This Week in Space

Jun 7th 2024

This Week in Space 114

Starliners & Starships

Hosted by Rod Pyle, Tariq Malik

Boeing's Redemption, SpaceX's Ambition

New episodes posted every Friday.
Category: News

Well, we waited, we waffled, and we joked... but Boeing's Starliner finally made good! Seven or so years after their projected crewed flight date, the second provider of crew delivery to the International Space Station finally succeeded in sending two astronauts, Butch Wilmore and Sunita Williams, to the ISS. Despite a few problems with (sigh) valves, helium tanks, and thrusters, the mission appears to be going swimmingly. Then, just a day later, SpaceX launched a Starship on a fourth test flight with spectacular results--and may be ready for another test launch within a few weeks. All good news this week, and it feels like newspace just picked up a lot of steam. Join us!


  • China's Chang’e-6 mission successfully collected up to 2,000 grams of lunar samples from the far side of the moon and launched them back to Earth.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope faces gyroscope issues, prompting NASA to use only one gyroscope to extend its lifespan until around 2035.
  • A lava tube discovered on Mars near the Arsia Mons extinct volcano could potentially shelter future human habitats or host microbial life.
  • A new star, "Blaze Star" T Coronae Borealis, may appear in the night sky between now and September, becoming the first visible nova since 1946.

Main Topic - Starliner and Starship:

  • Boeing's Starliner successfully launched, rendezvoused, and docked with the International Space Station, despite some thruster and cooling system issues.
  • The mission marks the first time in decades that astronauts have launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on an Atlas V rocket.
  • Starliner's reusability and cost per seat are compared to SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.
  • SpaceX's Starship completed a successful test flight, with the Super Heavy booster and Starship vehicle performing well despite some heat shield damage during reentry.
  • The hosts discuss the progress and challenges of Starship development, including the recent cancellation of Yusaku Maezawa's “dearMoon” mission.
  • SpaceX's rapid launch cadence and plans for mass-producing Starship vehicles and engines are highlighted, along with the company's vision for catching Super Heavy boosters with the "Mechazilla" launch tower.

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