Main Engine Cut Off

Main Engine Cut Off
A short, weekly podcast about spaceflight, exploration, policy, and strategy in the modern era and near future.

T+140: Launch Protests and Lander Hopefuls
Nov 27 • 23 min
Blue Origin successfully protested the US Air Force’s RFP for the National Security Space Launch program, which will have big implications for the way the current round of contract awards plays out. NASA added five new providers to the Commercial Lunar…
T+139: RemoveDEBRIS with Richard Duke
Nov 21 • 38 min
Richard Duke from the Surrey Space Center joins me to talk about their RemoveDEBRIS mission, which launched last year and carried out 4 different tests focused on space debris removal and management.
T+138: Peter Beck, Founder of Rocket Lab
Oct 30 • 29 min
Peter Beck, Founder, CEO, and CTO of Rocket Lab, joins me to talk about what they’ve been up to with Electron and Photon, as well as some of their new offerings like ground station support through KSAT and Photon missions to the Moon.
T+137: Artemis Politics, United Lander Alliance
Oct 28 • 17 min
Artemis and international politics were on display on the first day of IAC 2019, followed by strange-yet-politically-minded partnerships on the second day.
T+136: Starship to GTO, SSO from Florida
Oct 12 • 17 min
A few bits of follow-up on Starship to GTO, the Bridenstine-Musk show at SpaceX HQ, and flying to polar orbits from Florida. Meetup alert! Sunday, October 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. Hang out with me, Jake, and a ton of amazing people of space the night…
T+135: Jake Robins on Starship
Oct 8 • 31 min
Jake Robins, host of WeMartians and my co-host on Off-Nominal, joins me for Part 2 of our conversation about SpaceX’s 2019 Starship update. Part 1 can be found over on WeMartians.
T+134: Headlines (with news on Orion, NEOCam, and more)
Sep 27 • 16 min
I’ve got a special preview of MECO Headlines for the main feed this week, with news on Orion, NASA’s FY2020 budget, NEOCam’s legacy, Starship, and more.
T+133: Kurt Klaus on CLPS
Sep 17 • 33 min
Kurt Klaus, Chair of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group’s Commercial Advisory Board, joins me to talk about NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, and the wider potential for commercial flights to the Moon and beyond.
T+132: SpaceX SmallSat Updates
Sep 12 • 10 min
SpaceX updated their SmallSat launch offering—dropping the price and increasing the number of flights. It certainly looks like they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the small launch market.
T+131: Andrew Rush, CEO of Made in Space
Aug 31 • 43 min
Andrew Rush, CEO of Made in Space, joins me to talk about their big new NASA contract for Archinaut One and the history, present, and future of in-space manufacturing.
T+130: SmallSat Launch Roundup
Aug 14 • 22 min
SmallSat was last week which meant a flurry of announcements. This year was launch heavy, so I break down some announcements from SpaceX, Arianespace, and Rocket Lab.
T+129: Steve Altemus and Dr. Tim Crain, Intuitive Machines
Aug 5 • 48 min
Steve Altemus, President & CEO, and Dr. Tim Crain, VP of Research & Development, from Intuitive Machines join me to talk about their Nova-C lander, the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, and their task order from NASA for a landing on the Moon in…
T+128: NASA Shuffles CLPS, Partners on Blue Moon and Starship
Aug 2 • 19 min
NASA terminated OrbitBeyond’s CLPS task order, opened CLPS up to more providers, and announced exciting partnerships with Blue Origin, SpaceX, and others.
T+127: Gateway Habitat, Starhopper, and ABL Space Systems
Jul 28 • 20 min
I share some thoughts on three important stories from this week: NASA quietly announced their intention to sole source the Gateway habitat to Northrop Grumman, Starhopper made its first flight, and Lockheed Martin invested in ABL Space Systems.
T+126: The NASA Ousters
Jul 18 • 18 min
Two top NASA human exploration leaders—Bill Gerstenmaier and Bill Hill—have been ousted from their positions. I break down what this means for NASA and its plans, where things could go from here, and ponder whether these changes really matter.
T+125: Andrew Jones
Jul 3 • 19 min
Andrew Jones returns to the show to update us on China’s various efforts. We talk Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2, the mysterious Long March 5 delay, and what the future of Chinese launch may look like.
T+124: Gateway Logistics Services, FY2020 NDAA, and Small GEO Satellites
Jun 20 • 24 min
NASA put out a draft RFP for Gateway Logistic Services, the House Armed Services’ Committee weighs in on the US Air Force launch contracting drama, and a new company building small geostationary satellites has emerged.
