On This Episode
Assistant Launch Director and Chief of the Test, Launch, and Recovery Operations Branch within the Exploration Ground Systems Program at NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida
Public Education Specialist for The Planetary Society
Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society
Planetary Radio Host and Producer for The Planetary Society
Jeremy Graeber, the assistant launch director at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, joins us to recount his experience on the night of Artemis I’s historic launch. We celebrate the success of the mission and share a short segment about The Planetary Society’s new Space Life Goals list. Bruce Betts pops in to share more about this week in space history and what to keep an eye out for in the night sky in this week’s What’s Up.
- Space Life Goal
- NASA’s Artemis I mission has successfully launched
- Planetary Radio: Countdown to Artemis, The Return to the Moon
- Messages from Earth
- The night sky
- The Downlink
- Subscribe to the monthly Planetary Radio newsletter
This Week’s Question:
Where in the Solar System is Doom Mons, named after Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings?
This Week’s Prize:
An Artemis I mission pin
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, January 18 at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.
Last week's question:
What planetary system was the setting for the majority of the original Doom video game?
The winner will be revealed next week.
Question from the December 28, 2022 space trivia contest:
What hardware did The Planetary Society fly to Mars as part of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover missions? No need for great detail.
The Planetary Society flew silica glass DVDs containing more than four million names, including a list of Planetary Society members, to Mars aboard the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: There and back again, an Artemis 1 lunar mission tale. This week on Planetary Radio. I'm Sarah Al-Ahmed of The Planetary Society, with more of the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. We've all heard it before, but some things are worth the wait and NASA's Artemis 1 mission to the Moon was no exception. This week, we celebrate the amazing success of the first launch of the Artemis program with Jeremy Graeber. He's the assistant launch director for NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. Getting humans back to the Moon for the first time in over five decades is an excellent goal, but we'll also share a new resource to help you accomplish your space life goals here on Earth. If you're a fan of the Artemis program, you're going to want to stick around for what's up with Bruce Betts and a chance to win a special Artemis prize in this week's space trivia contest. It's no secret that we love solar sail's here at The Planetary Society. We all shared in a big moment last November when our beloved crowd-funded LightSail to spacecraft reached its end of mission, but its legacy lives on in a new generation of solar sail's. Last week, we were thrilled by the launch of the Gama Alpha Solar Sail mission. Gama is a French aerospace company that drew on lessons learned from The Planetary Society's LightSail to spacecraft. This new mission aims to further test solar sailing technology. It consists of a six unit CubeSat about the size of a large shoebox. CubeSats are a class of mini satellite based on a cube unit that's 10 centimeters long on each side. Gama Alpha will attempt to deploy a solar sail about the size of a tennis court from within that confined space. That's really impressive. We also got word that researchers from the University of Western Ontario and Canada discovered something curious, when studying a fireball that streaked across the skies of Alberta in 2021. The rocky meteoroid's trajectory suggests that it came from the Oort Cloud, that's the immense cloud of icy bodies at the edge of our solar system. We're used to observing comets that travel into the inner solar system from the Oort Cloud, but this object suggests that it may contain rocky bodies and not just icy ones. You can learn more about these and other stories in the January 6th Edition of our weekly newsletter, The Downlink. Read it or subscribe to have it sent to your inbox for free every Friday at planetary.org/downlink. Now, if you do read this week's Downlink, you'll notice that our theme for the newsletter is all about space life goals. To help inspire and motivate you to live out your space dreams, we put together what we consider to be the ultimate list of space life goals. Here's Kate Howells, our public education specialist to tell us more. Hey Kate, how's it going?
Kate Howells: Hi Sarah. It's going great, just kind of getting out of the holiday lull.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah, and I know we've got a really fun thing to kind of give people something to look forward to in the coming year. Can you tell us a little bit about our new space life goals?
Kate Howells: Yes, absolutely. So yes, it's the time of year when people are making and maybe already breaking their New Year's resolution. But for people who are space enthusiasts, we have a really great tool to help you not only set resolutions, but also sort of guide your progress as a space enthusiast and potentially inspire things that you could do throughout your life. So, the space life goals was inspired by actually bird watching lists. So bird watchers have what's called a life list, where it's basically a list of all the birds that you could possibly see in your region or even beyond if you're into traveling. And over the course of your life, you tick off the birds that you've seen, you make little notes. So, we had the idea to do something similar with space with all the things that you might see or do to enrich your passion for space. And to put together this list, we crowdsourced it from our members and our email list and our social media subscribers and just everybody in our broad community. So people submitted ideas for things to do or see as a space enthusiast, that you should do within your lifetime. And we've put it all together, organized it into categories and it's now available on our website for free, so you can go check it out and see ideas that maybe are within the scope of what you want to do as a space enthusiast, maybe things that are bigger, more ambitious, maybe not for you, but overall, there's something for everybody here.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: That sounds like so much fun. I know I have so many personal space life goals, but are there any that you're hoping to accomplish in the future?
