“Never panic early” is both Fred Haise’s motto and the title of his new memoir. Join us for a wonderful hour of stories about the Moon mission that almost didn’t make it home, along with Fred’s memories of the early days of the space shuttle, the International Space Station and much more. You’ll also have the chance to win a copy of his book when Bruce Betts arrives for What’s Up.
- “Never Panic Early: An Apollo 13 Astronaut’s Journey”
- Apollo 13: A successful failure
- Space Shuttle, the World’s First Reusable Spacecraft
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This Week’s Question:
Where in our solar system is a mountain named Kaplan?
This Week’s Prize:
A copy of “Never Panic Early: An Apollo 13 Astronaut’s Journey” by Fred Haise with Bill Monroe
To submit your answer:
Complete the contest entry form at https://www.planetary.org/radiocontest or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, April 20 at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.
Last week's question:
If you alphabetize the named moons of planets in our solar system, what moon would be listed last? Use the English alphabet.
The winner will be revealed next week.
Question from the Mar. 30, 2022 space trivia contest:
What is the sum of the following mission numbers: the first Apollo mission to orbit the Moon, the only space shuttle to land at White Sands, New Mexico and the first Mars orbiter?
The sum of the mission numbers for Apollo 8, first to orbit the Moon, STS-3, the only space shuttle to land at White Sands, New Mexico, and Mariner 9, the first spacecraft to orbit Mars, is 20.
Mat Kaplan: Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise, this week on Planetary Radio. I'm Mat Kaplan of The Planetary Society.
Speaker 2: Okay, we've had a problem here.
Speaker 3: This is Houston, say again, please.
Speaker 4: Houston, we've had a problem.
Mat Kaplan: That's how it started, it would become the greatest rescue in the history of space travel. NASA's successful failure. We'll hear about Apollo 13 from the inside as we talk for nearly an hour with Fred Haise. Fred will share many other stories, including his early work on the space shuttle and what would become the International Space Station. They are documented in his new and excellent memoir, Never Panic Early: An Apollo 13 Astronaut's Journey, written with Bill Moore. You'll get the chance to win a copy of Fred's book when we welcome Bruce Betts, for this week's What's Up.
Mat Kaplan: The Humans Tomorrow Summit returns to Washington DC on May 17th, this three day conference from our friends at Explore Mars will host an amazing collection of Martians, including NASA administrator, Bill Nelson, the director of NASAs planetary science division, Lori Glaze. Inspiration for astronaut, Sian Proctor. Astronaut and artist, Nicole Stott, and many other people you've heard on Planetary Radio.
Mat Kaplan: I'll be there co-hosting the webcast with Beth Mund of Casual Space, and moderating a couple of panels. I'd love to see you at the summit, you can check out the entire lineup and register at exploremars.org/summit. Here's a reminder that there's a new addition of The Downlink, The Planetary Society's weekly newsletter, every Friday. You'll find it at planetary.org/downlink. There's a link to our really wonderful LightSail documentary in the April 8th posting, along with a story about a French company called Gama that wants to build its own LightSail. They credit The Planetary Society's successful LightSail 2 for their effort, and hope to build on our design. Godspeed, Gama.
Mat Kaplan: Fred Haise will turn 89 in November of this year, he's lucky to who have made it past 36. That's how old he was when he, Commander Jim Lovell, and Jack Swigert set out for the moon on the third attempt to land there. Fred had helped develop the lunar module that he would pilot. Of course, they never touched down on the moon, but that lunar module nicknamed Aquarius, would say of their lives. The mission is only one of the many adventures Fred, has experienced and documented in his new book.
Mat Kaplan: We talked online a few days ago. By the way, you'll hear a technical hiccup that I decided to leave in the interview for reasons that should become obvious when you hear it. Fred Haise, it is a tremendous honor to be able to talk to you today on Planetary Radio. Thank you so much for joining us on the show.
Fred Haise: You're very welcome, I like your hat.
Mat Kaplan: Oh, so do I, thank you. My Planetary Society cap, we'll get you one of those, if you want one.
Fred Haise: Right.
Mat Kaplan: We're a bunch of space fans like you are. And I am a big fan of your new book, Never Panic Early: An Apollo 13 Astronaut's Journey. That title, Never Panic Early, it pops up over and over and over in the book. What did you mean by that title?
Fred Haise: Well, it's like you have problems of some kind that come up, it doesn't have to be in an airplane or even in space as you saw it, but could be all at once a family emergency, somebody's suddenly has an accident or whatever. You should never do anything drastic too soon that you really need to stop and survey this situation, in the case of an aircraft or spacecraft, look at all the systems, look at the meters and try to figure out better what really went wrong. So when you take action, you take the right action to not make the problem worse, but really work at solving the problem at hand.
Mat Kaplan: I suspect that's going to come up again, not just when we talk about your Apollo mission, but also some of the other events that have happened in your life. Let's start at the beginning though, because the book begins way back there. You were a pretty cute kid growing up there in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Fred Haise: Yeah, it was a small town, 14,000 people at the time and quiet. It was the kind of town even though you were pretty free to run around, or a child run around anywhere, I was pretty loose during the day, if I wasn't at school to go anywhere. Later I had a bicycle and it's small enough I could cover the whole place with the bicycle. School grounds were our playgrounds, we didn't have many city playgrounds. And the only rule I had was approaching dusk, which was normally approaching supper time, dinnertime, I had to be home. That was about the only rule I had.
Mat Kaplan: Not bad. Sounds like a pretty good childhood for a future astronaut. You were inspired by none other than Buck Rogers.
Fred Haise: Well, I wasn't inspired to go in space, I just enjoyed that cereal. There was a Saturday cereal at the Buck Theater in Biloxi that showed a cowboy show and then only showed the Looney Tunes cartoon. And then had the cereal and one of them was Buck Rogers and his space adventures, where he would run into trouble. And as I said in the book, he'd hop in his rocket and literally push one button and be off and away to escape. And I later found that it wasn't simple as pushing one button there.
Mat Kaplan: He never had to limp back home either in his spaceship, I think. I'm going to skip way forward. You talked about your early military experience becoming a pilot and how sorry you were that you missed the Korean War, that you weren't able to fight along with a lot of the other people that you worked with.