T+123: The Noosphere of Influence
Jun 10 • 25 min
NASA made a series of announcements about their ISS commercialization effort and the first Commercial Lunar Payload Services missions, and Firefly unveiled their Orbital Transfer Vehicle. And there’s a really interesting connection between all three…
T+122: National Security SpaceX Lawsuit
May 28 • 28 min
NSSL, LSA, OMG! Last week, SpaceX filed a lawsuit against the US Air Force over the Launch Service Agreement development contracts. We’re mere months away from bids being due for the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 launch contracts, so I figured…
T+121: Artemis, Blue Moon, Starship, and Politics
May 17 • 26 min
NASA and the White House released a summary of the FY2020 budget amendment this week, alongside the new name: Project Artemis. I talk through some political fallout, what the future may hold, and the chaos elements that are Blue Moon and Starship.
T+120: Dr. Mike Baine, Axiom Space
May 7 • 47 min
Dr. Mike Baine, Chief Engineer of Axiom Space, joins us to talk through Axiom’s plans for commercial low Earth orbit space stations.
T+119: Dr. John Charles
Apr 18 • 52 min
Dr. John Charles spent nearly 33 years at NASA—most recently as Chief Scientist of the Human Research Program—working on human spaceflight through Shuttle, Mir, ISS, and beyond. He lead missions such as STS-95 (John Glenn’s Shuttle flight), STS-107, and…
T+118: Rapid Agile Launch Initiative
Apr 8 • 23 min
Last week, the US Air Force announced and expounded on the Rapid Agile Launch Initiative. Along with the new initiative, the new era of small launch is finally here, so it’s worth discussing a bit.
T+117: Q&A
Apr 2 • 28 min
This month we talk EM-1, Moon by 2024, the commercialization of LEO, and more.
T+116: On the Moon by 2024
Mar 28 • 21 min
The National Space Council met this week and Vice President Pence announced the administration’s intentions to see humans land on the moon by 2024. I break down my thoughts and observations coming out of the meeting.
T+115: Caleb Henry
Mar 18 • 47 min
T+114: EM-1 Hot Drama with Eric Berger
Mar 13 • 46 min
Eric Berger of Ars Technica joins me to talk about the latest in SLS Hot Drama: the 2020 budget request and a Bridenstine appearance in the Senate that might just go down in history. This week, NASA has proposed flying the three prime missions of SLS on…
T+113: Q&A
Mar 1 • 32 min
This month, we talk the GEO slowdown, the LEO boom, and as always, take on some fun launch vehicle questions.
T+112: SLC-20, SPD-4, and a Soyuz Soapbox
Feb 27 • 15 min
Firefly Aerospace is taking over Space Launch Complex 20, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive-4, and NASA is looking to buy more Soyuz seats, even though they always say it’s too late to do that.
T+111: SpaceX, the Established Launch Provider
Feb 21 • 30 min
A tale of politics, protests, and contracts tells the story of how SpaceX is in transition—and maybe has already transitioned—from a scrappy upstart to an established launch provider.
T+110: Starship, New Glenn, and RS1 Updates
Feb 11 • 22 min
ABL Space Systems announced some changes to RS1, Blue Origin broke ground in Huntsville and signed a new customer, and SpaceX has been making steady progress on Starship.
T+109: Q&A
Feb 2 • 39 min
We cover a lot of ground in this round of questions, nearly all focused on the future—ISS crew scheduling, ISS facilities, ISRO human spaceflight, science missions, and launch vehicles.
T+108: Layoffs and Launch Sites
Jan 21 • 28 min
I wanted to spend some time breaking down a few news items from last week that may be leading indicators of trends for 2019: layoffs at Stratolaunch, Tethers Unlimited, and SpaceX, and Relativity signed a lease for Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral.
T+107: Chris Gebhardt
Jan 15 • 58 min
Chris Gebhardt of NASASpaceflight joins me to talk all things SpaceX: Starship and its upcoming hopper tests, DM-1 and the government shutdown, and more.
T+106: Q&A
Jan 1 • 42 min
This month I tackle questions on future space architectures, companies working in space right now, and finish with a 2018 Top 10 ranking.
T+105: Jonathan McDowell
Dec 29, 2018 • 35 min
Jonathan McDowell joins me to talk about his recent paper proposing 80 kilometers, rather than 100, as a more appropriate boundary of the edge of space.
T+104: Jake Robins
Dec 11, 2018 • 28 min
Jake Robins of WeMartians joins me to talk InSight, Mars EDL, and Mars 2020.
T+103: Commercial Lunar Payload Services
Dec 4, 2018 • 32 min
NASA announced the nine companies that will be competing for Commercial Lunar Payload Services missions. I share some thoughts on the program overall, and discuss what we know about each company.
T+102: November Q&A
Nov 30, 2018 • 41 min
This month for Q&A, we try to figure out what the hell is up with DM-1, hit a few questions about launch, and talk through a few space development topics.
