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

Exciting Year Ahead For Space Exploration

There's a bunch of exciting space exploration mission slated for 2018. From SpaceX's Falcon Heavy to NASA's next Mars lander, space enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to in the new year. Chris Gebhardt, NASASpaceflight.com's managing editor, joins the program to talk about all the exiting missions ahead this year. Highlights from Chris' 2018 watch list: Cassini Even thought Cassini crashed into Saturn last year, Gebhardt said there's still plenty to learn about the ringed planet. "Towards the latter part of it's final orbits, it was actually brushing up against the top of Saturn's atmosphere and dip-diving into Saturn," he said. "All of that data, while it was returned last year in the final days of Cassin's mission, scientists are analyzing it and looking at all of that." LightSail This Planetary Society-backed project hopes to provide spacecraft propulsion by harnessing the power of the sun in a space "sail". LightSail captures the particles released from the sun and uses them to push a sail through space. "Once it's in orbit, it's going to deploy this really huge sail relative to the size of the spacecraft itself. What they're going to try to do is use that sail to progressively raise that satellites orbit," said Gebhardt. The mission is slated for a launch on Falcon Heavy later this year. New Horizons Flyby In 20115, New Horizons thrust Pluto back into the spotlight after sending incredible images of the dwarf planet back to Earth. The spacecraft is now targeting a flyby of Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69. "This mission just keeps on giving in very surprising and intriguing ways," said Gebhardt. "It's revealing a lot about a region of the solar system that's very difficult to see." The flyby begins in the early hours of January 1, 2019 — but most of the prep is happening in 2018. NASA's InSight The InSight lander launches en route to Mars from South America in May, and when it gets there, it hopes to uncover how rocky planets of the inner solar system, including Earth, came to be more than four billion years ago. "What's really cool is that there are CubeSats going on this mission," said Gebhardt. The tiny satellites will be deployed right before the lander makes its final approach of the red planet, and they'll be used to help navigate the lander onto the surface of Mars and relay all that information back to Earth. "It's a really cool experiment to use CubeSats to really help maintain contact with landing spacecraft on another planet."

Life On The HI-SEAS

Before we send humans to Mars, it's probably a smart idea to do a few test runs first, right? That's what analogs are for. They're a great way to test the human aspect of space exploration. HI-SEAS is one of those analogs. The 'Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation' is a habitat on an isolated Mars-like site on the Big Island of Hawaii. The habitat is about 1,200 square feet and has a small sleeping quarters for a crew of six, as well as a kitchen, laboratory, simulated airlock and of course a bathroom. The location also has a geology similar to Mars, so a crew can perform similar 'outside' tasks as if they were on Mars. They have to suit up in an air lock and use space suits to step outside. Each mission in HI-SEAS looks to test the human factors of a Mars mission. The last mission, HI-SEAS V, was an 8 month stay for 6 test subjects. One of those test subjects was Brian Ramos. He's a Portuguese-American pursuing a life of exploration. He grew up in Rhode Island and holds dual engineering degrees in biomedical and electrical engineering.

Curiosity's Drill Broke. Now what?

Last year, Curiosity's drill broke. The Mars rover had used the drill to acquire sample material from Martian rocks 15 times so far. But a sensor that monitors the amount of force used on the arm that hold the drill failed. That means Curiousity can't tell if the drill bit is slipping or facing excessive force. Mission managers think they have a fix. Megan Richardson is an engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab who helped come up with a way to safely drill with Curiosity. She joins the podcast to talk about how the team figured out the solution and just how soon the rover's drill will get back to work.

After Scott Kelly's Year In Space, What's Next?

As scientist continue to sift through all that data from Scott Kelly's year in space, the next generation of astronauts are beginning to look to longer missions in deep space and more extreme environments like the surface of Mars. So what is next? What's Beyond the year in space? PBS documentary "Beyond a Year in Space" asked that very question and you can stream it online. One of those astronauts in the documentary who is looking at how to get humans farther into space is Jessica Meir. She was selected as an astronaut in 2013 and has a background in studying the physiology of animals in extreme environments. She joins the podcast to talk about how astronauts are training for long duration, deep space missions and what's ahead after a year in space.

Scott Kelly's Year In Space

If we're going to go to Mars, we're going to have to figure out how to live in space for a really long time. NASA ran an experiment on astronauts and twins Scott and Mark Kelly. They sent Scott up in space for nearly a year, and kept Mark on earth to see how bodies change in microgravity. What they found was Scott suffered from bone loss and new allergies to things like his own bed sheets. Back on earth, Scott Kelly spoke about some of the strange ways his body changed while up in space .and what's ahead for figuring out long-duration space flight.

Chasing Triton: A Night On NASA's SOFIA Aerial Observatory

When it comes to taking a clear picture of the sky it helps to be isolated. That's why astronomers have telescopes in remote locationsaway from light pollution and at a high altitude. But sometimes ground based telescopes aren't enough. There's a handful of space-based telescopes, but resources on those machines are limited. Somewhere in the middle is SOFIA. It's a modified 747-SP jumbo jet that hauls an 2.5 meter telescope into the stratosphere. Host Brendan Byrne got a chance to hitch a ride with the SOFIA crew as they chase the shadow of Triton, Neptune's moon.

Musk Updates Mars Plans, Pence Sends US To The Moon

Elon Musk has a new plan for Mars. The SpaceX founder unveiled his updated vision for Mars and more at this year's International Astronautical Conference. It's a bit more scaled down than before but still ambitious, in true Elon fashion. And just this week, the Trump Administration's National Space Council met for the first time, cementing the administration's plans to head to the moon. So what does this all mean for space exploration? Mashable's Deputy Science Editor Miriam Kramer joins the podcast to break it down. Be sure to follow Miriam on Twitter for more space news.

Web Series Explores What It Takes To Become An Astronaut

What does it take to become an astronaut? That's the question Loren Grush asked ahead of the production of the new web series "Space Craft." Loren is The Verge's space reporter and host of the new web series that explores the tech and training taking humans into deep space. We spoke earlier this month about the series and what she learned while producing the show. Watch all the episodes online.

Building A Mobile Launch Pad

The building of NASA's SLS rocket starts on the Mobile Launcher. It's a giant piece of machinery that is towed into the Vehicle Assemble Building. When the rocket is ready for launch, it's towed across Kennedy Space Center to the pad. This is the way it was done during Apollo and Shuttle. Now, NASA's Ground System Development and Operations (GSDO) is working to finalize the launcher ahead of Exploration Mission 1. So just what goes into building a movable launch pad? Construction Manager Mike Canicatti joins the podcast to bring us up to speed.

Piecing Together A Rocket Inside The Vehicle Assembly Building

Before NASA can launch its next big rocket, the Space Launch System, it has to put it together.

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