Fred Haise: Well, we were trained. Was in a fighter squadron and fighter attack. And so you were trained to execute missions that would deliver bombs, or rockets, or strafe, or whatever. And I had all that training and never got to use it. And I felt even guilty more so during the Vietnam War, when many of my friends who were in the reserve unit, where we got called in '61, stayed on and ended up in Vietnam. And of course, in combat, and I never really got to serve in combat, where you might be shot at or shoot at somebody else. I felt guilty as friends were there. In fact, I had one friend who was shot down twice up in North Korea. Rescued twice, picked him up, that's the kind of feeling I had that I missed out and should have gone like my friends went.
Mat Kaplan: In my book, you more than made up for it. But I understand. How did landing on an aircraft carrier compare with preparing to land on the moon?
Fred Haise: Well, I didn't get to land on the moon, but I assume the commander's landing had high adrenaline flow because they all had to take over manually and move to find a decent place to put it down away from either small craters, or rocks that were not visible from up high. Carrier was the same way, there were quite a lot of precision. You had to operate at a slow speed near the stall to come aboard. It was really a precise setup to get to the point, where you cut the throttles and slammed onto the deck. I had the same way, you had a lot of adrenaline going as you were coming around on final to get set up and execute the landing.
Mat Kaplan: You know who's really especially going to love this book? Other pilots. Pilots like... Hello? My computer screen just went blank. I don't know what happened there.
Fred Haise: I'm here, I'm still here.
Mat Kaplan: I've never seen that happen before, but-
Fred Haise: Oh. Houston, we have a problem.
Mat Kaplan: Yeah, I'd say never panic early, right? I don't know what happened there? And I've lost the waveform display on my machine. Here's that hiccup I warned you about. And here's how we recovered from it. Fred Haise, guy who made it through Apollo 13, we just had a technical difficulty here, but there you are. So that motto of yours, what is it again?
Fred Haise: Never panic early.
Mat Kaplan: How appropriate. Well, let me get back to the question that I was just about to ask you. I'd actually started to ask you. The group of people in my mind who are especially going to enjoy this book are pilots like one of my dear brothers. I mean, were there any planes of that era that you didn't fly?
Fred Haise: I guess, you'd have to classify planes like different families. You had transports and bombers, the big aircraft, that were handling qualities wise, I call it, how you flew them when you had the stick in your hand. They tended to be heavier on the controls, they weren't as maneuverable. On purpose, actually, the way they were designed. Whereas fighters were crisper, wanted to have high maneuverability, tight turns, high roll rates and fairly low stick forces, stick and rudder both. Again, by design.
Fred Haise: If I took the families, I had the favorite airplane a fighter I flew, just because it was so natural was the F-86 Sabrejet. It was before the era of all the computer and the software algorithms that are in most modern day fighters, that virtually the bare airframe aircraft probably is unflyable and the computer and the algorithms and thereby the flight control designer have made it seem to fly well. Whereas probably, if computers weren't there, you couldn't even fly it, be uncontrollable.
Fred Haise: But the 86, without much augmentation was just nice. You felt at home, and that aircraft almost immediately had trimmed well, could do things you wanted it to do to hold an attitude in the bank, hold an air speed, or hold an altitude was good. Even some of the fighter type things of holding a gun site or pepper on the target steady, those sort of things. It was a great fighter.
Mat Kaplan: Sounds like it was fun, actually, fun to fly. You either have the most amazing memory of anyone I've met, or you've kept copies of all of your flight logs because the details that you provide throughout this book are so amazing. It's like reading a flight log in many cases.
Fred Haise: Well, I had a lot of background information when, for instance, the part where I discussed being at Grumman testing lunar modules, when they finished manufacturing and we were getting them ready to ship to the Kennedy to go launch. I actually kept a daily diary during that period for a year. And also had written memos. Ed Mitchell, who landed on the moon on the Apollo 14, and I were doing that work. And they ballot a system engineer. We wrote regular memos to Jim McDivitt, who was going to command the very first LEM on Apollo 9 in lunar orbit.
Fred Haise: And we did formal more memos to him monthly, roughly, to keep him advised on how his LEM was going. Because that was our marching orders, to make sure I got a good LEM to fly. Similarly, I wrote a lot of handwritten notes when I was in the program office working for the program director for the Orbiter space shuttle for four years. And then during approaching landing test, I wrote 31 crew notes, I called them. I had that information to use and rely on to write some of the narrative.
Mat Kaplan: The details that you go into, I think are one of the things that make this book so special. And it really is going to be a great fun for anybody who's a fan, not just of the Apollo program or who followed your mission, Apollo 13, but really across the board. I'm also thinking of all the great characters in the book, because you knew so many of these great pilots and astronauts. We can't go through all of them, but just to provide a couple of examples, you spent a good deal of time with a guy that I met only once, Chuck Yeager, of course, the first human being to break the sound barrier.
Fred Haise: Yeah, Chuck, it happened that when I went to the Aerospace Research Pilot School called ARPS, or A-R-P-S at Edwards Air Force Base, it turned out for a year, Chuck was the commandant. He was head of the school. I did get to fly with Chuck one time, I described in the book. I saw him almost every day just going down the hallways or something or passing by seeing him in his office. But I didn't have a regular steady work scope that was going on in school that Chuck was involved with. He was the big boss.
Fred Haise: After his accident, he had an accident in the F-104 with a rocket motor attached, where he ended up in a spin and had to eject. In fact, I was flying that day shooting practice like X-15 approaches with a 104 to the late Bennet Rogers. And I saw that flash of fire over to the west and I called it out. I called crash, crash to the Edwards Tower. At the time, I didn't realize that was the airplane that Chuck had been in. And later with my boss, Joe Walker, who set out the two record in the X-15, we visited Chuck in the hospital, where he had been burned in his neck area from some of the hot coals that came out the ejection seat motor after he ejected.
Mat Kaplan: You had your own experience with some burns after a mishap with an airplane years later, I just want to mention one other person there, there's so many we could pick, but I'm thinking of Bruce McCandless, first person to do an untethered space walk, which you mentioned in the book, but you had an adventure with him in the jungles of Panama. Can you tell us about that?
Fred Haise: Bruce, well, first of all, the way those exercises was set up being in the jungle or we had desert also, they organized you to be in a crew of three, just like we would in the capsule as if you had done in the board and landed in a desert or landed in a jungle and put you out there, just the three of you. And they put us in different areas among our original 19, who were going through this excise in Panama. And I inherited Bruce and built the car for this almost a week to live in the jungle.