T+101: Starlink Addendum
Nov 9, 2018 • 8 min
As I was recording yesterday’s show about Starlink, SpaceX filed an application with the FCC for some changes to the Starlink plan. I read through the report and it confirms some of what I talked about yesterday, so thought it was worth an update.
T+100: Midterms, and a Thought on Starlink
Nov 8, 2018 • 24 min
I share some space-focused takeaways from the US midterm elections and a thought that I had about recent Starlink reports.
T+99: October Q&A
Nov 1, 2018 • 40 min
This month, I take on questions about small launch, future space ventures, and the Boeing/SLS saga/drama.
T+98: Gateway Logistics Services
Oct 26, 2018 • 27 min
NASA released a request for information this week about cargo services to the Gateway—big news for the future of NASA and the Gateway. I break down the technical and non-technical bits of that announcement, as well as some updates on Space Force and the…
T+97: SLS OIG Report, Air Force LSA Awards
Oct 15, 2018 • 25 min
I share some thoughts on the two rocket drama stories from last week: a brutal OIG report on Boeing’s work on SLS stages, and the Air Force selected three new launch vehicles to receive development funding.
T+96: Blue Origin & Harris
Oct 10, 2018 • 15 min
Blue Origin and Harris announced an interesting partnership last week that’s worth discussing: Harris will be producing 5-meter fixed mesh reflector antennas that can only fit (for now) inside of New Glenn’s big fairing.
T+95: September Q&A
Oct 1, 2018 • 36 min
This month, I take on questions about BE-4 and Vulcan, small launch, BFR, and human spaceflight.
T+94: #dearMoon
Sep 24, 2018 • 19 min
Some thoughts on the #dearMoon project, SpaceX’s announcement, and the essence of SpaceX’s strategy—bringing us along for the ride.
T+93: NASA Goddard and Restore-L
Sep 13, 2018 • 30 min
Pat O. and I took a trip down to NASA Goddard to explore all that’s going on there. We talk a bit about our visit, what we saw and learned, and we talk with Brent Robertson, project manager of Restore-L, NASA’s satellite servicing mission.
T+92: Marcia Smith
Sep 4, 2018 • 30 min
Marcia Smith of Space Policy Online joins me to talk about the recent meetings of the NASA Advisory Council, the status of Commercial Crew, Space Force, and more space policy goodness.
T+91: August Q&A
Sep 1, 2018 • 25 min
The first official MECO Q&A! I answer questions from listeners about any and all things space—mostly. (PS: Start sending me your questions for September’s Q&A episode!)
T+90: Andrew Jones
Aug 30, 2018 • 37 min
Andrew Jones joins me to talk all things Chinese spaceflight—exploration, policy, industry, and more.
T+89: Lockheed’s Small Sat Strategy, NASA Tipping Points Contracts
Aug 13, 2018 • 26 min
Lockheed Martin has been slowly revealing their small sat strategy over the last three years, and it’s shaping up to be quite interesting and potentially very compelling. And NASA announced 10 Tipping Point awards last week, which include some very…
T+88: CubeRover, Michael Provenzano and Andrew Horchler
Jul 30, 2018 • 49 min
Michael Provenzano and Andrew Horchler of CubeRover and Astrobotic join me to talk about the project, the rover itself, and the future of robotic exploration on the Moon (and beyond).
T+87: Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2
Jul 18, 2018 • 21 min
Rocket Lab announced that they’re in the final selection stage of their search for a US launch site. I break down the options they have, and discuss why I think they’ll pick Wallops Island.
T+86: Falcon Heavy Wins AFSPC-52
Jun 27, 2018 • 18 min
Big news this week: SpaceX won an EELV contract for Falcon Heavy. I talk through what this means for the US launch market, how SpaceX and Falcon Heavy are set up to compete for the next few years.
T+85: Support and Criticism for the Lunar Gateway
Jun 19, 2018 • 21 min
ESA has all but given its full support to the (newly renamed) Lunar Gateway, and Terry Virts threw some criticism its way during the third meeting of the National Space Council. I break down what those things mean for the future of Lunar Gateway, and…
T+84: The End of NASA Exploration Exclusivity
Jun 4, 2018 • 15 min
Last week, China opened up their future space station to other nations, and Blue Origin laid some hints about their lunar ambitions. Both of these stories are indicative of what I think the next era of exploration will look like, and it has interesting…
T+83: Falcon 9 Block 5, RL10 on Centaur V
May 22, 2018 • 23 min
Two events worth discussing happened while I was on vacation—the first Block 5 Falcon 9 took flight, and ULA selected RL10 for Centaur V.
T+82: Jon Goff, Altius Space Machines
May 9, 2018 • 65 min
Jon Goff of Altius Space Machines joins me to talk about how he got to where he is today and what’s ahead for Altius—including satellite servicing with Bulldog, propellant depots, cryo couplers, and wet labs.