Kate Howells: Yes, many, of course. Because as a space enthusiast myself, I nerd out about this stuff and there's a lot of stuff that I want to do within my lifetime. I would love to see the aurora, for example. I live in Canada, but not far enough North to get to see the Aurora Borealis, so I'd love to travel farther North and see that. I would love to do sidewalk astronomy, which is where you bring a telescope out to a public place like downtown, wherever you live, something like that. And as people walk by, you invite them to look through the telescope at whether it's just the Moon, or it's the daytime and you have a solar telescope or if it's nighttime, you've got a big enough scope to see Jupiter or something. I've been a passerby, invited to look through a telescope and I know it's such a enriching experience to get to see something for yourself. So I would love to be the person setting up the telescope, inviting other people to check it out. I would love to tour the lab of a space scientist. That's one of the ones on our list that I think sounds so cool to actually see somebody who's working on analyzing lunar rocks or Mars meteorites, or who's just doing cool theoretical work on black holes. Any of that stuff sounds really cool to me. Like I said, there's something for everybody on this list and there's definitely a lot for me.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: That sounds like so much fun. I know the one I've always wanted to do is go check out a Meteor Crater or something like that.
Kate Howells: Yes, I've done that. I can tick that off my life list. I saw the Arizona Meteor Crater a few years ago and-
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Its so cool.
Kate Howells: So cool, it was mind boggling. Definitely recommend.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Well, thanks Kate. That sounds like a really great time. I'm going to link to this page on our Planetary Radio site, so everyone can go there. You can check it out at planetary.org/radio. I'll put it in the links under this episode. Thanks so much, Kate.
Kate Howells: Thank you, Sarah. And, I hope everybody enjoys and has some great space experiences this year.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: One of the things on our space life goals list is going to see a rocket launch. And if you haven't done it yet, I strongly encourage you to try to see one of these things, it's amazing. My first rocket launch wasn't that long ago, actually. I went to Vandenberg Space Force Base in California to watch the launch of the DART mission. That's the double asteroid redirection test that smashed right into the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos last September. I was really hoping that my second launch was going to be the Artemis 1 mission. NASA's Artemis program as the modern day equivalent of the Apollo program, that first took humans to the Moon in the 1960s and 70s. Not only does the Artemis program hope to return humans to the surface of the Moon for the first time in over 50 years, but the plan ultimately includes building the first permanent lunar settlement and a Moon orbiting space station called the Lunar Gateway. After many years of dreaming and hard work, the first uncured launch of the Artemis program, Artemis 1 blasted off on November 16th, 2022. My Planetary Society colleagues and I had ventured to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last August and we really hoped that we would be able to see that first launch, but of course, it was scrubbed. But, that's okay. Mat Kaplan, the show's former host, shared many of our adventures during that trip in the September 7th, 2022 episode of Planetary Radio. I'll link to that on this week's Planetary Radio Page at planetary.org/radio. Since we couldn't be there to watch that launch, I had to talk to someone who did, which is why I invited Jeremy Graeber to this week's show. He's the assistant launch director and chief of the Test, Launch and Recovery Operations Branch within the Exploration Ground Systems Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. He witnessed the inspiring night that Artemis 1 launched firsthand and joined me to celebrate the mission success. Thanks for joining me, Jeremy.
Jeremy Graeber: Hey, thanks for having me. Really appreciate it.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: I just wanted to say congratulations to you and everyone that worked on Artemis 1 launch. That was absolutely amazing.
Jeremy Graeber: Thanks, Sarah. Yeah, I'm so proud of our team and so happy with everything that's gone on launch countdown, the mission splashed down just yesterday. Fantastic for everybody involved and I'm really proud of our teams.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah, we're actually recording this a little early and the splash down of Orion was just yesterday, so it was really timely and really exciting to watch that. Were you watching it in San Diego or were you actually watching a broadcast of it?