Fred Haise: And Bruce, it turned out was an avid really, I call him almost a professional bird watcher. And of course, he loved things of nature of all sorts. And Bruce kept wandering off, hunting for things, unfortunately for him and for us, most of the food we might have captured lived in the overhead in the jungle. It was a thick blanket of overhead, we could hear things chirping up there.
Fred Haise: And so a lot of the animals really lived upstairs, where we couldn't get at them, but he was out hunting and foraging to what he might find that would be of interest. And was it got near dark, well, of course, we got worried. Bruce find his way back, because there were no street signs, but so we ended up just blowing a whistle, we had a whistle in our survival gear. Every 10 minutes or so, you thought that sound would give Bruce a clue of the direction to get back home for the night.
Mat Kaplan: That's fascinating. And of course, you all made it back safely. Thank goodness. I'm going to jump forward now to what everybody's been waiting for. What were you doing when you heard that loud bang on the way to the moon?
Fred Haise: At the time I was in the Luna module, we had just completed a TV show that was scheduled and we had pulled out some of the things in storage to talk about. It was kind of like a show and tell, I was visibly trying to put stuff back away that I had pulled out when this bang happened. Jim was I think just transposing back to the command module and when this happened through the tunnel. Jack was alone in the command module and the only one on communication at the time and he made the first call at Houston, we had a problem here. Jim got back up and they had not answered. And I think it was because the high gain antenna got hit when that panel went off and it broke communication for a little bit and Jim repeated the call. Very quickly I left the limb and floated back up to my right couch position to again, to survey what was going on.
Mat Kaplan: And you knew something was seriously wrong. I guess, you didn't really realize how bad it was at first, but things went downhill pretty quickly, right?
Fred Haise: Right, we knew the bang obviously was abnormal, vehicle actually shook quite a bit with the vibration and started trying to move from the thrust that had been imparted from the panel of quarter of the spacecraft blowing off the service module and thrusters with 100 pound thrusters were firing to hold attitude. When I got to the panel, it was confusing looking at the caution warning lights. There were about six or seven on, very quickly surveying what was in front of me in the right couch was the cryogenics fuel cells, some of the environmental system and all the power for the systems.
Fred Haise: It was apparent from the meetings on several meters that we had lost oxygen tank two. Now that in itself was not life threatening, because tank one looked intact. As it turned out somehow, and we never really knew it, it developed this very slowly and was what would eventually go down and lose all this oxygen too, but we didn't know it. It was not night threatening, but I was just sick to my stomach with disappointment because I knew immediately a loss of one of the two tanks men in the board. And we would not even go in the Luna orbit, much less land. I'd done a lot of training through two previous submissions to get go the fly and didn't, and here was my big chance and it went away in an instant.
Mat Kaplan: You'd prepared for so many things in that extensive training years of training that you and the other Apollo astronauts got. But the really, this was something special, right? I mean, this led all that amazing ingenious improvisation, thank God was able to get you guys home.
Fred Haise: Right, the failures were obviously considered throughout the design phase, reliability engineering that headed it with written reports called failure mean effects analysis on all the failures you can consider happening valves open, failed open, failed close, or short electric shocks, and explosions were considered primarily thinking about rocket engines, which are obviously have a high opportunity maybe to do that. And the manifestation always of the failure and early in the design that's often changed the design, or added redundancy, or added instrumentation to the vehicle.
Fred Haise: But in the case of explosions, the answer was, you're going to lose the vehicle and you're going to lose the crew. That was the answer. Here we had an explosion that gave mission control and people on the ground, a big problem, because they didn't lose the crew. We were still there breathing and had the unusual situation of losing the mothership, the command and service module, because when the auction ran out of tank one, obviously we had to shut it down. Jack Swigert actually did that. We left him power up to limb and to preserve the three small entry batteries that were to get you through entry. This was obviously nothing we had ever planned for and any of the simulations that we had done for this particular failure.
Mat Kaplan: We got to remind people that nobody knew how badly the service module was damaged until you were nearly back at earth and were able to separate back off from it. And you saw that panel blown to smithereens basically. I mean, how did that feel at that moment when you saw just how bad it was?
Fred Haise: It was a shock really to see that much damage or literally one quarter of the spacecraft, the service module had come off and we could see within what the area left, charred, torn, thermal blankets, some cables loose. It was obviously that hit the high gain antenna and it even looked like there was a discoloration on the SPS engine bell, maybe as it swung, the panel swung to the round as it peeled off and maybe hit at that even.
Mat Kaplan: That was the main engine.
Fred Haise: That's the main engine on the service module. It was really surprising that we hadn't even felt more dynamics at the time with what we saw.
Mat Kaplan: You say in the book that something over 25 years after the accident, you listened again to the recording of your communications with mission control and that you could hear a change in the tone from your astronaut colleagues, the capsule communicators. I don't know if you noticed it at the time while you were on board, while you were still in the middle of the mission, but they must have been pretty worried about you guys.
Fred Haise: Actually what I listened to years later was the inter loops, the astronaut Capcom is on the air to ground loop. But within mission control, there is a support room off to the society. Even outside of mission control with the supporting experts for the various 28 people in mission control. And that loop is private, it never go public. I managed to get those and listen to the chatting back and forth with the various disciplines when they was trying to shut the vehicle down, because the mothership was never supposed to be shut down, so there was no procedure on how to shut it down.
Fred Haise: They had to ad lib that part of it, and it was remarkable to me that they were professionally arguing back and forth on what steps to take and what order, they didn't want to damage anything. It was in their minds, because they were already thinking we're going to get this thing powered back up later. I didn't know quite yet when that was going to be, but we want to preserve its integrity so we can do that.
Fred Haise: They had not given up the ship, although when it got to a point of troubleshooting earlier the first hour, really, they were troubleshooting and having us do different things on board to try to stop the leak in tank one. When they had run out of ideas on that was when I heard the different change in some of the voices discussing at that point they knew they had run out of ideas and were, I guess, deflated, because they knew they had lost the battle to stop the leak and they were going to have to shut down the command module.
Mat Kaplan: I wonder if it wasn't a little bit of a blessing that this happened on the way to the moon so that you and mission control had days to figure things out rather than on the way back when you wouldn't have, maybe wouldn't have had that opportunity. Of course, at least you would've walked on the moon by then if all had gone well. There's a downside too, but it really seems like they needed that time to make sure you were going to be able to get back.
