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SPEXcast

SPEXcast is a weekly podcast diving into a variety of space topics. Come with us as we discuss the cutting edge of spacecraft engineering, potential future missions to outer space, and exciting scientific discoveries in the field of astrophysics.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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76: SpaceX DM-2 and the Impact of Commercial Crew

This week on SPEXcast, we discuss SpaceX's historic Demonstration Mission 2 for NASA as part of the Commercial Crew Program. We dive into how this mission will change NASA going forward, as well as the challenges and achievements SpaceX worked through over the past 10 years. Finally we look forward to the next big milestones for commercial spaceflight.

59mins

1 Jun 2020

Rank #1

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41: SPEXcast Book Club: Ignition Chapter 1 and 2

Today's episode is a new format; SPEXcast Book Club! We will be choosing a space-related book, and reading through it a few chapters at a time and giving our feedback, questions, and discussion. Our first book is called Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants by John D. Clark. We dive through the first two chapters, covering the historical basis of rocket propulsion pre World War II and then diving into the exciting advances made in WWII by Nazi Germany and the U.S.

1hr 1min

2 Nov 2017

Rank #2

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44: NASA Budget 2019

SPEXcast sits down with SPEX alumn, Anthony Hennig, to discuss the proposed changes in the FY2019 NASA budget. We delve into the WFIRST cancelation, the future of humanity's continued presence into space, and cuts to the Office of Education. We also delve into the Head of the ESA's reactions to the FH launch.

1hr 29mins

25 Feb 2018

Rank #3

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47: GOES-S, StarLink, and the Challenges of Space Engineering Programs

Engineering space to be useful to humans is hard work. Today on SPEXcast we sit down to discuss two space satellite networks, GOES and StarLink, and how they help humanity during our day to day lives. But we’re also covering two examples of the challenges of space engineering, the VA241 anomaly on Ariane V and new delays and cost overruns for JWST.

1hr 29mins

10 Mar 2018

Rank #4

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70: SpaceX Starlink Takes Flight

This week on SPEXcast we recap Space'x first operational Starlink launch. SpaceX plans to build and launch thousands of Low Earrth Orbit satellites to provide satellite internet around the world. We break down the unique design considerations of the Starlink satellite and talk about the implications of the global constellation. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/starlink-1/ .

59mins

24 Sep 2019

Rank #5

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54: SpaceX's New Mars Rocket Factory and a Fully-Reusable Falcon 9

This week on SPEXcast, we dive into this developments and give the inside scoop on SpaceX’s recovery efforts. On April 9th, Elon Musk shared a photo of a large mandrel to be used to manufacture the Big Fucking Spaceship (BFS). This unveil comes along side the confirmation that the Port of LA will be the location of the BFR factory. While BFR is still years away, Elon also teased 2nd stage recovery again, hinting at inflatable ballutes as the key to safely returning the 2nd stage to Earth. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/spacex-new-mars-rocket-factory-fully-reusable-falcon-9 .

46mins

27 Apr 2018

Rank #6

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60: SpaceX Flight Control, CRS-15 Payloads, and Chinese Lunar Missions

This week on SPEXcast, we dive into the recent announcements by SpaceX on their new launch complex, the exciting new research and technology demonstrations on NASA's CRS-15 mission to the International Space Station, and some of the unique payloads launched by global launch providers including infrastructure for China's most ambitious lunar mission yet. We also cover the Tesla Roadster SpaceX edition unveil as well as Soyuz MS-09, bringing three new crew members to the ISS. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/spacex-flight-control-crs-15-payloads-chinese-lunar-missions .

55mins

16 Jun 2018

Rank #7

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48: MIT New Space Age Conference and SXSW

This week on SPEXcast, we delve into illegal cubesats, Blue Origin's plan for a cislunar economy, as well as Elon's thoughts on Starman and the Falcon Heavy launch. Show notes and references can be found at our blog, https://blog.spexcast.com/mit-new-space-sxsw-conference

1hr 8mins

17 Mar 2018

Rank #8

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55: Digging into Mars with InSight's Troy Hudson, Instrument Systems Engineer

This week on SPEXcast, we sit down with Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineer Troy Hudson to discuss NASA's Mars InSight mission. InSight is scheduled to launch May 5th from Vandenburg Air Force Base on its journey to the surface of Mars. We discuss several of the instruments on InSight and go into a deep dive on HP^3, which Troy Hudson primarily worked on, including how the probe functions, its scientific objective, and the challenges of digging on another planet. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/mars-insight-troy-hudson .

1hr

4 May 2018

Rank #9

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53: NASA's New Administrator, OmegA, and Europa Clipper

This week on SPEXcast we talk about news from the 34th Space Symposium, political intrigue behind Europa Clipper, and the admission of defeat by the Russian space company ILS. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/53-nasa-new-administrator-omega-europa-clipper.

38mins

20 Apr 2018

Rank #10

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58: Terraforming Mars: Challenges and Misconceptions

This is the last part of our four part 'Mars May' series where we discuss the missions and technologies enabling Mars exploration.Mars is a tantalizing goal for the next step in human exploration. However, the fourth, rocky planet from the Sun is a harsh world to live on. Terraforming offers the possibility of making Mars a new home for humans, but the challenge is immense. We dive into some of the key aspects of Mars colonization and terraforming today on SPEXcast. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/terraforming-mars-challenges-and-misconceptions .

