two points. Uh, when spacex had those problems in 2008, their brand new rocket company, about uh, six years old, who had never done this before, working with guys who were you, you know, they were engineers, but they were kind of amateurs largely in terms of this kind of business, as opposed to having built rockets since 1960, as I keep beating on. So I just will give them that, not being a SpaceX fanboy, just saying you know you expect I think what I'm getting at here and then I'll I'll give it up is you know, there should be this, this load of experience that comes along with being a long-spanning, major, old school aerospace contractor that's built fighter planes, that's built fighter planes, that's built the B-17, that's built rockets. You've built the 747, for God's sake, and very well, by the way. I mean, they were an incredible company for decades and then to be brought down by stuff that seems this obvious to people like us is kind of embarrassing.

47:18 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I get it, I get it, rod, I get it. But remember, it's not just Boeing, right? There's a reason why it took 18 years to build a new rocket at NASA, when this is the company that put people on the moon and built three different types of crewed spacecraft on three different launch systems within nine years, and then it took 18 years to just build a new rocket. It's, there's, there's, it's a. It's a very similar story. Yeah, but who built?

47:46 - Rod Pyle (Host)
that new rocket.

47:48 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, okay.

47:50 - Rod Pyle (Host)
All right, all right. So let me just one more correction. Boeing ULA have set aside seven Atlas rockets to fly out the contract. So I guess that's just for the four star liner.

48:02 - Tariq Malik (Host)
It's six operational flights to one crewed flight.

48:05 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Okay, we will be right back. Go nowhere, cue it up, buddy.

48:10 - Tariq Malik (Host)
All right, we have one more big, big hurdle that I wanted to make sure that we mentioned, because this is one that actually came up after that second test flight and I think we agreed it was 2022. I have to go back and read. And that was the fact that Boeing and NASA did announce that when they were doing final checks. Actually, there were two other issues. Number one was a parachute issue. The loading was incorrect on the earlier flights and that if there was an issue where one of the the parachutes on the re-entry for Starliner didn't deploy the, the lines weren't weren't rated to handle the weight in an off nominal situation. So they had to do a parachute redesign, which they have done.

But that took a lot of extra time, you know, to to to build in, which is why the mission's been delayed a bit since last year. And then they found out after the fact and this one, I think, is a little egregious and I agree with you, Rod, in terms of like they should have known better they found out that the tape, the Kapton-type tape that they have in a lot of the wiring on the inside of the spacecraft, was flammable after they built the spacecraft and so they had to go in A mile of it. A mile, A mile of tape, 5,280 feet of tape in that inside.

Yeah, yeah.

49:32 - Rod Pyle (Host)
It's one of the Look at you and your imperial measurement memory.

49:37 - Tariq Malik (Host)
That and the fact that the space shuttle had 44 Vernier jets, rcs thrusters with, I think how many parts were in the Saturn? Five, okay, well, no, okay, I might've hit my limit and so and so. So, so that is something that they had to deal with and it takes a lot of time to go into the spacecraft and rip that stuff out. Make sure that what you can't rip out is going to be safe and covered. So and Mark Nappy did say that I had to rip out a whole mile of it, like you said, and then go back in. It just adds a lot of time. It's something that you wish you wouldn't have had to do and would have figured that part out in the first place to avoid it all. But they've got it licked now.

50:20 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And so the way you said that was kind of cute, something you wish you had figured out, you know, before you built the spacecraft.

50:30 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And now we have a veteran crew and it's a very different crew than the one that was named at the outset and I want to point that out so we can talk about that too. But we have two veterans of both space station and space shuttle flight Butch Wilmore as the commander and Sunita Williams Sunny Williams as the pilot for this mission and they're in space In Florida right now at the Kennedy Space Center. They arrived yesterday in a T-38 jet along with their backup crew, mike Fink, and they're just, you know, going through their last days, I guess, on Earth, ahead of that launch themselves. Wait, that doesn't sound right. Well, no, I didn't mean it in that way, and you know I didn't mean it in that way.

51:16 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Before the liftoff the last thing I don't know't know, the rapture hold on to something. Uh, yes, and they're both seasoned flyers, uh, they both have military experience, and they were preceded, however, by uh, chris ferguson, yeah, who was there waiting his turn for a long time and finally he said look, I'm I. I can't, I can't wait for this, I'm not going to do it that's right.