T+81: Resource Prospector Cancellation
May 2, 2018 • 12 min
Last week, we heard news that the Resource Prospector mission has been cancelled. I spend some time thinking through my initial reactions to the news, and speculate about what the path ahead may hold for lunar development.
T+80: DARPA Launch Challenge
Apr 25, 2018 • 18 min
The DARPA Launch Challenge has been officially unveiled, so I spent some time breaking down the competition and speculating about who will enter and what DARPA wants out of it.
T+79: Orbital ATK’s OmegA, NASA’s Bridenstine
Apr 21, 2018 • 24 min
Orbital ATK unveiled the name and additional technical details of their new launch vehicle, OmegA. Jim Bridenstine was finally confirmed as the new NASA Administrator.
T+78: No Cost-Plus, But No Vision, Either
Apr 9, 2018 • 19 min
NASA had some interesting comments on the Lunar Gateway at a recent NASA Advisory Council meeting—the program is eschewing cost-plus contracting, but it’s lacking vision.
T+77: Blue Origin Reconfigures New Glenn
Apr 4, 2018 • 28 min
Caleb Henry got a great scoop on some changes Blue Origin is making to New Glenn. I think through why these changes may have been made and what these changes could mean for the near future.
T+76: Caleb Henry
Mar 27, 2018 • 32 min
Caleb Henry of SpaceNews returns to talk Satellite 2018, megaconstellations, flat-panel antennas, and the current state of the satellite industry.
T+75: March Roundup
Mar 23, 2018 • 28 min
A few interesting documents have been released: the late-but-final 2018 appropriations, NASA’s lunar cargo lander request for information, and the public summary of the NASA Independent Review Team’s investigation into the CRS-7 mishap. And a few…
T+74: Stagnation and Opportunity
Mar 9, 2018 • 27 min
NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot appeared in front of the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee to discuss the 2019 NASA budget request, and I’ve got some thoughts on their decisions regarding the SLS Mobile Launcher and how it…
T+73: Commercial Crew Contingency Plans, and the End of ISS
Feb 23, 2018 • 22 min
NASA recently began talking about some contingency planning for potential Commercial Crew delays, and the end-of-ISS discussion is heating up.
T+72: SpaceX’s Motivation for Falcon Heavy
Feb 13, 2018 • 34 min
SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy last week and shook up the space launch world. I spend some time thinking through SpaceX’s motivations for building Falcon Heavy, and what its effects might be on the world around it.
T+71: Commercial Crew, Congress, and the GAO
Jan 30, 2018 • 23 min
The Commercial Crew program—NASA, SpaceX, Boeing, and more—went in front of Congress to discuss the current status of the crew launch systems in development. Concurrently, the GAO released a report warning that more delays are likely, and could put NASA…
T+70: Polar Launches from Cape Canaveral
Jan 17, 2018 • 23 min
The US Air Force has developed a viable corridor for launching to polar and other high-inclination orbits from Cape Canaveral. I spend some time thinking through who may be interested in using that corridor and what its existence could mean for the newer…
T+69: Robin Seemangal
Dec 27, 2017 • 64 min
Robin Seemangal joins me for a free-flowing discussion on the stories we found most important in 2017 and what we’re looking forward to in 2018, including SpaceX’s huge year, Blue Origin’s under-the-radar work to lay foundations for their future, SLS’…
T+68: Mike Lewis, CTO of NanoRacks
Dec 20, 2017 • 48 min
Mike Lewis, CTO of NanoRacks joins me to talk about what they’re working on today, as well as their big plans for the future, including their upcoming airlock and the Ixion project—their ongoing work to turn spent upper stages into useful spacecraft.
T+67: Special Preview of MECO Headlines, December 1–8, 2017
Dec 8, 2017 • 21 min
A special preview of the MECO Headlines shows: Elon Musk kinda-sorta-maybe announces the Falcon Heavy demo payload, Russia and China carry out successful military launches, NASA announces some very interesting NextSTEP-2 contracts, OA-8E Cygnus departs…
T+66: A Visit to NanoRacks, and Virgin Orbit Books a Department of Defense Launch
Nov 27, 2017 • 26 min
I was in Houston last week and I visited NanoRacks for a bit. And Virgin Orbit piqued the interest of the Department of Defense, which has some interesting implications.
T+65: The New GEO Model, Orbital ATK’s Composite Case, Good and Bad SpaceX News
Nov 11, 2017 • 25 min
SES gives us a preview of their new GEO strategy (which may be a harbinger of the future), Orbital ATK tests a new composite case to be used for their Next-Generation Launcher and future SLS boosters, NASA approves the use of previously-flown Falcon 9…
T+64: BE-4 Fires Up, and Some Thoughts on the Future of Commercial and Military Launch
Oct 28, 2017 • 24 min
Blue Origin fired up their BE-4 engine for the first time, which is a big moment. And I share some meandering thoughts on the future of commercial and military launch.
