In Depth: California and the Space Race

Segment One: Hal is joined by Peter Beck, the CEO of Long Beach based Rocket Lab.  Beck explains the projects that the company is working on - from 3-d printed rocket engines to helicopter-recovered launch vehicles.   He explains how their operation differs from SpaceX’s programs, and that they have been focusing on smaller and cheaper rockets, rolling one off the assembly line and shooting it into space about once a month. We touch on the new project, Neutron, which is a larger rocket that is still being developed, and  is being created from its very conception  to be a rocket that is recoverable by landing back at its launch location.

Segment Two: Peter Beck returns to talk to Hal about how the recent "space race" is affecting Southern California, which used to be the base of the aerospace industry during the boomtimes of the 1940’s thorough the 1970’s.   Beck says Rocket Lab is hiring and always looking for good talent.   He tells us a little about the Capstone mission to the moon and some upcoming projects to Mars and Venus.  Beck says he thinks the potential for space exploration is close to unlimited.

Segment Three: Dr. Tiffany Kataria, with Exoplanet Discovery and Science at JPL joins Hal to talk about the recent images sent from the James Webb telescope back to Earth.

Kataria says those are much more than just pretty pictures, though they show features of space in greater detail than we’ve ever seen.  We see how much clearer the pictures are than even the recent Hubble photos.

Kataria also explains what planet scientists can discern about exoplanets- that is, planets from outside our solar system- and how we can detect the chemical signature of elements on those planets that might indicate whether they are livable.  She says she is always interested in the possible detection of another Earth-like planet elsewhere in the universe and the James Webb might be giving us some clues.

Segment Four: Hal promotes his podcast and we end with visuals from several of Rocket Lab’s spectacular launches.