Ep 485: Docking, Refueling, and Transferring

It’s one thing to get to space. But once you’ve made it there, what do you want to do? You’ll probably want to dock with another space ship, deliver cargo, refuel. Today we’ll talk about how all that happens.

Ep 484: Transfer Orbits and Gravitational Assists

If you want to get around in the Solar System, you’ll want to take advantage of natural gravitational speed boosts and transfer orbits. Whether you’re heading to the outer Solar System or you want to visit the Sun itself, the planets themselves can help you in your journey.

Ep 483: Stopping in Space

It’s one thing to get from Earth to space, but sometimes you want to do the opposite. You want to get into orbit or touch down gently on the surface of a planet and explore it. How do spacecraft stop? And what does that even mean when everything is orbiting?

Ep 482: Alternative Ways to Space

Getting to space is all about rockets, but people are trying to figure out other methods that could carry payloads to orbit and beyond. Railguns, airplanes, tethers and more. Today we’ll talk about alternative methods of spaceflight.

Ep 480: Rockets pt. 2- Multi-stage Boosters

The vast majority of rockets are multi-staged affairs. Why is this? What makes this kind of rocket so successful? Today we look at the ins and outs of multi-stage rockets.

Ep. 478: Apollo 8 with Paul Hildebrandt

On Christmas Day, 1968 Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders became the first human being to see the far side of the Moon. Their mission, of course, was Apollo 8, the first time human beings had ever left Earth orbit and seen the far side of the Moon. Today we talk all about Apollo 8, with special guest Paul Hildebrandt, director of a new documentary about the mission.

Ep. 477: State of Exploration: Once and Future Moon

It’s been decades since humans set foot on the Moon. Well, it’s time to go back, in theory. Of course, we’ve heard this all before. What are the plans afoot to send humans back to the Moon this time. What hardware will we use, and what other strategies are in the works to make this happen?

Ep. 450: Inflatable Habitats

In order to live in space, we’ll need to live in a habitat that simulates the temperature, pressure and atmosphere of Earth. And one of the most interesting ideas for how to do this will be with inflatable habitats. In fact, there are a few habitats in the works right now, including one attached to the International Space Station.

Ep. 449: Robots in Space!

When you think of a robot, you’re probably imagining some kind of human-shaped machine. And until now, the robotic spacecraft we’ve sent out into space to help us explore the Solar System look nothing like that. But that vision of robots is coming back, thanks to a few new robots in development by NASA and other groups.

Ep. 420: FIRE!

One of the most dangerous things that can happen inside a spacecraft is fire. Seriously, it’s NASA’s worst nightmare, and for good reason. Fire acts differently in space, and astronauts are always on alert. Here’s why.

Ep. 414: Navigating Far

In our last episode, we talked about what it’ll take to navigate across the Solar System. In this episode we scale things up and speculate how future civilizations will navigate to other stars and even other galaxies.

Ep. 350: Space Ship One

SpaceShipOne is the spacecraft created by Scaled Composites to win the $10 million Ansari X-Prize in 2003. It was the first privately built spacecraft to reach 100 km in altitude, twice in two weeks, carrying the equivalent of 3 people. It’s the prototype of the upcoming SpaceShipTwo, created for Virgin Galactic to carry paying passengers into space.

Ep. 348: Places with Numbers: 2 Independence Sq (NASA HQ)

Although NASA is spread across the entire US, the headquarters is based right in Washington, DC. And the headquarters building is known as Two Independence Square. This is where past and future space policy for the agency was developed.

Ep. 340: Wernher von Braun

When the United States helped defeat Germany at the end of World War II, they acquired the German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun. He had already developed the German V2 rocket program, and went on to design all the major hardware of the US rocket program. This week, we talk about von Braun’s life and accomplishments.

Ep. 318: Escape Velocity

Sometimes you’ve just got to get away from it all. From your planet, your Solar System and your galaxy. If you’re looking to escape, you’ll need to know just what velocity it’ll take to break the surly bonds of gravity and punch the sky.

Ep. 300: What We've Learned in Almost 7 Years

We created Astronomy Cast to be timeless, a listening experience that’s as educational in the future as it was when we started recording. But obviously, things have changed in almost 7 years and 300 episodes. Today we’ll give you an update on some of the big topics in space and astronomy. What did we know back then, and what additional stuff do we know now?

Ep. 299: Space Stations, Part 4 — Future Space Stations

Sometimes a trilogy needs four parts. We’ve looked at the history and modern era of space stations but now it’s time to peer into the future at some space station concepts still in the works. Most of these will never fly, but the ideas are important. We can’t call ourselves a true space-faring civilization until humans live permanently outside the Earth.

Ep. 298: Space Stations, Part 3 — International Space Station

And now we reach the third part in our trilogy on space stations, with the largest vehicle ever assembled in space: the International Space Station. Launched in 1998, it now consists of 450 metric tonnes of modules, power systems and spacecraft and is regular host to a handful of astronauts from many countries.

Ep. 297: Space Stations, Part 2 — Mir

Last week we introduced the history of space stations and focused on the US and Soviet stations that were launched. This week we look at one of the longest running missions ever launched: Mir. From its launch and construction to its fiery finale, Mir helped both the Russians and the Americans extend their understanding of what it actually takes to live in space.

Ep. 296: Space Stations, Part 1 — Salyut and Skylab

It’s one thing to fly into space, and another thing entirely to live in space. And to understand the stresses and strains this puts on a human body, you’re going to need a space station. In this three-part series, we explore the past, present and future of stations in space, starting with the American Skylab and Russian Salyut stations.

Ep. 278: Animals in Space

We always think about humans in space, but the cold hard reality is that animals have always been first in space. First to fly, first to orbit, and sadly, first to die. Let’s learn about how our animal companions have been our trusty partners in space exploration, and let’s recognize their noble sacrifices over decades of experiments.

Recent Episodes