Jeremy Graeber: No, I was watching a broadcast. The Landing and Recovery team has been out in San Diego doing just-in-time training with the crew of the U.S. Navy, Portland LPD ship. And so, that team's been out there for weeks and it really just didn't work with being part of the launch team, and then also being part of the recovery team. But that team has been training for years to get to this point, along with the U.S. Navy and they just did a fantastic job. In coordination with the flight control team in Houston and the Mission Control center did a fantastic job, great splash down, great recovery and I'm really proud of that team.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: It just all comes full circle, it's wonderful seeing the launch be so successful and finally this moment, getting that capsule back. It's all really exciting.
Jeremy Graeber: Absolutely.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: And I'm wondering, you've been working at Kennedy Space Center for about two and a half decades now and you've seen so much launch history, everything from the end of the Space Shuttle era to now, the SLS rocket launching and the beginning of the Artemis generation. And after all of that, what did it feel like to finally see Artemis 1 launch?
Jeremy Graeber: Well, y you're absolutely correct. I've gotten to see a whole lot of things here at the Kennedy Space Center be a part of a lot of different things. My perception of all of those things throughout time, as a young engineer moving through and moving into new and different opportunities, getting to move in to be a NASA test director and run launch countdown, and then getting to be a part of STS-132, being the launch NASA test director for that mission was a big milestone. And then moving into Ares I-X and getting to be a part of that launch team for that single mission, that was an amazing experience. Then moving into the next generation as we move forward, I got to be the NASA recovery director for Exploration Flight Test-1 and recover Orion for the first Orion flight and splash down. But what I'll tell you is from about 2012 till just this November, we've been working in building this launch team and this launch of Artemis 1, and working for and with Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, our launch director. And putting together this team that has basically built this whole launch from scratch, has been a unique and amazing experience, seeing how this team has created the software and all the simulation capability for us to do over 30 launch countdown sims with our whole team, dozens of additional sims with smaller teams to prepare ourselves to be ready for the launch of Artemis 1, and being a part of all of that from the beginning has been just the most rewarding events. And to see all of that come together and finally come off with the launch on November 16th was just truly an amazing opportunity, something that our whole team is so proud of. And for me, it's really seeing that team grow, mature and really be spot on, ready to go and just really have a spectacular launch of Artemis 1. It's really, really rewarding.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: That's fantastic and really impressive, honestly. Did you and the team have a really fun party afterwards? I really hope you did.
Jeremy Graeber: So, we didn't have a really fun party right away. It's a really long launch countdown.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah and a late night.
Jeremy Graeber: And a late night, so the timing of it made for. But the celebrations that we had immediately after launch, Charlie is very in tune with her team and very understanding of what's important to this team. And every one of us in every position, it was the first time doing that and launching. And, that's a really big deal. Coming into the Shuttle program, I came in the middle of a 30-year program and many of the people that were part of that program had been doing it and for 15 years. And, I got to do the last 15 years. So, there was a lot of history and a lot of things built. None of us had ever launched before. And so that, recognizing that and it's a tradition amongst a launch team that when somebody fills a role for the first time, they get their tie cut. Every one of us did that for the first time, filled that role for the first time. Charlie had some very specific scissors made just for that occasion and I believe she cut every single launch team member's tie or whatever they had, their scarf or whatever it was that represented what was important to them on launch day. That was such a great moment to watch, moment for myself to have my tie cut for my position as the assistant launch director, but then to see the whole team get recognized and feel that honor to be a part of that team, was such a great thing to watch. And really the team wanted to stay in the control room for a very long time after launch, because they just wanted to soak in what history they had just made and been a part of. So that was our party, that was what was really important to us and it was a great celebration for us as a team.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: That's really great that you bring up the ties, because I've been wondering for the longest time, did everyone actually get their ties cut? And what are you going to do with yours, you going to frame it?
Jeremy Graeber: Absolutely. You can see behind me, it's not framed, but for STS-132, my tie for that launch and Mike Leinbach cutting my tie for that launch is there. And as I get some imagery and some other things put together, the Artemis 1 will go right up on the shelf as well or somewhere up on the wall.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Did you pick a special Artemis tie?
Jeremy Graeber: I didn't. For me, its, you never know when you're actually going to launch. And I want to, because we did scrub a couple of times. For me, it's, let's just get in there and do the work and whatever you're wearing is what's going to be commemorated on that day. So now, I just wore what felt right that day and that's the one that's going to go up on the wall. And I do think it's really something that's great, that will connect this team forever, is that tie cutting. And I'll see that in years to come with other members of this team, and I'll go in their offices and see their tie cut, and I'll know that connection is there, and just be able to talk about that and reminisce about that amazing launch night.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Right, a moment you'll remember forever.
