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The Orbital Mechanics Podcast

Every week we cover the latest spaceflight news, discuss past, current and future exploration efforts, and take a look at upcoming events. Tune in to hear about how humans get to space, how they stay in space and how unmanned craft reach farther and farther into the universe around us.

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Episode 359: Venus is for Louvers

Thanks to Deathkin for naming this week’s episode!Spaceflight News— Rocket 4.0 unveiling (spacenews.com) — Chris Kemp asks “why can’t a couple of people launch a rocket?” (youtu.be) — Astra announced a new UK launch site (spacenews.com) (en.wikipedia.org) — Astra is in the running for the TacRS-3 contract (spacenews.com)Short & Sweet— Axiom-1 putting strain on ISS (spacenews.com)— Tianzhou-4 successfully reaches Chinese Space Station (spacenews.com)— Non-GPS satellite slated for launch (spacenews.com)— JWST final steps before science career (spacenews.com) (blogs.nasa.gov) (blogs.nasa.gov)Questions, Comments, Correction Burns— Joel R. via email: Rover steering wheel, Shuttle drag chute — Further reading: Mobility Performance of the Lunar Roving Vehicle: Terrestrial Studies - Apollo 15 Results (PDF: lpi.usra.edu)— From the intro: Canoo taking on water? (spacenews.com)This Week in Spaceflight History— 19 May, 1961. First flyby of Venus, by Venera 1 (nasa.gov) (drewexmachina.com) — Launched on a Molniya 8K78 (astronautix.com) — Next week (5/24 - 5/30) in 2000: Freshly imported

1hr 3mins

18 May 2022

Rank #1

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Episode 358: DOWNLINK--Awais Ahmed, PIXXEL

Spaceflight News— Rocket Lab Helicopter Catch (spacenews.com) (youtube.com) — CAPSTONE’s up next (spacenews.com)Short & Sweet— Astroscale performs close approach (spacenews.com)— Phantom Space makes big engine purchase (techcrunch.com)— Russian rocket motor breaks apart on-orbit (space.com)— Astra preparing for Canaveral launches (spacenews.com) (astra.com)Questions, comments, corrections— From the intro: Lockheed Martin’s MAP docking port model (cad.onshape.com)Interview – Awais Ahmed, CEO and Co-Founder, PIXXEL— Shakuntala/TD-2 was one of the three demos, and it flew on Transporter-4 (pixxel.space)— The AVIRIS program also collects hyperspectral data, but from a much lower altitude (aviris.jpl.nasa.gov) (avirisng.jpl.nasa.gov)— Read more and get in contact: — pixxel.space — twitter.com/awaisahmedna — twitter.com/PixxelSpace — in.linkedin.com/in/awaisahmedna — linkedin.com/company/pixxelspace — contact@pixxel.spaceThis Week in Spaceflight History— 13 May, 1992: Intelsat VI captured by the STS-49 crew (nasa.gov) (youtube.com) — The plan for capture and kickstage attachment (orbiter-forum.net) (capcomspace.net)— Next week (5/17 - 5/23) in 1961: If a spacecraft falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it…

1hr 24mins

11 May 2022

Rank #2

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Episode 357: On-Orbit Spare

Spaceflight News— Ligado stepping on GPS’ toes (spacenews.com) (en.wikipedia.org) (fiercewireless.com)Short & Sweet— OSIRIS-REx mission extension announced (arizona.edu) (spacenews.com)— SOFIA operations to end later this year (spacenews.com)— AX-1, Crew-4 swap places (spacenews.com) (americaspace.com) (americaspace.com) (spacenews.com) (americaspace.com) (spacenews.com) (nasaspaceflight.com)This Week in Spaceflight History— 5 May, 1997. Maiden launch of Iridium satellites (en.wikipedia.org) (en.wikipedia.org) — A view of Iridium from the business side (PDF: jitm.ubalt.edu) (cnn.com)— Next week in (5/10 - 5/16) 1992: Two’s company, three’s a record.