Fred Haise: Well, mainly we needed a limb. If we had landed in the moon, first of all, in [inaudible 00:24:47] and that happened, we could have not have gotten out of Luna orbit with just the little asset engine and what fuel was left. And of course, the little acid engine couldn't have maybe covered the time, even if the SPS engine, somehow we got out of lunar orbit. If we were out Luna orbit and as the asset stage that was left, it may have been not sufficient for the time remaining to get back to entry.
Mat Kaplan: It was that dear lunar module that was able to get you home. One of my favorite photos in the book maybe is unexpected, certainly was unexpected for me. It was a card with a bunch of your hand printed arithmetic. What were you up to?
Fred Haise: Well, after the very first maneuver we did with Jim, executed using the decent engine, wasn't a very long burn, was to get us back on that path to loop around the moon, to get us sort of now we're in nice coasting flight and at least had a path the way home. Jim asked me to compute consumables, how much electric power, how much water that would get us home. Because we knew at that time it was going to be a much longer mission than we ended up with, because of the later maneuver we did it cut some time off and I did not compute auction, because we had lots of oxygen.
Fred Haise: We had two full backpacks we're going to use on EVAs, an emergency bottle on each. That was probably a one day supply in themselves. But the water and power for the six batteries in the limb, I computed the water more for cooling equipment with the coal plates under electronics and not for drinking particularly. And I had us making it barely with power and I ran out of water based on curves I had of the water usage for a given amperage level power level.
Fred Haise: But any rate this little card you're talking about was actually for a different purpose. That was what we call a burn card, or a maneuver card, where you log the stuff you're going to do for next use of the engine through the computer. And at the bottom, it hit a blank area that I used to do all as hand scratching with plain old grocery store arithmetic. I used that card, incidentally, if I can use to a PowerPoint when I talked to children in school to make them aware of that, arithmetic does really come in handy sometimes, because plain old arithmetic and that's because we didn't have calculator on board. I did this by hand.
Mat Kaplan: I love that you being used as a little demonstration for kids, or has been ever since. I have always been fascinated by the solutions that you and the people on the ground came up with, using whatever was available, cellophane, a pair of socks, that was new to me, a duct tape, of course. All of this stuff that came together through a lot of ingenious, I mean, really genius activity. I mean, I bet you won't disagree.
Fred Haise: No, that was one of the things I complained about when I got to talk to Ron Howard, after they had the private showing. Was that he had not showed a big enough cast and a few people I had in mind, particularly that played big roles were not in the movie. And of course, he explained quickly that they have only two hours or a little over, you can only develop so many characters. You have to pick and choose who would make the best character on media.
Fred Haise: And because there was a larger group, even phone consulting, probably back to the manufacturers that actually designed and built the vehicles and beyond mission control and mission control itself had four teams on each missions. There were four flight directors supporting every mission. They picked Gene Krantz's white team as the preferred one to show in the movie. There were NASA engineers and they had a separate room and a different building from mission control, right next door building 45, where there was the MER, the mission evaluation room.
Fred Haise: Whereas a host of some program office people as well as engineers that as I said, could communicate back to those prime contractors who had built the vehicles and also communicated with subcontractors who had some of the key systems, knowledge they needed. The MER was interesting place, there was a double doors going in and they had a sign over the door that said, "God is welcome, all others bring data."
Mat Kaplan: That's terrific, you made me think of some other people who helped out, who weren't anywhere near mission control. We have a lot of listeners in Canada, could you say something about what happened? The people at the University of Toronto, who also helped to get you home?
Fred Haise: Right, one problem to address was separating the Luna module as we got close to entry, actually, and the normal way you would do that, you would release the latches and use the small 100 pound thrusters on the service module, which was the one that blew up and used those thrusters to back away, to get clearance. Well, of course, the service module we'd already separated at the of time. So we just had the upper half of the limb left.
Fred Haise: And so you couldn't use that normal method. And alternate scheme was to pressurize the tunnel in the tunnel area between the hatches of the two vehicles and then to explosively separate in the tunnel to separate vehicles, and let that extra pressure give the push to the Luna module for separation. And the concern was what pressure to use to not cause a leak in one of the hatches, obviously not the hatch we were in on a command module without being suited.
Fred Haise: And one of the Grumman people in research heard about the problem and he called his friends, his colleagues at the University of Toronto who were shock dynamic experts that could tackle that kind of problem and got the information to them. They in turn called a colleague of theirs at the University of California, who similarly was a shock dynamics type discipline. And they both went to work and neither had obviously ever been involved in the space program per se, particularly not Apollo.
Fred Haise: And they voluntarily produced data, and I met with the group. One had passed away years later, one was on travel, but I met with four of the six that had worked at University of Toronto. And they showed me the curves the day that they still had of their analysis at a dinner I had with the people. And it was the way it was. I mean, there was probably some more stories that I've never uncovered, of people even outside the program that volunteered knowledge, or help consulting in some way to provide data. NASA of course, had done their own analysis and I'm not sure which of the three, or how they were used to give us what pressure to use in the tunnel.
Mat Kaplan: Here's a line from the chapter that tells this story. It was clear that they mission control and all of these as other people back on the ground had not given up on getting us back to earth. Did you ever doubt it?
Fred Haise: Well, yes. I doubted and I'm sure they doubted it. You work as hard as you can to work problems at hand that are, call it open items to come to some conclusion and develop the procedures. But there was no assurance along the way for solving these things. But I think the spirit was there that we were going to solve them no matter what. And of course, they lost a lot of sleep, many people on the ground, they got less than I got in flight, trying to struggle to get these things worked out and tested.
Fred Haise: In some cases actually did live testing like the lithium cartridge fix. There was a chamber in building 9, building 7, rather at Johnson that had a chamber with a [lemon 00:33:18] environmental system. And they actually put the cartridge fix in there and impregnated it with abundance of CO2 and ran it to make sure that it would get rid of the CO2. Things were done that way before we ever got the procedures to implement.
Mat Kaplan: Right on this point, your computer, your other electronics that you had available to you, even though they were the best available back then, they were crazy primitive to compared to what we have now. I mean, my little watch has a lot more power than your computer. You say something very interesting though about this. And here's that sentence from the book. Even with all of the increased computing memory and the advent of artificial intelligence over the years since, I think only a human mind could have come up with some of the ideas that got us home.