Jeremy Graeber: Absolutely.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: And you did bring this up a little, which is that Artemis did scrub a few times. It went through a lot of struggle. My coworkers and I were actually there in August to try to see the first attempted launch. It was so awesome to be there, even though it got scrubbed, just to kind of be there with the crowd. But in that interim, between that first scrub launch and when it actually did get off the ground, what was the atmosphere in Kennedy Space Center? Was it tense or was it just everyone dedicated to that moment?
Jeremy Graeber: Well, that's the thing that is really impressive about this team. There wasn't disappointment, nobody's hanging their heads. Everybody just looked at it, we've got this next problem to go solve. Today wasn't our day, we need to circle back and we need to look at what we need to do differently, we need to learn our lessons. That's one thing that Charlie always says to this team and it's something that I carry with me to my teams as well, is we want to learn a lesson once. We don't want to learn it multiple times. So through each one of those launch attempts, we learn something about how this rocket works. And through each wet dress rehearsal, we learned how this rocket works. You can do all of the testing, and all of the analysis and look at all the models, but the reality of how all of the systems interact is really where you understand how the rocket really works and how it's going to work on launch day. And so, through each one of those opportunities, we learned something and throw in a couple of hurricanes for us to work through, added some exciting challenges for us. But really, once we got through our tanking test, we really understood cryogenically how to load the vehicle, how we needed to do that specifically. We really were ready after that taking test to get to that next launch attempt. And if it had not been for the hurricane, Hurricane Ian that came through, we really would've had that next launch attempt there pretty quickly. But again, the team didn't look at it as a disappointment. They said, "What's our next steps?" "We've got to protect this vehicle." So we rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building and did all the right things there. Once we were ready, we rolled back out, had a surprise hurricane for us and Hurricane Nicole. And what's really impressive about this team is, we rolled out, got all of our preparations completed. We're able to ride out a hurricane that came through on a Thursday. We got into our pre-test briefing for launch on Saturday. We got into our launch countdown on Sunday and we launched early that morning on the 16th. So just an impressive set of days and amount of work that this team did in those days, leading up to launch. But again, it's how this team looks at things, nothing is too hard. Everything is just, what's the work? What's the issue? What's the challenge that's in front of us? Let's put all of our heads together and work through it. And, all of those amazing results were shown to the world on the 16th. It was fantastic to see, and be a witness and be a part of.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah, it was really impressive to see it all come together after all of that, especially after all of the hurricanes. And then there was that tense moment during the night, when there was another fuel leak detected and they had to send the red crew, that specialized team of technicians out there to make sure that, that leak was fixed. And, were you just holding your breath the whole time that crew was under the rocket?
Jeremy Graeber: I wouldn't say I was holding my breath, but the key thing about a red crew, the idea of a red crew has always been a part of, since I've worked at the Space Center. A red crew is a really specialized capability and you really hope you never need to use it, but you put all the work in ahead of time to ensure that they know how to handle their work if they're called upon, and we know how to handle protecting them and watching them every step of the way through the entire time that they're out at the pad. For me, I didn't hold my breath, because I knew the preparation had been done and we knew how to handle this situation. One of the tasks that I had, as a part of the Artemis 1 launch, was to put all of our emergency capabilities in place. So we've got a fire rescue team that's ready to go in if there's an emergency, while the red crew's in. So we worked with those teams to plan out how we would accomplish that type of rescue, in case of that very unlikely situation. We have emergency medical teams onsite, prepped and ready to go right outside the Launch Control Center, and we've got emergency medical evacuation via helicopters ready to go, in case there had been an emergency. So, you do all that preparation beforehand and have all those resources ready to go. In addition, all the preparation for the red crew members, all the training, all of the expectations that they go through to be ready and they're staged and ready, they were staged and ready through every wet dress, every launch attempt. And really having all of that preparation, having those individuals ready to go do that work. And then also through our launch countdown simulations, we trained on problems that drove us to red crews, so that our teams in the control room knew how to go through that process. All of that work was put in place, and then it became necessary on launch day. You hope it doesn't, but it did. It was the exact type of situation, exact type of location that we could go to, send personnel in. And the thing about a red crew that's so important is, we do not send folks inside the launch danger area lightly. That is a very, very big deal. Charlie, absolutely, as our launch director, is responsible for every individual that goes inside that launch danger area. She takes that very seriously and so do I. And so, we watched every moment that they were inside that launch danger area, we were conscious of any situation that could have come up during that timeframe. And we were very happy with the result, very happy to see them get out of the launch danger area. And then, we were able to successfully get through the rest of launch countdown and be ready to go pick up with terminal count. That was kind of by the playbook, exactly how a red crew should go. And those guys did a fantastic job, and really proud of them, and really proud of the team and all the preparation that went into getting us to a successful launch on that day.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah, I remember watching a little bit of the broadcast, where the red crew was being interviewed. And it was fun for me, because there was never a moment that I doubted that they were going to get out of it safely. I feel like we've reached this point in space travel, where I can truly trust that everyone involved is going to be safe. And so, it's way less tense. It was more of a just, look at those heroes out there, just hard hats off to the red crew because they were the Unsung Heroes of the night or I guess, partially Sung Heroes of the night.