T+63: Centaur V, BFR Updates
Oct 18, 2017 • 26 min
Tory Bruno wrote an op-ed in SpaceNews regarding Vulcan and its future, and he announced that ULA will be upgrading Centaur. Elon Musk spent some time on reddit talking about BFR and updating us on some of the details.
T+62: Chris Gebhardt on SpaceX’s BFR 2017 Update
Oct 4, 2017 • 68 min
Chris Gebhardt of NASASpaceflight joins me to discuss Elon Musk’s presentation last week, in which he provided an update to the BFR.
T+61: Northrop Grumman Acquires Orbital ATK, Lockheed Martin Unveils New Satellite Family
Sep 25, 2017 • 22 min
Northrop Grumman is acquiring Orbital ATK in a $9.2 billion deal. Lockheed Martin unveiled a new family of satellite busses, positioning themselves for the next era of satellite bus production.
T+60: New Glenn’s Fairing, OneWeb’s Factory
Sep 16, 2017 • 23 min
Blue Origin announced a size increase to New Glenn’s fairing, and OneWeb has decided to keep their Toulouse factory open for other customers after their initial 10-satellite production run is over. Both decisions bring about some interesting implications…
T+59: Jake Robins
Sep 7, 2017 • 49 min
Jake Robins of the WeMartians Podcast joins me to discuss the state and future of the Mars exploration program, lean sample return, and more.
T+58: Totality
Aug 25, 2017 • 17 min
I spent 2 minutes and 40 seconds in the shadow of the Moon in Gallatin, TN. Totality was an incredibly powerful experience, and I wanted to share what it was like to be there as best I could.
T+57: Caleb Henry
Aug 16, 2017 • 33 min
Caleb Henry of SpaceNews joins me to discuss the slowdown in GEO satellite orders, the latest on the big LEO constellations, and what’s up with the sky falling.
T+56: Small Launchers and Advanced Propulsion
Aug 11, 2017 • 33 min
Rocket Lab completed their investigation into what went wrong on their first launch, Virgin Orbit’s carrier 747 arrived in Long Beach, and I discuss a few NASA-backed advanced propulsion projects.
T+55: ISS and Beyond
Aug 4, 2017 • 28 min
I spend some time thinking through what the future of the ISS holds, and what may come after it.
T+54: Eric Berger
Jul 27, 2017 • 32 min
Eric Berger returns to the show to talk about Elon Musk and SpaceX’s crusade against cost-plus contracting, the end of Red Dragon, where NASA policy is heading, and what SpaceX may have in store for the Air Force’s next round of development contracts.
T+53: Loren Grush
Jul 22, 2017 • 37 min
Loren Grush of The Verge joins me to talk about Falcon Heavy, SpaceX cancelling Dragon 2 propulsive landings, Red Dragon riding off into the sunset, Moon Express, US space policy, and a whole lot more.
T+52: XCOR Winds Down, ULA Wins STP-3
Jul 13, 2017 • 25 min
XCOR laid off the rest of its staff and is closing up shop after losing a contract with ULA, which leaves ULA in an interesting spot for Vulcan-ACES. On the ULA side, they won their first Phase 1A contract from the Air Force, and the contract price sheds…
T+51: The SpaceX Steamroller, Blue Origin Chooses Alabama
Jun 29, 2017 • 26 min
SpaceX launched two missions last weekend, flew new titanium grid fins on Falcon 9, and are really picking up the pace. And Blue Origin got cozy with the Alabama Launch Alliance by announcing that they’ll build the BE-4 production facility in…
T+50: Boeing Gets XS-1, SpaceX Gets X-37B
Jun 15, 2017 • 27 min
Boeing’s proposal won Phases 2 and 3 of DARPA’s XS-1 program, and I’m pretty bummed about it. And the Air Force announced that SpaceX will launch the fifth X-37B mission in August.
T+49: Dr. Thomas Lang
Jun 5, 2017 • 80 min
Dr. Thomas Lang, Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the UCSF School of Medicine, joins the show to discuss human health and physiology in space.
T+48: Rand Simberg
May 27, 2017 • 58 min
Rand Simberg joins me to talk about his recent trip to the Space Tech Expo, the dawning of the age of in-space manufacturing, the future of SLS and Orion, the National Space Council, and a lot more.
T+47: Uncrewed EM-1 Delayed to 2019
May 16, 2017 • 32 min
Last week was rough for the Space Launch System. An issue with weld tooling was discovered, with some serious consequences, and then a LOX tank dome was dropped and damaged beyond repair. To top it off, NASA announced that EM-1 will fly without crew, and…
T+46: Eric Berger
May 2, 2017 • 30 min
Eric Berger, Senior Space Editor at Ars Technica, joins me to talk SLS/Orion, New Space vs. Old Space, space policy in the Trump administration, and why the fight might not be settled until 2020.