Fred Haise: Yeah, certainly it was, it was adlibbing as you said earlier to make use of what was no own to be on board. And actually it was available listing by compartment on board. What was there to be available to use, although even beyond that, to create the mailbox for the lithium hydroxide removal, they actually used backs of checklists to form a stiff platinum chamber to hook up to the intake hose of the limb to be able to do that extraction. They went beyond what we call it normal storage was in the vehicle.
Mat Kaplan: So it all worked, thank God, you come back to this tremendous celebration, the whole world was celebrating, sadly you weren't in great shape. You were under the weather, could you describe what happened?
Fred Haise: Well, I developed urinary tracking, in spite of all the effort we do with white suits and trying to keep the vehicles clean through all the testing and getting it ready for launch. There's still open there, they're exposed to air, and of course, right now where we're sitting is probably some germs sitting floating around. And of course, there were some in the capsule and they got in my urinary track and I developed this UTI, a urinary tract infection and had chills of fever for about a day and a half on the way back in.
Mat Kaplan: Sorry, you had to spend that time miserable when everybody else was celebrating. I imagine you were still had room to have some relief and feel pretty happy about how things happened.
Fred Haise: Oh, absolutely. Although still in the back of my mind, I was most happy about the way when I saw some of the media reports after splash down, how it had been received, because these missions cost considerable money and this was NASA first and our minds, at least at the time failure, we had not accomplished what we plan to do, to land on the moon at this from our area. And we worried there might be a very negative connotation to that in the general public, and even to a point of maybe causing the demise and the program in some way. I was elated to see that it was not looked that way, it was looked at what it was, people in problem, and a great challenge overcome by a team that worked diligently to have a successful ending, at least what counted to a splash down in our survival.
Mat Kaplan: Anyone you could walk away from, right?
Fred Haise: Right, exactly.
Mat Kaplan: I was just a kid still for Apollo 13, but I was one of those who was never left the television or except to go to school. I guess, I was jumping for joy. When you guys splashed down that day, Fred Haise has many more stories to share when we return in less than a minute.
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Mat Kaplan: I'm going to go forward though now, a few years to the approach and landing tests of the space shuttle and that very first test article, the one given the name Enterprise. And I'm thinking of that first captive flight when Enterprise stayed on the back of the 747 followed by the first free flight, when it was released above Edwards, when it become Edwards Air Force Base, formerly Rogers.
Mat Kaplan: I was there, I was standing on the lake bed crazy close to where you guys took off and landed. We reporters were so close and so focused on you guys, we didn't notice the T-38 chase plane that flew right over our heads, knocked us down into the dirt, but man, that was one of the greatest days of my life. When we saw you coming back, floating back down to the dry lake bed, let me tell you, it was a great experience.
Fred Haise: It was a great day for me as well. I had worked in a day different way for four years. I went into what you want to call it pseudo program management. I left the astronaut office and went to the orbiter project office and worked as I said, four years during that design development of shuttle. For the most of the time, obviously on Enterprise and Columbia through the preliminary design review in Columbia and through the critical design review on Enterprise.
Fred Haise: And then it was obviously a great to be chosen as one of the two crews to fly the vehicle through the test flights, which frankly was really back to my love before when NASA's a test pilot, as an aircraft test program really. And proved the combination of aerodynamic, the aerodynamic qualities of the vehicle. But probably the biggest challenge we had was getting the four computers to work in unison.
Fred Haise: It was a system that about four computers voting each other. And we almost gave up on it. The fact that a point we said, "We're not going to make schedule flying and maybe go to single string," you have one single string primary, one single string backup system. But finally, one of the IBM later releases that I think I wrote in the book B23 was the one that all at once stabilized, and we never had problems there after keeping the computers together. But that was a big, big challenge, just getting that part of the system running right.
Mat Kaplan: Flying that orbiter back down to the lake bed, that had to be about as different as could be from flying an F-86 fighter.
Fred Haise: Not the handling quality, it was kind of a medium airliner in terms of its Christmas of the controls. And it was tighter in terms with handling qualities and handling qualities quality than we'd seen in any of the simulations. It flew very well, as a glider it was the equivalent with initially with the Tailcone on... It was pretty good glider, much better than say the F-86 or the later Tailcone Off orbiter.
Fred Haise: In fact, first flight was over five minutes along on that glide down to the lake bed. And handling qualities near the ground in one bugaboo you're worried about as ground effect as you get near the ground, whether suck into the ground for a harder than landing plant or a balloon you, which in our case is bad, because no engines to preserve speed that's gliding off or even go around. That turned out to be just about perfect, a nice cushioning and you could almost let go of the controls and it would land. It was a beautiful flying machine as it turned out.
Mat Kaplan: Were you ever sorry that they didn't keep that concept from the early designs for the shuttle orbiter that added a couple of turbo jets that would've allowed you to have more control and maybe I guess, even to come back around and give it a second try?
Fred Haise: Right, that was there in the design initially, we also had abort rockets. You could go off to pay it. And we also deleted for weight. We could not afford to weight, but we also found out through the later studies and simulations, we had a footprint good enough coming out of blackout that we would always be within glide distance of the field. That was one of the concerns that would come out of blackout, where we didn't have navigation. And the first time we did it, we'd find we're too far away from a field to get to land. And that the jet engines of course, would be a help there to get you where you could make the approach in landing. But we got confidence in the navigation we had on board that that would not be required. And of course, they were a weight penalty, serious weight penalty to have the jet engines.
Mat Kaplan: When I was back at Edwards for the first landing of Colombia, one of the greatest things I ever saw, and it's a photo that's hanging on the wall in my office is Shuttle Enterprise. That test article that you flew surrounded by people, just regular citizens, the people who paid for it, because of that, it's just a treasure to me. I think it represents how the American public and others embrace that program. And to a large degree still embrace space travel, space exploration.
Fred Haise: No, it was a versatile vehicle that we really, we don't have that capability and anything we have today to not just carry things up and launch them, but to retrieve of satellites who have done that, or as we've gone, we've gone back up a couple of times to repair space telescope and make it do the wonders things and sightings it's done as well as upgrade it. The second flight went up and replace some of the avionics to make it even better. We don't have anything quite that yet to look on the horizons, at least reality, that can do those kind of missions.