47mins

1 Jun 2018

Rank #11

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57: Mars Rover Operations with Doug Klein

The third installment of SPEXcast's "Mars May" leads us to a part of interplanetary missions that doesn't get much attention. We often discuss the capabilities of rovers, their designs and objectives, and all the science learned from years spent on the surface of Mars. But what about the engineers who interact with the rovers themselves? What goes into operating a vehicle millions of miles away, and what is a typical work day like? To answer these questions, we spoke with Doug Klein, a sampling systems engineer who spent the last few years working with Curiosity's Mars Science Lab (MSL) and is now a Robotic Arm Flight System Engineer for its successor, the Mars 2020 rover. Doug has experience with daily downlink analysis for sample acquisition and processing, planning out the rover's actions on the uplink side of things, and investigating anomalies and their contingency plans when things went wrong. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/mars-rover-operations-doug-klein .

1hr

21 May 2018

Rank #12

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71: In-Space Refueling with Orbit Fab's James Bultitude

This week on SPEXcast we sit down with James Bultitude, Lead Engineer at Orbit Fab. Orbit Fab aims to build 'gas stations' in space, allowing spacecraft to refuel when they would otherwise be discarded. He talks through the challenges of in-space refueling as well as what it is like going from a mission proposal to functioning experiment on the ISS within 6 months. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/71-orbit-fab-in-space-refueling-james-bultitude/ .

1hr 7mins

20 Nov 2019

Rank #13

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68: Space Policy with SpacePolicyOnline.com's Marcia Smith

Whether it be NASA directives, FCC regulations or military operations in space, there's no doubt that policy has a significant impact on industry at every turn Today on SPEXcast we will take a closer look at space policy with Marcia Smith, the founder and editor of spacepolicyonline.com . You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/space-policy-marcia-smith .

1hr

18 Jul 2019

Rank #14

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63: Student Innovation at Spaceport America Cup 2018

On June 19th, 2018 SPEXcast headed down to Las Cruces, New Mexico for the Spaceport America Cup. We were able to speak with the organizers of the event, student teams, and key space industry figures. This episode is part one of three, covering our overall experience at the competition, how it works, and our main takeaways from the experience. Stay tuned for Part Two in the coming weeks, which will follow the moment-by-moment stories of several student teams throughout the week as well as Part Three, which follows our home team from Rochester Institute of Technology. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/irec-2018-student-innovation .

2hr 11mins

13 Sep 2018

Rank #15

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59: Copenhagen Suborbitals with Mads Wilson

This week on SPEXcast, we sit down with Mads Wilson, communications lead for Copenhagen Suborbitals, a volunteer space program based in Denmark with the ambitious goal of launching a human into orbit. We delve into the history of CopSub with Mads, reflecting on the engineering process for their past and future rockets, and the unique challenges and benefits of volunteering engineering blood, sweat and tears into a space program open to (almost) all. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/copenhagen-suborbitals-mads-wilson .

51mins

4 Jun 2018

Rank #16

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61: Unlocking the Potential of Synthetic Aperture Radar with ICEYE's Pekka Laurila

This week on SPEXcast, we sit down with Pekka Laurila, Co-Founder of ICEYE, a New Space startup trying to revolutionize the business of space-based, synthetic aperture radar imagery. We talk about the challenges of building microsatellite constellations capable of imaging the entire planet and the key commercial technologies ICEYE leverages to make radar imagery available more quickly than ever before. We also discuss the technologies required to turn radar data into actionable information that companies can leverage to make decisions that can impact all of us. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/unlocking-potential-synthetic-aperture-radar-iceye-pekka-laurila .

38mins

22 Jun 2018

Rank #17

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56: Mars Cube One, the first interplanetary CubeSats with Joel Steinkraus

This week on SPEXcast we continue 'Mars May' with Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineer Joel Steinkraus to discuss two CubeSats hitching a ride with the InSight mission, which launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on May 5th. Mars Cube One (MarCO) is comprised of a pair of 6U CubeSats which will each relay signals from the InSight lander back to Earth during while it enters the Martian atmosphere. We ask Joel about the technology behind MarCO and the challenges of designing two interplanetary CubeSats. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/marco-joel-steinkraus .

59mins

12 May 2018

Rank #18

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64: SpaceX Raptor Breathes Fire and Virgin Galactic Takes Flight

This week on SPEXcast, we kick of 2019 with some of the biggest space stories of the year, so far. SpaceX has radically redesigned their BFR/ITS Mars rocket into the gleaming Starship and Super Heavy. Virgin Galactic reached space for the first time, and Stratolaunch backs out of the rocket development game. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/spacex-raptor-test-fire-virgin-galactic-flight .

47mins

14 Feb 2019

Rank #19

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66: Robotic Exploration with SpaceIL and Hayabusa2

This week on SPEXcast, we dive into the exciting advancements and discoveries robotic science vehicles are making across the solar system. SpaceIL launched the first commercial lunar lander on a SpaceX Falcon 9. Also JAXA’s Hayabusa2 landed on its target asteroid Ryugu, shooting it with a bullet to collect samples for the next stage of its multi-year mission. Lastly, we remember Opportunity, one of the most prolific robotic explorers. You can check out additional links and references at https://blog.spexcast.com/spaceil-hayabusa2-orbex-mars-one .

46mins

1 Apr 2019

Rank #20