3 May 2022

Rank #3

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Episode 356: DOWNLINK--Daniel Bock, Morpheus Space

Spaceflight News— Peregrine preparing for flight (spacenews.com) (astrobotic.com) (en.wikipedia.org)Short & Sweet— TDRS to be replaced (spacenews.com)— Starlink books a flight (spacenews.com)— Bad weather holds up Crew-4 (spacenews.com)Interview – Daniel Bock, CEO and Co-Founder of Morpheus Space— FEEP technology is a subset of ion propulsion (en.wikipedia.org) (VIA archive.org: morpheus-space.com)— Some of Bock’s prior research (researchgate.net) (researchgate.net)— Flown on UWE4 (PDF: digitalcommons.usu.edu)— LISA Pathfinder also used FEEP propulsion (PDF: sci-hubtw.hkvisa.net)— linkedin.com— twitter.com/DanMorpheus— twitter.com/morpheusspace — morpheus-space.com— facebook.com/MorpheusSpaceThis Week in Spaceflight History— Apr 29, 2002. Cancellation of the X-38 (nasa.gov) (astronautix.com) (nasa.gov) (youtube.com)— Next week (3/5 - 9/5) in 1997: MORE TINFOIL!

1hr 37mins

27 Apr 2022

Rank #4

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Episode 355: Minecart on the Moon

Spaceflight News— Artemis-1 Wet Dress Rehearsal(spacenews.com) (spacenews.com) (spacenews.com) — WDR is deferring to Ax-1 landing (spacenews.com)— Artemis rover (spacenews.com) — RFI issued in August (nasa.gov) (sam.gov) — Lockheed Martin, General Motors and MDA (spacenews.com) — Northrop Grumman, Intuitive Machines, Michelin Tires, AVL, Lunar Outpost (spacenews.com) — Venturi Astrolab (spacenews.com)Short & Sweet— Astranis Improvement (spacenews.com) (en.wikipedia.org)— House Science Committee vs NTSB (spacenews.com)— Astra Electric (spacenews.com)— ULA puts in a big order (spacenews.com)Questions, Comments, Corrections— LeonRunningMan: LEASAT didn’t use a Minuteman-III motor, exactly (discord.com)This Week in Spaceflight History—  21 April 2013, Launch of Antares A-ONE, maiden flight of Antares (en.wikipedia.org) (nasa.gov) (northropgrumman.com) — Orbital Sciences contracted with Aerojet Rocketdyne to use modified NK-33’s. (PDF: lpre.de)— Next week (4/26 - 5/2) in 2002: The end of a dream, to be chased by others.

1hr 4mins

20 Apr 2022

Rank #5

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Episode 354: Damp Dress Rehearsal

Spaceflight News— Spinlaunch (space.com) (HT McMally: businesswire.com)— SLS wet rehearsal modification (HT DeltaV: twitter.com/SciGuySpace) (spacenews.com) (spacenews.com) — April 2nd, lightning strikes (nasa.gov) — April 3rd, fan failures (nasa.gov) — April 4th, vent and check valves (nasa.gov) (nasa.gov)Short & Sweet— DARPA funds in-space manufacturing development (spacedaily.com)— Spaceport Camden: Back from the grave? (news4jax.com)— Warpspace comes to the U.S. (spacenews.com)— Astroscale preparing to restart demonstration (spacenews.com)Questions, comments, corrections— From the intro — Sentinel on Vega-C (spacenews.com) — Axiom’s arrival (spacenews.com)This Week in Spaceflight History— 12 Apr, 1985: the launch of STS-51-D with LEASAT-3 onboard (en.wikipedia.org) (hughesscgheritage.com) — Further reading: Bold They Rise, The Space Shuttle Early Years, 1972-1986, by David Hitt and Heather R. Smith (nebraskapress.unl.edu) — The successful deployment of LEASAT-4 (youtu.be) — Ox grabbing LEASAT-3 (same video, different timecode) (youtu.be) — Spinning LEASAT-3 before departure (same video) (youtu.be)— Next week (4/19 - 4/25) in 2013: it’s not just a steak sauce.