Mat Kaplan: Pretty spectacular spacecraft. I'm only sorry that our time is limited, because I could spend another half hour talking to you about your experiences with the shuttle and probably another hour with Apollo 13. But I got a few other questions I want to try and get to. You left NASA after 20 years, you realized it'd be several more years before you'd have a chance to fly a shuttle orbiter and went to Grumman. It was before it became Northrop Grumman, of course. And they kept you real busy as a vice president. Didn't they?
Fred Haise: Yeah, and I spent four years at New York, where Grumman Corporate was, as you say, running space programs. Some of it was new to me, I was always involved in programs that already existed or even operations of things. And a big part of my job was new business. And that's a practice where companies do studies, some on their own, but some couple with minor contracts with the customer to really, if you want to call, do the groundwork to invent the program and make it happen, which also includes as you get a little further into it, some lobbying with Congress to help NASA through their budget cycles, to make that program become reality, where you now get to actually do the finished design and build it.
Fred Haise: One of the things for instance, we sold for the shuttle was to manipulate a foot restraint. This is the on the end of the RMS arm that you see astronauts perched on to do work on satellites, that kind of thing. Actually had a simulator, several astronauts we had come to Grumman and try it out, where we could replicate the dynamics on the arm for what work they were doing. So they could see how much jiggling or the dynamics or they would encourage using tools to do some task while perched on this simulator. We did studies though, for things like I mentioned, one that would someday maybe happen, but be very dramatic and good for the green folks was a solar power satellite.
Mat Kaplan: Oh yeah.
Fred Haise: That's where you launch, and of course, the big drawback was to have the boost capability, but to build this large array of solar power, the one we're looking at, at the time in the study was size of Manhattan. That would be geosynchronous orbit and be providing 24 hours a day, solar powered beamed down by microwave, or infrared to a station in the ocean and then cabled back to land. Of course, that's a lot of mass to put up there and it would take again a cheap boost capability to even begin to make it economical.
Fred Haise: But of course, once in place you had a lot of free power. We actually looked at in study, it was interesting. Rather than pre-bill the bean structure, the solar cells would be mounted on for that size object. The system trade was, you would build it up there, where you build a beam making machine that would go up and bring raw material up. And so you'd build the whole thing on orbit, who knows if that'll ever come to pass for real.
Mat Kaplan: I think there have been some, almost attempts at that just on a test basis, up on the international space station, and who knows? Maybe we will still see a solar power station someday, especially as it costs less and less to get a pound or a kilogram up up there above the earth. You were also there weren't you in the early troubled days of what was then known as Space Station Freedom. I mean, am I right to call them troubled?
Fred Haise: Well, the trouble was financial. Four years I ran the system engineering integration contract for Grumman on the ISS, not the ISS, but Space Station Freedom, it was known as at time. And every year it was a fight for NASA, which we supported and at any way we could to get through the congressional committees and through the budget cycle to keep us going. We never could make the breakthrough during my time there to get the step up and funding.
Fred Haise: You can play with design, and we restructured the vehicle on paper a couple of times during my period to try to take things out, to make it cheaper, but to actually make the bigger step from what we call phase B to phase C, where you really think about building. It takes a peek up in the [punny 00:48:50]. And we never could get traction to make that step. So we did a lot of paper studies and not studies, but changes in the design during that period of the four years.
Fred Haise: And it wasn't until the Russians joined the program later that the funding was pretty much by the program plan to get it built. It was tough because of the morale with that very publicized problem in the newspapers that our workers could see. And I was doing a lot of work, mainly as morale officer in my spare time, to try to retain the engineers I had acquired and nationwide recruiting to build up the engineers ahead in Washington to have them stay on a job.
Fred Haise: Because they had them worried about this, is the program going to survive? One year, if one vote had changed and the House of Representatives, there would be no space station today. Things like that. There would highly public in the Washington Post. And most of the other periods, where I had people at integration offices at four NASA centers, same way smaller workforce, but I had people there that support the integration and they felt the same way as this program really last.
Mat Kaplan: But it worked. Do you ever go outside now and wait and watch that little point of light pass overhead. I hope that you take some pride in knowing that you and your team laid the groundwork for that space station, where people have now been living for well over 20 years.
Fred Haise: Yes, I am proud and I'm amazed in some ways that we managed to get the interface documents for how this thing all came together correct from a standpoint of just not just a mechanical meeting of all the parts, but all a throughput of data alliance, plumbing, cooling air, that sort of stuff that all meshed and fit together. One thing I really worried about that you'd get the next part up, next module and it wouldn't fit. And the shuttle couldn't hang around very long to make that happen. I was happy that that was accomplished which was a big part and concern and challenge to make sure that never happened.
Mat Kaplan: Definitely getting us ready to go back to the moon and on Mars someday. I got just a couple of other questions, but there's one little sidelight I have to mention, because I think it was during this period in your corporate career, when you gave a tour to a certain science fiction author, a guy who was on this show many times before we lost him, the great Ray Bradbury. And how did you interact with him?
Fred Haise: Ray was gracefully replied to my request for him to be a chief speaker at the large by banquet affair we had for an annual event called the Space Congress in Cocoa Beach. It was a three day event and I happened to be that year the chairman, got it all ready to go and I needed various events, I needed speakers. And I thought of Ray as a great guy for the banquet event. As an aside from that, I got to take him and I wanted to take him on a tour of the real space stuff out at Kennedy Space Center, which was shuttle.
Fred Haise: And so I took him through the processing facilities, particularly the OPF, which is the hanger that shuttles was being reworked in. And of course, the launch pad and there was a vehicle underway getting ready for the next launch and the OPF. And he went in and of course, if you've seen flown orbiters, they show some of the battle where he ascends on the fuselage of their last flight. It's real spacecraft, he got underneath and looked up and scanned this vehicle. And actually tears came to his eyes, because he had written of course about even more marvelous vehicles that went to Mars and wherever. But this is the first time he had really seen a real, real space craft. That one that had flown in space. And of course, to him, I guess this was a big, big day.