51:43 - Tariq Malik (Host)
You know, uh, former nasa space shuttle commander, uh, chris ferguson was, you know, when he retired from nasa, he went to boeing and he became, like their chief, uh, uh, astronaut advisor. You know, helping with the layout of the, the switches, and they have switches on the starliner, if memory serves right, which is nice and visceral. You love pushing a button and toggling a switch.

52:06 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, as opposed to what you're referring to as glass panel, exactly, mostly glass panel controls on Dragon, although they do have switches for critical functions, but yeah.

52:14 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Exactly, and the original crew for crew flight tests was actually three people. It was Nicole Mann and Mike Fink of NASA, and and then Chris Ferguson as, like the Boeing astronaut. And then, when the crew flight kept getting delayed and delayed, chris Ferguson eventually retired from Boeing, you know, because you know he wanted to spend time with his family and whatnot, I would assume. And Nicole Mann was slated to be on an expedition on the space station. So she got shifted to a SpaceX Dragon launch, because they were flying pretty regularly by then, and she went and flew that mission and Mike Fink ended up dropping back to backup crew with Barry Butch, wilmore and Sunita Williams then joining on as prime for this one and he is on Starliner 1 as the commander. So that's the operational mission.

And then that whole other crew that Starliner 1 mission also got jogged around. Josh Quesada was named for that, as well as Jeanette Epps, nasa astronauts. Both of them have already flown. In fact, jeanette Epps just launched on the spacex rocket on crew eight. Um, so a lot of juggling because of the delays that cause these crew switches. But sonny williams and barry wilmore uh, they've been kind of the core for the last couple years now and, um and they've been training and they're, they're getting all ready for it just some some notes on the two of them.

53:36 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Uh, barry slashch Wilmore has a more traditional kind of background. I guess he had the shuttle flight and the Soyuz flight to the ISS, so two missions up there. He was a Navy test pilot in jets and known to most of us more recently by being the guy who ordered up the 3D printed ratchet wrench in space, which I never could figure out. How you do that in plastic, but there you go. Senita Williams was also a test pilot, but in helicopters and rotary winged aircraft, which is something you don't see in the astronaut corps very often. Many of them are rated on helicopters but that's not their principal thing. She had a shuttle on a Soyuz flight as well. Formerly held the record for women for the most spacewalks at seven and the most spacewalk time at 50 hours 40 minutes. Of course these records are there to be broken, um, but I think meaningfully ran the first space marathon aboard the iss, which is a lot of time on the steven colbert treadmill that's.

54:36 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Oh no, I don't think it was that treadmill either that she ran the boston marathon on, like the older treadmill that they used to have, I think, um, and I remember that was like a whole big thing they had to make sure that the treadmill would be able to handle a continuous continuous uh marathon and, if memory serves, because she has quite long hair too, I believe when she launched on that flight, on on that expedition, that she donated her hair before flying to like one of those causes that makes the hair for cancer patients.

And I was really wondering. I was actually asking my team today. I was like I wonder if she might do that again for this mission too. But I guess we're going to find out.

55:14 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, I'll do it. Do you want to set up a special thing? Somebody wants silver hair.

55:19 - Tariq Malik (Host)
She was also the second woman to command the International Space Station, after Peggy Whitson, actually too. So these are not, you know, spring chickens in terms of or Johnny, come lately, if you will, says the guy who can't remember how old he is. Well, no, no, no, no. I'm not saying that they're old, I'm saying that're not like they're not like like, they're not newbies exactly.

They're not. They're not. They're not newbies, uh, when it comes to flying in space. Nor would you want them to right to be for the first test flight. And Mike Fink as well their backup uh and uh, and the Starliner one uh crew is another seasoned veteran of international space station flights. He's flown on Soyuz as well and so he also knows his stuff. He actually posted a picture of the launch site. They flew their T-38s over the launch site yesterday, as we're recording this, during their arrival to the Kennedy Space Station. So this is a very seasoned crew and I think if anyone, if you would want anyone on your Shakedown crew, these two are the ones that you would want. And in fact, when they, when they landed yesterday, they actually said that they are.

They. They're not expecting it to go 100 percent perfect, in fact, which Wilmore said, do we expect it to go perfectly? Well, hey, it's the first human flight of the space travel, so I'm sure we'll find things out. So what those things are, we don't know. But he said, and I quote that's why we do this.

56:48 - Rod Pyle (Host)
This is a test flight, and when you do test, you expect to find things, and so, whatever those things are, it sounds like Butch is on the case and may I just say, having worked in and out of public relations, that sounds like a little bit of a prompt, but OK, because that's what they're there for Right, not exactly. And the public relations people?

