Are We There Yet? When it comes to human space exploration, we're on the brink of something big. Join host Brendan Byrne, space reporter at 90.7 WMFE in Orlando, Fla., as he explores the advances in human space exploration. From conversations with the engineers and scientists building the technology one day heading to Mars, to talks with visionaries and leaders who want to take humankind to deep space, the Are We There Yet? podcast reveals the next chapters in human space exploration.
Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet?

From WMFE

When it comes to human space exploration, we're on the brink of something big. Join host Brendan Byrne, space reporter at 90.7 WMFE in Orlando, Fla., as he explores the advances in human space exploration. From conversations with the engineers and scientists building the technology one day heading to Mars, to talks with visionaries and leaders who want to take humankind to deep space, the Are We There Yet? podcast reveals the next chapters in human space exploration.More from Are We There Yet? »

Most Recent Episodes

The Great Pluto Debate

The debate over Pluto's planethood has been reinvigorated once again, thanks to a new paper co-authored by a University of Central Florida planetary scientist. Back in 2006, the International Astronomical Union adopted new classification rules. In order for an object to be considered a planet it must be the largest gravitational force in its orbit. In Pluto's case, its orbit is influenced by neighboring Neptune, so according to the IAU, what was once our 9th planet is no longer a planet. Instead, Pluto is classified as a dwarf planet. Phil Metzger co-authored the paper that is re-examining the debate. He is a planetary scientist at the Florida Space Institute at UCF so he stopped by to talk about the paper and the case for classifying planets.

NASA's Next Generation Of Astronauts

Last week, NASA announced Commercial Crew mission assignments. The Commercial Crew program will launch astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011. NASA is doing it with private companies SpaceX and Boeing. In this episode we'll meet the astronauts flying on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner: Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Suni Williams, Josh Cassada and Eric Boe. Also, SpaceNews.com's senior staff writer Jeff Foust brings us up to speed on the latest developments of the Commercial Crew program ahead of a launch later this year.

A Mission To Touch The Sun

A spacecraft is about to launch on a mission to the sun, coming closer than any other spacecraft has ever come before and zooming through the solar system with mind-boggling speed. The Parker Solar Probe is being sent to our star to study its corona. Scientists hope they can uncover some of the mysteries of the corona and help better predict space weather. And because we probably won't get to any other stars anytime soon, scientists say they'll use the data from the mission to better understand the other stars in our universe. Parker launches from Kennedy Space Center August 11 on a ULA Delta IV Heavy. Ahead of the launch, we spoke with Alex Young, Associate Director for Science, Heliophysics Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Water On Mars

I'm sure you saw the headlines this week: "Water on Mars." It's a huge discovery on the red planet but what does it mean for our future exploration on Mars? A study published this week in Science unveiled the discovery of the possibility of an underground body of water. The findings are tantalizing to scientists who are searching for signs of life on the red planet or to use as a resource to create fuel for future human explorers. To break down the news we're joined by Dan Batchledor, head of physics at Florida Tech.

Now Is A Great Time To Check Out Mars

Like all planets, the Earth and Mars orbit the sun but they do it at different speeds. Earth orbits about twice as fast as Mars, so every two years or so, they catch up to each other. The Mars Opposition is happening at the end of this month. That means Mars and the sun are on opposite sides of the Earth, giving an up-close view of the red planet – the closest it has been in 15 years. To talk more about this event we're joined by Derek Demeter to the podcast. He's an astronomer, astrophotographer and Director of Seminole State College Planetarium in Central Florida.

Trouble On The HI-SEAS

A simulated Mars mission was cut short earlier this year after a crew member was injured. Just what happened in the fake Mars habitat in Hawaii and what does that mean for future experiments? Last year we spoke with a participant in the HI-SEAS experiment. That's the simulated Mars base camp that's actually in Hawaii. It's a chance for scientists to observe how people live in work in the simulated isolation of a future Mars mission. Well, the program was heading into its 6th mission back in February, but something happened that cut it short. Marina Koren is a science reporter at The Atlantic. Her piece When a Mars Simulation Goes Wrong takes a deep dive into what happened that halted the experiment and what this means for future martian analogs.

Bringing Gemini Home: Programming Re-entry

In the 1960s, it was up to programmers like Alice Schmidt to help bring Gemini capsules safely home. Schmidt was a member of an IBM programming team hired my NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center to analyze re-entry trajectories and guidance navigation to drop the Gemini capsule in a specific area in the ocean for recovery. The Gemini program was an important step in getting humans to the moon. Schmidt joins the podcast to talk about her work with NASA, what it was like being a female programmer, and just how her team figured out complicated computations using only punch cards and pencils.

Humans To Mars Summit

The Humans to Mars Summit wrapped up this week in Washington, D.C. It's a yearly meeting of the minds to chat all things Mars and what it's going to take to get people there. It included panels of folks talking all things space from mission architecture to social media. NASA's new administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke about his vision of human space exploration. Laura Forczyk is the founder of Astralytical a space consulting firm. She kept a watchful eye on the summit and joins the program to let us know just how we're going to get to Mars. Follow Laura on Twitter for great space industry insight!

Planning A Trip To Mars

NASA is poised to launch a robotic geologist to Mars. Before it blasts off, what goes into planning that trip? Caley Burke is a Trajectory Analyst for NASA's Launch Services Program. Her job is to map out InSight's trip to Mars. She joins us va Skype from the Kennedy Space Center to tell us just what goes into planning a Mars trajectory.

To Pluto And Beyond!

Where were you when you first saw Pluto? The New Horizons flyby back in the summer of 2015 had all eyes on the deep spacecraft exploring the outermost parts of our solar system. New Horizons launched in 2006 but it was years in the making, and it wasn't easy getting managers and administrators on board with the idea of exploring Pluto. "Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto" is a new book out this week that chronicles the triumphs and challenges of the mission that's now past Pluto and on it's way to it's next flyby: Ultima Thule, an object 43 AU or 4 billion miles away. Dr. Alan Stern is the Principle Investigator on New Horizons..and the co-author of the book. He joins the podcast to talk about the mission and the decades long path to reach Pluto.

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