Mat Kaplan: I know the feeling, tomorrow as we speak, I'm going to be back underneath Shuttle Endeavor that orbiter for Yuri's night, at the California Science Center will already have happened by the time people hear this. Every time I walk into that room and just overhead out of reach, you can see those burned tiles on the bottom of that craft that carried humans into orbit above our earth. It is almost overwhelming, I mean, it brings tears to as well. My colleagues at The Planetary Society are going to be very pleased to learn that you end the book with your concern for defending our planet from asteroids. It's something we talk about a lot on this show, including with your old friend and fellow Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweikart, I guess, I need to thank you for that.
Fred Haise: Rusty, I obviously worked on that theme a lot longer than my thoughts about it. It's one of these things that's real, but it is like I asked people in general and of course, US government and the governments in general say, "Well, it's probably not going to happen on my watch beyond my time, and I'm not going to do anything serious to worry about it." But I think we've gotten to know things better, including our visits. And I'm amazed at the missions that have been flown with some very lengthy rendezvous [inaudible 00:54:41] years in fact, to get to a comet, or a larger meteorite and shoot pictures of it, or even we landed at a couple, I guess, we got one that's coming back with samples.
Mat Kaplan: Very soon.
Fred Haise: But that's just amazing that we've got that knowledge base and we have, I guess, near it is a mission on the way that's going to go up and nudge, a small satellite around the bigger asteroid. To look at the physics and the dynamics of that nudge to better appreciate how we might attack it when we have to, if we have to for a much bigger one where we would send something up to do a similar thing to make it avoid hitting earth. Scary thing is those interlopers, we've had a interloper come through that is from somewhere else and we don't even know where it came from that.
Fred Haise: I guess some of the alien folks thinkers thought it may have been an alien passing through our solar system. But those things are bad, because we may not get much time to know they're coming. Most of the larger ones, at least, are always asteroids, we track, we understand that. And know when we might be threatened, could know when we might be threatened. But these interlopers, we may not get much warning that they're heading in to our solar system. It will be nice we have a capability, and to me it's an international problem to worry about not just US to think of having not just one capability for defense, but you need to have several, because the first one you send may be a failure. And so you like to have a backup at least to make a second attempt at these things. Earth had some smaller ones, I have near misses even lately.
Mat Kaplan: We sure have, thank you for that. I got just one more question for you. Forgive me if I am off base here. When I was talking to about that tour you gave to Ray Bradbury, and my own reaction when I walk up to the space Shuttle Endeavor and stand beneath it, you took off your glasses, you wiped your eyes a little bit. I don't know, maybe it's just allergies, but I wonder if you were feeling what I did, because you say in the book that you were usually a no nonsense, just the facts kind of guy. And yet there was one view from Odyssey, your command module that really took your breath away. I'm guessing, it was one of those emotional moments?
Fred Haise: Well, I say matter of fact, to me the mission I flew in space was just an extension of my airplane experience. You needed altimeter that read a little higher and you had some different systems in it for life support and use rocket engines versus air power jet engines. But to me, it was just another piece of machinery that was meant to go a little further. I didn't see anything mystical particularly about it, or some people had a religious connotation from their missions. I did not feel that.
Mat Kaplan: But what about that view of earth?
Fred Haise: Well, the views were all incredible. I mean, even from earth orbit of course, highest I'd been in an airplane was approaching 90,000 feet on 104 zoom flights going around in orbit and looking at the large land masses and water and features from even 100 miles we were at for a couple of revolutions. But particularly looking at the earth, the shrinking as you went away to a small ball. And of course, the contrasting view as we briefly looped around the moon, including the good view of the backside. We were at about 130 miles a little over versus the 60 most people were in orbit at. So it looking so contrastingly so different from our beautiful earth. Those were all, I'll call it certainly unusual and impressive things to be looking at.
Mat Kaplan: Fred Haise, thank you very much. I just wonder, is there anything else that you would want to add for the audience to hear that we may not have gotten to?
Fred Haise: No, I don't think so. Just at the end of the book, I really talked to three challenges. Hope people will read and think about, they're all things that for future generations need to consider and hopefully do some proactive rather than reactive responses to.
Mat Kaplan: That book that he's talking about is, Never Panic Early: An Apollo 13 Astronaut's Journey from Smithsonian books. And you had assistance in writing this from Bill Moore, who has also been heard on this program. Great aerospace historian and writer. Do you want to say anything nice about Bill?
Fred Haise: Yeah, Bill. I actually met, I think it was 20, probably 22 years ago, because I have a picture of him and my granddaughter Dakota, who at the time was probably five years old and she's 20 going to 28. Quite a while ago. I was at an event, where I was inducted into the Oklahoma Aviation Hall of Fame. And I met Dale then and we were co-graduates of the University of Oklahoma. We've kept in touch over the years for various other events, because he's been involved in several museums.
Fred Haise: He's on board of directors of a couple right now and I've been involved 15 years on the Board of Infinity Science Center and worked day one to help it raise the money to get it built. It did not exist, we had to build it and then raise money for exhibits, where it's fully operational museum in Mississippi, close to where I grew up and close to Stennis Space Center.
Mat Kaplan: Infinity Science Center, one of the many, many topics we simply don't have time to discuss in this conversation, but they are in the book, Never Panic Early. Again, Fred Haise, thank you so much for the book for spending time with us, but most especially for your many, many decades of service.
Fred Haise: All right, I'm glad we survived that one panic early event.
Mat Kaplan: We did indeed. Houston, you can stand down.
Fred Haise: Okay.
Mat Kaplan: Time for What's Up, on Planetary Radio. Welcome back everybody, and welcome to you, Bruce Betts, chief scientist of The Planetary Society. I am glad you're here. I just want to say up front, because I'm not going to get to write to everybody, but thank you to all of you who sent me birthday wishes last week, because yes, indeed, it was my birthday and I'm very grateful. Thank you, I had a nice time.
Bruce Betts: Happy birthday, Mat. To celebrate, I was able to buy just a whole bunch of new cool video games.
Mat Kaplan: You're going to give those to me?
Bruce Betts: Let's say for your birthday, I bought a bunch of stuff from me.
Mat Kaplan: That's interesting, because we got this message from Ben Owens in Australia. It was one of my well wishers. He said he sent my gift of a thousand dollars to you, Bruce, so you could give it to me at my surprise party. Should we just go off?
Bruce Betts: Surprise.
Mat Kaplan: I think you should tell us what's up in the night's sky?