T+45: 2018 Air Force Launch Vehicle Contracts, and the Dim Future of Antares
Apr 20, 2017 • 36 min
As the award date approaches for the 2018 Air Force launch vehicle development contracts, we keep hearing from Congress about how they would like to see it go. And I discuss the future of Antares and the Next-Generation Launch Vehicle in light of the…
T+44: SpaceX and the Age of Reusability
Apr 1, 2017 • 32 min
SpaceX made history this week by launching SES-10 with a previously-flown first stage. I discuss implications of this achievement, the things we learned from Elon Musk in the post-flight press briefing, and the doubters, as always.
T+43: March Lightning Round
Mar 25, 2017 • 27 min
The last two weeks have been filled with a bunch of smaller stories—SpaceX’s GPS III bid win and upcoming SES-10 launch, ULA’s decision on Vulcan’s engines and Congress’ potential meddling, and the ISS beyond 2024.
T+42: Blue Origin Introduces New Glenn
Mar 9, 2017 • 28 min
This week, Blue Origin shed some more light on New Glenn—by way of an animation, launch agreements, and a talk by Jeff Bezos at Satellite 2017—and the first fully-assembled BE-4 shipped to their test site in Texas for a hot firing. I discuss the new…
T+41: EM-1 Follow-up, Dragon 2-Falcon Heavy to the Moon
Mar 2, 2017 • 40 min
This week is all about #hotdrama, with two surprise media briefings: one from NASA on a potential crewed EM-1, and one from SpaceX on a privately-crewed journey around the Moon—riding on a Dragon 2 and Falcon Heavy—at the end of 2018. I discuss the…
T+40: The Potentially Infamous EM-1 Memo
Feb 18, 2017 • 26 min
Robert Lightfoot, the Acting NASA Administrator, sent a memo to the agency on the possibility of putting a crew on EM-1. I discuss the potential fallout from this idea and where the SLS/Orion program may be heading in the future.
T+39: Opportunities for Private Companies within Government Programs
Feb 9, 2017 • 18 min
This week, NASA officially announced that NanoRacks will be adding an airlock onto the International Space Station to add capabilities and capacity to their already-up-and-running business. That announcement, along with some early insight into NASA policy…
T+38: 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act Speculation
Feb 2, 2017 • 28 min
Marcia Smith of saw a draft of the 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act, and it contains some very interesting changes from the 2016 version that bounced around Congress last year. I discuss what some of these changes may mean in…
T+37: Government Subsidies, Private Capability, and the 2010 National Space Policy
Jan 27, 2017 • 20 min
Four members of the House of Representatives sent letters to DARPA and the Pentagon this week to file a complaint about a program in conflict with the 2010 National Space Policy. It’s a situation reminiscent of the debate over commercial use of retired…
T+36: Falcon 9 Flies with New Fueling Procedures, and the NASA-Boeing-Soyuz Saga
Jan 19, 2017 • 30 min
SpaceX is off to a strong start in 2017 with a very successful launch of Iridium-1 and a promising next few weeks. I also discuss the very interesting story developing between NASA, Boeing, and Russia regarding Soyuz flights to the ISS.
T+35: NASA Policy Grab Bag
Jan 12, 2017 • 21 min
While we don’t yet have hard details on which direction NASA programs are headed during the Trump administration, we have started to get some hints. The leadership of the Congressional subcommittees that NASA depends on will be largely unchanged, and…
T+34: SpaceX’s COPV Investigation and Return to Flight
Jan 5, 2017 • 22 min
SpaceX wrapped up their investigation into the Amos-6 explosion, and the news is mixed. I discuss their findings, their path back to flight, and some other 2016-2017 odds and ends.
T+33: SpaceX’s Commercial Crew Delay, Fueling Process Approved, and the Inmarsat-Falcon Heavy Situation
Dec 15, 2016 • 17 min
Inmarsat, under regulatory pressure to get flying, decided to take a mid-2017 launch slot on Ariane 5, moving away from Falcon Heavy. Everyone thinks it’s a big deal, but for the wrong reason. And SpaceX’s Commercial Crew flights have been delayed, but we…
T+32: Soyuz-U Failure and Satellite Servicing
Dec 8, 2016 • 23 min
A Progress launch failed on its way to the ISS, so I discuss how this may affect the politics of the ISS and NASA going forward. And then I get into some thoughts on satellite servicing in general, and specifically surrounding Restore-L and Orbital ATK’s…
T+31: ULA’s RocketBuilder
Dec 1, 2016 • 20 min
Tory Bruno took to the stage to announce RocketBuilder, their new way to market and sell Atlas V launch services. I discuss my initial thoughts about it and what the announcement means for ULA going forward in the commercial market.