1hr 10mins

13 Apr 2022

Rank #6

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Episode 353: Golden Sample Retriever

Spaceflight News— MSR delayed and split in half (spacenews.com) (PDF: nasa.gov)— Northrup Grumman eyeing its own SLD contract (spacenews.com) (nasa.gov) (HT Andrew Z: twitter.com/wapodavenport) — NG received six additional CRS-2 missions last month (govconwire.com)Short & Sweet— Crew Dragon production is ending (teslarati.com)— Slingshot Aerospace gets USSF contract (spacenews.com)Questions, Comments, Corrections— Andrew Z via email: nautical miles are actually useful!— From the intro: ISS seat swap negotiations (spacenews.com)This Week in Spaceflight History— 4 April, 1984: Launch of Challenger flight STS-41-C (youtube.com VIA nss.org) (nytimes.com) (PDF: nasa.gov) (harvard.edu) (planet4589.org) — A good book about Shuttle: The Space Shuttle Program: Technologies And Accomplishments by Davide Sivolella (vdoc.pub) — MMU Users Guide indicates a proportional relationship between nominal “cruise” speed and length of travel (PDF p38: large.stanford.edu)— Next week (4/12 - 4/18) in 1985: Swat that fly

1hr 5mins

5 Apr 2022

Rank #7

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Episode 352: A Nullage

Spaceflight News— Second Artemis Lander (spacenews.com) (nasa.gov)Short & Sweet— NASA opens 50-year-old lunar sample (cnet.com) (PDF: curator.jsc.nasa.gov)— Astra’s successful launch had a not-secret-anymore customer (spacenews.com)— Starship environmental review delayed… Again (spacenews.com)— Arianespace and SPX adjust to missing Soyuz launches (spacenews.com)This Week in Spaceflight History— April 4, 1968. The launch of Apollo 6 (en.wikipedia.org) (scribd.com) (PDF HT Mike Stewart: ibiblio.org) (PDF HT Mike Stewart: ibiblio.org) — Further listening: Arin Cross’ Data Relay on combustion instability (theorbitalmechanics.com)— Next week (4/5 - 4/11) in 1984: Pinky and the Brain… that he’s trying to fix.


30 Mar 2022

Rank #8

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Episode 351: B-B-B-Borscht

Spaceflight News— Artemis I Rollout (spacenews.com) (americaspace.com) (americaspace.com)Short & Sweet— SpaceX sets two new records (spacenews.com)— First all-cosmonaut Soyuz docks with station (spaceflight.com)— China satellite launch includes demonstration third-stage (nasaspaceflight.com)Questions, Comments, Corrections— From the intro: JWST progress (spacenews.com)This Week in Spaceflight History— 25 Mar, 1961: Launch of Korabl-Sputnik 5 (en.wikipedia.org) (theatlantic.com) (nasa.gov) (airandspace.si.edu)— Next week (3/29 - 4/4) in 1968: Less than perfect, but successful, but a failure.


23 Mar 2022

Rank #9

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Episode 350: DOWNLINK--Zachary Tong

Spaceflight News— Astra LV0008/ELaNA 41 failure analysis (spacenews.com) (astra.com) (nasaspaceflight.com)Short & Sweet— OSAM-1 completes critical design review (nasa.gov)— China to commercialize Tiangong spacenews.com— Soyuz embargo leaves many satellites grounded (spacenews.com)Questions, Comments, Corrections— Gravitational submarines — Matthew Bell (iopscience.iop.org) — Andrew not-Z via email suggests Re-entry Vehicle Dynamics (google.com) — Aaron Sawdey (twitter.com/sawdey) (en.wikipedia.org)Interview – Zachary Tong, creator of Breaking Taps on Youtube— youtube.com/c/BreakingTaps— twitter.com/BreakingTapsThis Week in Spaceflight History— 18 Mar, 2003. The authorization of Project Prometheus (everyspec.com, alt: web.archive.org)— Next week (3/22 - 3/28) in 1961: Ghost beetroot calls home.

1hr 24mins

16 Mar 2022

Rank #10