57:13 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And well, and Sonny Williams said that they've been training for every single thing they could possibly think of. She said, and I quote, that they had the kitchen sink thrown at them in all of the different simulations that they've been doing. So that you know, it gives her a lot of confidence that they're ready to fly.

57:23 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But Elon carries around the kitchen sink. That's right.

57:26 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, but that's only, that's only for Tesla electric cars, right? No?

57:30 - Rod Pyle (Host)
it was a Twitter. Oh Twitter. Yeah, you're right. Wandered in there was very funny and the rest of us kind of looked at it like what's wrong with you, dude?

57:38 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I had just put the fact that he owns twitter out of my mind, and now it's back in the front yeah, sorry about your mind, so let's wrap up with, uh, just a sketch of the mission.

57:49 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I have it down for a suggested launch I thought it's may 5th, but I have may 6th or 7th for an eight-day mission, yeah, which will uh, land on land. This is not a splashdown. This will come down to the southwest United States, which is another interesting thing. Now, originally the Crew Dragon was supposed to come down either on be able to do hard land landings or oceanic, and my recollection is that Musk's just decided it was a bridge too far for them and not to try for the dry land landing, because you have to have airbags and you have to have breaking rockets.

58:26 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, dragon was going to have legs. Actually it would have. It would use breaking rock.

58:30 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Oh, that was it yeah, yeah, the full, the full thing, because it's reusable.

58:33 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, you want that so this, this is a short flight. This is the the crew flight. This is a very short flight. It's's a one-week mission, eight days. Like you said, it launches at night because of what it takes to get to the space station on May 6th, so that like very late at night, overnight, and it will fly up. I think it'll take them about like a day and a half or so to get to the space station.

While they do some shakedowns, they dock at the space station. To the space station. While they do some shakedowns, they dock at the space station, that's. You know, unlike some of the other cargo ships, like Cygnus, they don't get captured by an arm. Spacex did the same with Dragon. They upgraded it so that it can dock itself and doesn't need to be captured anymore, and then they will make sure that it's performing as expected at the space station. So they'll take a lot of measurements what's the cabin environment like? Is the life support working properly? What's the experience like for the astronauts on the whole thing? And then they'll undock and they'll return to Earth and they will land.

And this is interesting and vague, because NASA has said they will land in the southwestern United States. I don't know why. So dock and cover buddy, I don't know why. So duck and cover buddy, I don't know why they don't just say that they're going to land at White Sands in New Mexico, which is where they landed the OFD2, or they could say you know White Sands or Mojave, right, they could say that too, if they wanted to, to keep that as an option. At what is that? At Edwards Air Force Base, so, or is it Space Force Base? I'm not sure, but the case is that, like you mentioned, this can land on land and it will parachute down, it will deploy these big airbags to kind of cushion the final blow after the thrusters that we've seen with Soyuz in the past, and it worked fine.

01:00:19 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I wouldn't characterize it as final blow, but I get what you're saying.

01:00:23 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, the astronauts have described that land landing to me as like a car wreck, like a 10 mile an hour, like you crash into the other car. That's what it feels like and that's baseline. Feels like in in that. That's what they do. You know it's baseline, so I've simulated that.

01:00:42 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Actually, a friend and I had a car that we didn't care much for when we were in our late teens, early 20s, and just because we were young stupid men and that's what the young stupid men did at the time we deliberately ran it into a brick wall at about 10 miles an hour, with us in it with lap belts only, and I can tell you it's shocking, yeah yeah, and it didn't do much to the car because cars built like tanks those days.

01:01:06 - Tariq Malik (Host)
You could have. You could have joined the demolition Derby and had a much more exciting time driving backwards in a in a pit, you know and probably about the same amount of brain damage as I've got.

01:01:15 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So, uh, I have a note here If successful, this mission will test will fully test life support, manual maneuvering, flight and docking, and, if so, operational flights expected to start in 2025.

01:01:29 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, We'll see, we'll see, we'll see. For sure, I would like to know a few more things about the mission here, just because it is, as we talked about, a brand new vehicle and this is maybe a little kind of twee Rod. So please forgive me, but I'm very curious if Boeing will let the astronauts name their spacecraft, like because I seem to recall you worry about these things. I seem to recall that they did announce a name for the first one when OFT2 landed, but now I can't remember it offhand. Maybe Robert Perlman at Kalex.

01:02:05 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Space you should name it, billy.

01:02:07 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, and then the other question Juanita or something. Yeah, the other question there is are there going to be any new traditions for this spacecraft? Because there are new traditions for SpaceX about how they go out there and marvel at the rocket, how they go up to the thing.