T+30: SpaceX Nearing Falcon 9 Return-to-Flight
Nov 23, 2016 • 33 min
All signs point to SpaceX nearing a return-to-flight mission for Falcon 9. I discuss what to watch for in the months ahead, and read some email.
T+29: Commercializing the NASA Exploration Roadmap
Nov 16, 2016 • 32 min
Following up on last show’s topic, there are signs that NASA may be moving away from Orion in the future. I discuss how I see NASA modernizing their exploration roadmap, politically, in the next administration.
T+28: The Future of NASA and the Moon
Nov 2, 2016 • 28 min
NASA released an RFI for small scientific payloads bound for the lunar surface, meant to “address strategic knowledge gaps” associated with human missions to the Moon. I talk about how this could indicate a shift of the SLS/Orion roadmap, and how NASA may…
T+27: Financial vs. Political Capital and Mission Sustainability
Oct 26, 2016 • 30 min
In light of the recent Schiaparelli lander failure, I discuss the differences between missions supported by financial and political capital, and how those differences will play out in the next era of space exploration.
T+26: OA-5, Antares, and Orbital ATK’s Road Ahead
Oct 19, 2016 • 37 min
I took a trip down to Wallops Island, Virginia this week for the launch of OA-5—the return to flight for Antares, sending Cygnus up to the ISS on a resupply mission. I recorded this episode on the long drive home afterwards, and talked about what Antares’…
T+25: Falcon 9 Updates and the 10% Discount
Oct 12, 2016 • 30 min
Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX, spoke at two events and dropped some tidbits about the Falcon 9 investigation, future versions of the vehicle, and what kind of discount they would offer for “flight-proven” stages. I break down the new info, and…
T+24: ULA’s RapidLaunch and Commercial Market Competitiveness
Oct 5, 2016 • 22 min
After a few busy weeks of Blue Origin and SpaceX news, I spend some time talking about ULA’s RapidLaunch program and how they are working to get competitive within the commercial market.
T+23: SpaceX Mars Architecture Initial Reactions
Sep 28, 2016 • 57 min
Elon Musk took the stage at the IAC this week and unveiled SpaceX’s architecture for their planetary exploration and colonization plans. Jake from WeMartians and I discuss our initial reactions to and takeaways from the event.
T+22: SpaceX Mars Architecture Announcement Preamble
Sep 21, 2016 • 41 min
SpaceX is set to make an announcement next week at the IAC 2016 regarding their Mars colonization architecture. I talk about what we know, what I expect to see, and what I hope is included in their plans.
T+21: Blue Origin Previews New Glenn
Sep 14, 2016 • 32 min
Blue Origin surprised us all by previewing their massive next rocket, New Glenn. I discuss the few details we know, how New Glenn could fit into the market, what questions need to be answered, and many other things to consider in the wake of the…
T+20: Mike Johnson, Chief Designer at NanoRacks on NanoRacks’ History, NextSTEP, and Wet Workshops
Sep 7, 2016 • 51 min
Mike Johnson, Chief Designer at NanoRacks, joined me this week to talk about his incredibly interesting career in spaceflight, the past and future of NanoRacks, their NextSTEP proposal, and a handful of other topics.
T+19: SpaceX’s Manifest, Flight-Proven Hardware, Blue Origin Updates, and Antares’ Engines
Aug 31, 2016 • 30 min
SpaceX has a busy manifest as they close out 2016, including SES-10 which will fly with a “flight-proven” first stage. A few bits of info have come out regarding Blue Origin’s future plans—including flying diverse payloads on New Shepard, and construction…
T+18: Robert Zubrin on Mars Exploration and Colonization Internationally, within NASA, and at SpaceX
Aug 24, 2016 • 34 min
Dr. Robert Zubrin, President of The Mars Society, creator of Mars Direct, and author of The Case for Mars is on the show this week to discuss Mars exploration and colonization internationally, within NASA, and at SpaceX.
T+17: NextSTEP Habitat Prototypes, and the Zombie Centaur
Aug 17, 2016 • 29 min
NASA selected six companies, as part of the NextSTEP program, to develop ground prototypes of deep space habitats, and the Centaur could live on as a wet workshop. Orbital ATK pushed OA-5 to late September. SpaceX landed yet another stage on the ASDS, and…
T+16: Moon Express Licensing, and NASA’s Disdain for Artificial Gravity
Aug 10, 2016 • 27 min
Moon Express gained government approval for their upcoming mission to win the Google Lunar X Prize. And I go on a rant about artificial gravity and how NASA shrugs it off as unnecessary.
T+15: More SLS Roadmap Details, and Landed Falcon 9 Static Fires
Aug 3, 2016 • 17 min
The roadmap for SLS got a little murkier this week thanks to some additional details in the GAO report regarding its cost and schedule. SpaceX test fired a landed core three times in three days last week, paving the way for reuse of the CRS-8 core.