Bruce Betts: The pre-dawn planet party has gotten so cool. You really is worth checking out Jupiter joining Venus. The brightest planet in the sky, brightest natural object in the night sky besides the moon is Venus. And the second brightest is Jupiter. Jupiter is coming up and joining Venus over the next couple weeks and will be low in the Eastern sky in the pre-dawn. Jupiter and Venus, both extremely bright. Venus, much brighter, they will be closer than the width of a full moon on April 30th, but it doesn't stop there.
Bruce Betts: There's this whole lineup going from the horizon to the upper right of Jupiter, Venus reddish Mars and yellowish Saturn, both of which are much dimmer than the other two. So check that out. April 30th, partial solar eclipse. If you're in the right place, if you happen to be in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean or Southern South America, April 30th, partial solar eclipse. Onto this in space history, it was 1972 that Apollo 16 was launched taking humans successfully to and from the moon. Once again, in 1981, the landing of the first ever shuttle mission to space STS-1 landed this week in 1981.
Mat Kaplan: And I was there as I mentioned to Fred Haise, just a few minutes ago, I was standing just off the dry lake bed, covering that. And boy, what a wonderful celebration that was?
Bruce Betts: And I enjoyed that you just dropped the name, Fred Haise. All right, let us move on to randoms basement.
Mat Kaplan: Wow, operatic.
Bruce Betts: Features, I love naming of features in the solar system for some odd reason. Features on the binary asteroid system didymo and dimorphic, which you may be familiar with, or you certainly will be in a few months will be named after percussion musical instruments. We'll get our first close up look at the system shortly before the dart mission in impacts dimorphus this fall as the first test of asteroid deflection. And when those features are seen, they'll be named after percussion musical instruments. I can only guess, because it's one thing hitting another.
Mat Kaplan: That makes sense, now that you mentioned it.
Bruce Betts: All right, we go on to the trivia contest and we played Planetary Radio math games once again. And I ask you what is mission numbers of the following added together? The mission numbers added together, the first Apollo to orbit the moon, plus the only space shuttle to land at White Sands, New Mexico, plus the first Mars orbiter, how do we do Mat?
Mat Kaplan: Here's the answer from our poet Laureate Day Fairchild in Kansas. Apollo 8 was pretty great, it orbited the moon. Then Shuttle STS-3 came down at White Sands Dunes. The Mariner was number nine, it circled Mars around and adding them gives 20, because it's math, the whole way down.
Bruce Betts: That is correct, because it's our 20th year man.
Mat Kaplan: Oh, I see what you're getting at there. This is the 20th year of Planetary Radio. Yes, you're right. We did have several people who said that the first Mars orbiter was the Soviet Union's Mars 2. It was not, even though it launched first. Here's what part of the response we got from Kent Merley in Washington. Mariner 9 launched from Cape Canaveral 11 days and two days after the Soviets launched two heavier orbiters that included Mars Landers, less mass helped Mariner 9 enter Mars orbit sooner.
Mat Kaplan: But I looked it up, it was only a couple of weeks before Mars 2 from the Soviet Union arrived. Sorry folks, but most of you did get it right, knew that it was Mariner 9, that got there first. One of those I think was Isaac Mitchell, in New York, who is 11 and loves space. And Isaac, we're glad of that. I'm sorry to say though, isaacrandom.org did not make you the winner this time, but keep at it, Isaac.
Mat Kaplan: Here's our winner. It's Al Jansen, another first time winner. He's in Minnesota, he says he loves the show and he has won himself that 20 by 36 inch Mars science screen poster from Chop Shop, featuring Curiosity, Perseverance and that cute little whirl bird, Ingenuity on the red planet. And those of course, from chopshopstore.com, where The Planetary Society has all of its merchandise in our own little sub store there as well. Congratulations Al.
Bruce Betts: Congratulations.
Mat Kaplan: And we are ready to get a new quiz from you.
Bruce Betts: It's time once again to play, where in the solar system?
Mat Kaplan: Oh, oh boy.
Bruce Betts: And here's my birthday present to you Mat. Where in the solar system is there a mountain named Kaplan? Give me the object, the planet, moon, whatever it is, give me the object on which there is a mountain named Kaplan, in our solar system. Go to planetary.org/radiocontest to get your entry in by-
Mat Kaplan: Well, first of all, why did I not know this? Second, you need to get that to us by Wednesday, that'd be Wednesday, April 20th at 8:00 AM. Pacific time.
Bruce Betts: Why did you not know the answer or why did you not know I was going to ask the question?
Mat Kaplan: Well, both, but why did I not know that there's a mountain that somebody very kindly clearly named after yours truly?
Bruce Betts: That's not part of the question, just to be clear.
Mat Kaplan: Here's your prize. If you make it through this one, past a random.org. It is the book that we were talking to Fred Haise about his brand new book, Never Panic Early: An Apollo 13 Astronaut's Journey, that he wrote with the great Bill Moore. And it is from Smithsonian Books. It can be yours, enjoy. We did get one question Bruce, about prizes or a suggestion from John Ferguson in Illinois, who said rubber asteroids are great. And we will give away some more before too long. But when are you going to offer a LightSail kite?
Bruce Betts: I think never, but there was one LightSail kite that was built by staff of The Planetary Society and flown successfully. It hangs in an office at TPS Headquarters. So I don't think so. We also have a quarters scale model of LightSail in the Smithsonian futures exhibit right now that looks like a kite, but it's not. Sorry, but if you'd like to build a LightSail kite and send us pictures, we'll be happy.
Mat Kaplan: Brilliant, brilliant suggestion. We might even throw in a rubber asteroid if you actually build a LightSail kite. You can write to a us at the same place, [email protected]. We're done.
Bruce Betts: All right, everybody go out there, look up the night sky and think about what would you make a kite look like for fun. Thank you, and goodnight.
Mat Kaplan: I would make a kite look like, well, there's some mountains somewhere in the solar system named Kaplan, that's what I would think it look like.
Bruce Betts: And make it look like your face.
Mat Kaplan: Well, face it everybody. He's Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, who joins us every week here for What's Up.
Bruce Betts: Kind of cheeky aren't you?
Mat Kaplan: Planetary Radio is produced by The Planetary Society in Pasadena, California. It is made possible by its members who dream big, it's a dream you can share at planetary.org/join. Mark Hilverda and Rae Paoletta are associate producers. Josh Doyle composed our theme, which is arranged and performed by Pieter Schlosser. Ad astra.