Liftoff

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Liftoff is a fortnightly podcast about space, the universe, and everything. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand the latest developments as explained by enthusiastic space fans Stephen Hackett and Jason Snell. Hosted by Jason Snell and Stephen Hackett.

All Episodes

The recent announcement of phosphine being detected in Venus' atmosphere could have a major effect on future scientific missions, so Jason is excited about space blimps again. Then, Stephen walks through NASA's most recent Artemis roadmap, and the guys discuss what the future of the program could look like if the White House changes hands next year.

Sep 22

61 min

In the Utah desert, Northrop Grumman has tested a full-sized SLS SRB, while the future of work in low-Earth orbit is being debated. On Mars, InSight's troubles continue and 17 billion light years-away, two black holes have collided.

Sep 8

51 min

It's a busy week on Florida's Space Coast, and supernovas are in the news. Thankfully the two won't cross paths. Neither will Earth and an asteroid the day before Election Day in the United States.

Aug 25

46 min

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have splashed down after their historic mission to the ISS, and SpaceX's finally gotten a Starship test article to hop in Texas and the OSIRIS-REx team is gearing up for their sample return flight. Also: Ceres' bright spots, government contracts and an update on the SLS.

Aug 11

41 min

Mars 2020 is set to launch in just a few days, and should be followed by the splashdown of the Commercial Crew Demo-2 mission. Elsewhere, Virgin Galactic has shown off the interior of its space tourism craft, and we remember Rene Carpenter.

Jul 28

39 min

There are three missions bound for Mars launching this month, and Jason walks through them each. Then, Stephen gives a NASA budget update and the two get into some space law ... and guidelines.

Jul 14

53 min

This week: black holes doing weird black hole things, a progress report on the SLS and a discussion of how some of NASA's facilities should be renamed.

Jun 30

47 min

The crew of Demo-2 are likely working on orbit until August, while here on the ground, COVID-19 is taking its toll on NASA schedules. Also: a conversation about CLPS and Gateway, as well as NASA's new Director of Human Spaceflight, Kathy Lueders.

Jun 15

41 min

The age of Commercial Crew has arrived, with Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken arriving at the International Space Station safely after riding a Falcon 9 there this weekend. Also: tiny CubeSats can do big things and Tom Cruise may be taking a trip.

Jun 2

50 min

The Artemis Accords have been unveiled, but will their adoption be hurt by their rollout? Could Starship be more useful as a refueling station than a lander? Jason and Stephen get into these questions and more this fortnight.

May 19

44 min

NASA has unveiled its plans to source a lunar lander for the Artemis program, while Hubble celebrates its 30th anniversary.

May 5

52 min

May seems to be the Month of Commercial Crew! Also: NASA is working from home, an exoplanet may be no more and a look at a future Mars sample return mission.

Apr 21

50 min

In the spring of 1970, NASA launched what would be the third mission to walk on the moon, but almost nothing went to plan, putting the crew in peril until the moment they splashed down.

Apr 7

72 min

The entire space industry is reeling from effects of the current global pandemic, and NASA remembers Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden.

Mar 24

40 min

Mars 2020 has a name, Voyager 2 can't call home and SpaceX is doing SpaceX things. Then, results from the initial Starliner investigation and a look at VIPER.

Mar 10

36 min

Little satellites are helping larger ones, InSight's mole is causing problems, the SLS is slipping and Venus is up for a mission as a Hot Jupiter may be being ripped apart. Just another fortnight of space news!

Feb 28

57 min

Boeing's Starliner issues run deeper than it first appeared, CHEOPS is operation and the Solar Orbiter is on its way to our start. That, and a look at the White House's proposed NASA budget for 2021.

Feb 11

43 min

On January 28, 1986, seven astronauts lost their lives aboard the space shuttle Challenger, including teacher Christa McAuliffe. This week, Jason and Stephen talk about the disaster, its causes and how it changed NASA, after discussing the current House NASA Authorization Bill and more.

Jan 28

71 min

2020 is here, as are updates on the James Webb telescope and SLS. NASA has inducted some new astronauts and the star Betelgeuse is getting weird.

Jan 14

60 min

2019 is coming to a close, but the news rolls on: NASA is close to having a new budget, Commercial Crew makes another step in the right direction and Jason ends things with a holiday message.

Dec 2019

48 min

Commercial Crew is moving forward, Vikram's crash site has been found, and there's a big black hole in the news. There are also claims of a new particle, but questions surround the announcement.

Dec 2019

53 min

Apollo 12 forever lives in the shadow of the mission before it, but it shouldn't. Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon and Al Bean made plenty of their own history, with some terror and plenty of laughs along the way.

Nov 2019

46 min

Commercial Crew continues to grind forward, while InSight struggles to dig on Mars. Then, some SLS upper stage news, reflections on the Galileo probe and a spoiler-free review of "For All Mankind."

Nov 2019

55 min

Insight is back up and running, and the ISS has hosted the first all-female spacewalk. Back here on Earth, NASA is making purchases for Artemis, even as Congress threatens the agency's 2024 plans.