T+14: The Post-EM-1 Roadmap for SLS, and Potential Uses for SpaceX’s BFR
Jul 27, 2016 • 26 min
Before Mars and exploration-centric talk, I talk about Orbital ATK’s agreement for exclusive use of LMP-103S. Then I take a hard look at the post-EM-1 roadmap for SLS, and theorize some potential uses for SpaceX’s giant Mars-bound rocket—lovingly referred…
T+13: SpaceX’s CRS-9 Success, Senate Hearing Recap, and US-Russian Plans for the Moon
Jul 20, 2016 • 25 min
SpaceX had a great night launching the CRS-9 mission, and it’s all good signs for their future. The Senate hearing, as I predicted, was focused on maintaining the status quo. US and Russian engineers and scientists have some ideas on the future of…
T+12: The Competition of Reusability Between Falcon 9, Vulcan, and Ariane 6
Jul 13, 2016 • 23 min
Ted Cruz called a hearing on NASA’s space exploration policy in the next president’s administration. The president of France’s CNES discussed some policy statements, and I went on a rant about his thoughts on Ariane 6 and its competition.
T+11: SpaceX’s LZ-1 Expansion, Dream Chaser’s UN Ambitions, China and ESA’s Growing Relationship
Jul 6, 2016 • 25 min
SpaceX printed a public notice in Florida Today on July 3rd outlining plans for LZ-1 expansion. Sierra Nevada Corporation and the United Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding future use of Dream Chaser by UN member countries. China…
T+10: Logan Kamperschroer on the Current State and Near Future of Storable Propellants
Jun 29, 2016 • 27 min
This week I talked to Logan Kamperschroer, a Graduate Research Assistant at the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University. Logan’s research focuses on hypergolic rocket fuels—specifically the push to move away from the toxic storable…
T+9: ExoMars 2016 and 2020, Chinese Partnerships and Policy
Jun 22, 2016 • 17 min
The ExoMars 2020 rover received a funding boost and a reassessed schedule, the 2016 orbiter/lander set its sights on Mars, NASA and ESA coordinated a practice communication session, and China opens up to the international space community.
T+8: Masten’s Xodiac and XaeroB, Blue Origin’s Next Flight of New Shepard
Jun 15, 2016 • 13 min
Masten Space Systems released a video of test flights of their two latest vehicles. Blue Origin was awarded a NASA Flight Opportunities contract, is planning the 4th flight of New Shepard, and began clearing land for their factory just outside Kennedy…
T+7: Bezos and Musk at Code Conference, and a Hard Look at Vulcan’s Economics
Jun 8, 2016 • 25 min
Some interesting tidbits emerged from interviews with [Jeff Bezos]( and [Elon Musk]( at Code Conference. And a hard look at the economics of [United Launch Alliance’s…
T+6: Orbital ATK’s Next-Gen Vehicle, Falcon 9 Proving Its Reusability, and ULA’s Tough Future
Jun 1, 2016 • 15 min
Orbital ATK [shared some more details]( about their next-generation launch vehicle, SpaceX is working out their [certification…
T+5: Space Stations Around the Moon and Mars, ExoMars 2016, and China’s Momentum in Space
May 25, 2016 • 16 min
Orbital ATK and Lockheed Martin unveiled proposals for space stations around the [Moon by 2020](, and [Mars by…
T+4: Boeing’s CST-100, SpaceX’s Dragon 2, and a Scorched Falcon 9
May 18, 2016 • 13 min
Boeing announced [a 6 month delay]( in the schedule for their CST-100 crew vehicle. SpaceX’s Dragon 2 is in the lead to be the first Commercial Crew vehicle to fly. The most…
T+3: Falcon 9 GTO Mission Drone Ship Landing, Orbital ATK’s Current and Future Launch Vehicles
May 11, 2016 • 11 min
SpaceX [landed another Falcon 9 first stage]( on their drone ship—this time on a GTO launch, which is a major milestone on their way to full reusability and [Falcon Heavy…
T+2: SpaceX’s Red Dragon, Falcon Performance, and the Political Fallout of OA-6
May 4, 2016 • 14 min
SpaceX officially announced their [first Red Dragon mission to Mars](, which will pave the way for future missions. They also posted [new performance…
T+1: The Near Future of NASA’s Orion and SLS Programs
Apr 27, 2016 • 11 min
An analysis of NASA’s human spaceflight programs, [Orion]( and the [Space Launch System]( How we got here, where we’re going, and how things…
T-0: The Near Future of US-Based Competitors
Apr 20, 2016 • 18 min
An analysis of the intricate dance between [United Launch Alliance](, [SpaceX](, and [Blue Origin]( as we enter the next era of spaceflight.