01:02:23 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, let's hope they aren't the traditions the Russians have for when they launch their rocket. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

01:02:29 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Whatever, do you mean Rod at all? I don't know if we should enlighten that, because that feels very vague.

01:02:38 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, I think this is the kind of thing where we should have a contest. It's like okay, listeners, because you're falling down the job when it comes to sending space jokes. Not all of you, but most of you go ahead and send us what you know. No fair, looking it up. What is the tradition for Russian cosmonauts before they board any Russian spacecraft to go into space? It started back at the beginning of the program and we don't have any prizes, so you'll just get a nod.

01:03:04 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Can we give them a hint, though, because there's actually quite a lot. There's quite a lot of other things.

01:03:08 - Rod Pyle (Host)
The one that happens right at the launch pad.

01:03:09 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, the one between the bus ride out.

01:03:12 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Yeah, okay, don't get too specific, don't make it too easy All right, all right, all Are we done here?

01:03:18 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I think so. Mark your calendars space fans May 6th Hopefully not rain or shine. We'll see how this goes. Two final points. They are looking at the weather. They are also looking at weather for landing, because they need to make sure that they have good weather for re-entry landing too. And Mark Knappe, again of Boeing for Starliner program, said that this spacecraft is designed to stay at the space station for up to 40, 45, 48 days or so. They can stay up there in terms of consumables. So they've got about a month, month and a half of margin, depending on how long, and they don't expect that the mission is going to take that long at all.

01:04:03 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But we were talking about a mission that long and ultimately it's supposed to be able to stay there for six months.

01:04:07 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Oh yeah, for the operational flights for sure. So mark your calendars. You know plan to stay up late or get up super early, depending on your time zone, and hopefully we'll see something special with boeing and their first starliner crew flight I'll just call you the next day.

01:04:22 - Rod Pyle (Host)
All right, everybody. Thanks for joining us today for episode 108 of this week in space on boeing starliner. Don't forget to check out spacecom website, the name and the national space society. And it's us in ssorg tarik. Yes, tariq, where can we find you clutching your pearls over the Boeing launch?

01:04:47 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, you can find me at spacecom, as always, getting very excited for this flight. Our writer, elizabeth Howell please follow her on Twitter, howell Space she will be at the launch for us for this one, so it should be really, really exciting. And you can find me on the Twitter too, at Tarek J Malik. If you like space video games, sci-fi games, you can find me on the YouTube at SpaceTronPlays. That's all one word. And tonight you just might find me at the movie theater to go watch Alien, the Ridley Scott classic, because today, april 26th for this episode, is alien day. 45 years ago that movie came out and I'm gonna go take my teenage daughter to go see what a space horror classic, hopefully tonight and I.

01:05:33 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I read that I was gonna mention that. Thank you for doing so. I will just say if they were showing aliens in the theater, I'd be there to see it three times alien. I can kind of take a pass on because I've seen enough black cat movies. You know where they jump out from behind the the partition.

01:05:52 - Tariq Malik (Host)
As it's okay, though rod, because you know in space no one can hear you scream.

01:05:58 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Like yeah, um, okay, uh. And of course you can find me at pile bookscom or at Astro magazinecom. And if you're in or around Los Angeles, I'll be appearing more times than anybody wants me to at the international space development conference on May 23rd to 26, which track will not be coming to because he has other things to do. I know it's more of a weekend, I get it, we're bad, but I'll be all over the program there and winning my first major award in some time Well, at least major, yeah. So hey, if you're rolled by, come and say hello. And of course, you can always drop us a line at twist twittv. That's twis at twittv. We welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas, insults, jokes, rotten fruit, but don't put it in the mail, please. But we do like getting your comments. We mail, we answer each and every email you publish well, somebody needs to give me a new job New episodes of this podcast published every Friday on your favorite podcatcher.

So make sure to subscribe, tell your friends, give us reviews. We'll take five stars or better, please. And don't forget, you can get all the great programming with video streams on the Twit Network ad free, on Club Twit, only seven dollars a month. Even Tarik could afford that. Wow, they're only available there. You've heard Leo talk about the tough time facing podcasters. This is your chance to step up and be counted, so join us and ignore that car that just drove by behind me. You can also follow the Twit Tech Podcast Network at Twit on Twitter and a Facebook and Twittv on Instagram. Thank you everyone. Thank you, tarek. Happy birthday. You're almost as old as me now.

01:07:44 - Tariq Malik (Host)
See everybody next week. I love you man.

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