Oct 2019

54 min

This fortnight: NASA works to get its InSight lander digging again, while the SLS program moves forward with training using a replica core stage and some have suggested Planet 9 may not be a planet at all. Oh, and Elon Musk and Jim Bridenstine have been feisty on Twitter.

Oct 2019

50 min

This week, Stephen and Jason discuss a recent exoplanet discovery, NASA's ordering of additional Orion capsules and what Jim Bridenstine can do to ensure ARTEMIS is a success, even beyond his tenure.

Sep 2019

53 min

The Chandrayaan-2 lander seems to have met its end on the lunar surface as SpaceX inches forward with its Raptor testing program. Then, NASA's plans for commercial lunar landers and how the agency prepares Kennedy for hurricanes.

Sep 2019

39 min

The first SLS is taking shape, as are Starhopper and Europa Clipper. Stephen struggles with a name and then Jason introduces a new segment.

Aug 2019

67 min

Stephen and Jason report in after their field trip to Space Center Houston and Johnson Space Center, which included seeing several spacecraft and visiting the restored Apollo Mission Control room.

Aug 2019

64 min

As 2024 gets closer and closer, NASA is hard at work on SLS and Orion, but is also partnering with several companies to move several projects forward in parallel. Stephen and Jason then mark the passing of NASA's first Flight Director, Chris Kraft.

Jul 2019

59 min

50 years ago, humans first set foot on the moon. The work of the crew of Apollo 11 has inspired people for five decades, and their legacy continues to shine on today. In this episode, Stephen and Jason discuss three aspects of the mission that aren’t as well known, including Neil Armstrong’s brush with death in a training exercise, the science performed by the crew during their lunar EVA, and the astronauts’ less-than-glamorous welcome back to Earth.

Jul 2019

38 min

Orion and the Mobile Launch Platform are making progress, InSight's struggles continue and NASA is sending a 8-rotor drone to Saturn's moon Titan.

Jul 2019

48 min

The Artemis Budget is becoming more and more real, as NASA promotes the number of companies involved in building its hardware. Elsewhere, ESA is preparing to go to Jupiter with the JUICE robotic mission and Bigelow has big plans for the ISS.

Jun 2019

38 min

Jason and Stephen discuss the debate around Starlink and its impact on astronomy, cover the latest GAO report and talk about the importance of Commercial Moon Landing Services.

Jun 2019

53 min

In May 1969, Tom Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan took their Apollo spacecraft within 48,000 feet of the lunar service.

May 2019

37 min

This fortnight: checking in on the SLS' test procedures and the on-going planning to return to the moon in 2024, and then a dose of planetary defense.

May 2019

49 min

Stephen and Jason talk the news, from blackholes to Beresheet, and spacesuits to backronyms. Then, a bit about the Crew Dragon anomaly.

Apr 2019

51 min

Rocket Lab has a new satellite platform, while methane cycles have been measured on Mars. Elsewhere, NASA continues to work through the details of its new 2024 lunar goal and 2007 OR10 needs a name.

Apr 2019

49 min

Vice President Mike Pence has challenged NASA to return to the moon within five years.

Mar 2019

42 min

The guys talk through a few stories that didn't make Episode 95, including what's going on with Boeing's Starliner and Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser, as well as Bennu's habit of spewing material into space.

Mar 2019

22 min

Stephen and Jason get into the details of the proposed 2020 NASA budget, the future of the SLS rocket, then review the film *Apollo 11.*

Mar 2019

67 min

In March 1969, Jim McDivitt, Dave Scott and Rusty Schweickart were the first astronauts to fly the Lunar Module, proving that this vital spacecraft was ready to take a crew to the moon — and help bring them home.

Feb 2019

43 min

Jason and Stephen catch up on the news, then talk about the Pioneer and Ranger programs.

Feb 2019

43 min

This fortnight, Jason and Stephen mark NASA's Day of Remembrance, discuss layoffs at two private space companies and wish for a mission to Uranus.

Jan 2019

46 min

China has big plans for the moon and SpaceX has a new test vehicle. Oh, and things got weird with Russia.

Jan 2019

44 min

China's latest lunar mission is about to touchdown on the far side of the moon, and New Horizons has completed its flyby of Ultima Thule.

Jan 2019

49 min

In December 1968, Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders became the first human beings to travel to the moon, circling our nearest neighbor and making history while doing so.

Dec 2018

38 min

The end of 2018 is proving to be busy: InSight has landed, OSIRIS-REx has rendezvoused with Bennu, SpaceX is breaking records and the CLPS program is here, for what that's worth.

Dec 2018

44 min

There was a false alarm concerning Opportunity, and drama about the SLS' future. That, and a conversation about Rocket Lab and a preview of InSight's landing.

Nov 2018

33 min

NASA says goodbye to two spacecraft and Stephen and Jason review *First Man.*

Nov 2018

60 min

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