Jeremy Graeber: Yeah, they've definitely gotten a chance to be recognized and that is so fantastic. Its, I'm so proud that not only that they did a great job, but they're being recognized for it, which is awesome.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Hold that thought, we'll be right back with the rest of our interview with Jeremy Graeber after a short message from the Planetary Society's new Digital Community Manager, Ambre Trujillo.
Ambre Trujillo: There is so much going on in space science and exploration and we're here to share it with you. Hi, I'm Amber, digital community manager for The Planetary Society. Catch the latest space exploration news, pretty Planetary pictures and Planetary Society publications on our social media channels. You can find The Planetary Society on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. I hope you'll like and subscribe, so you never miss the next exciting update from the world of Planetary science.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Well, this rocket turned out fantastic, but I know that there are going to be some changes between the Artemis 1 rocket, which is an SLS 1 rocket, and then the next generation is going to be a Block 1, BSLS rocket. There's going to be a few changes between now and then. Can you briefly describe kind of the major differences between these two rocket types?
Jeremy Graeber: SLS Block 1 is what we're going to fly. We have flown for Artemis 1 and we will fly for Artemis 2 and Artemis 3. The Block 1 SLS, the upper stage that we have is the Interim Cryo Propulsion Stage and it has one RL10 engine and it allows us to meet the mission requirements for the first three Artemis missions. When we get to Artemis 4, that is when we get the new upper stage and what that new upper stage allows for, its bigger tanks, it's about 40 feet taller than the current rocket that we've got for SLS Block 1. It's got four RL10 engines. It gives us a much bigger payload capacity to the Moon. It allows us to not only bring Orion and the astronauts, but a massive amount of cargo to the Moon as well. And, there are a couple of different iterations. There's a cargo only version that gives us an amazing amount of capability moving forward, which is really what Artemis is all about, is taking incremental steps towards permanent presence on the Moon, so that we eventually can take our astronauts to Mars. And it's really exciting to be a part of this and really exciting, really to lay the groundwork for this multi-decade program that we're working towards, that really just extends our reach into the Moon permanently and eventually to Mars. Very excited to see that. And as you mentioned, not just those changes, there will be changes from Artemis 1 to Artemis 2, as it relates to the flight crew because we will fly astronauts on Artemis 2. That will add some capabilities to Orion, very specific capabilities for the flight crew, all of their environmental control capabilities to keep the crew safe and comfortable through their flight. Some of those systems will be added in on the ground. We've got several capabilities that we're updating, as it relates to our Emergency Egress System that we're installing as a part of updates to the mobile launcher and the PAD capabilities. That's a really important capability that we need flying crew. Some of the capabilities on our crew access arm will be upgraded and improved, because we now will have a crew flying. So you'll definitely see some adjustments and some differences, as we move forward to Artemis 2. And we've already started moving forward with those and we're only a few weeks into Artemis 2 planning. It all started well before Artemis 1 and continues as we're flying Artemis 1.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah, we have about two years until Artemis 2 launches, right?
Jeremy Graeber: Yeah, absolutely. And a lot of amazing things ahead of us to get to that Artemis 2 launch. Very much looking forward to those. We've got different capabilities. Artemis 1, the intent was not to have any personnel inside the launch danger area through once we started Cryo loading. Obviously, we had the red crew, so we had that difference. But for Artemis 2, we absolutely will have personnel inside the launch danger area, and that'll be the flight crew and our closeout crew, that will be in there to get the flight crew loaded on board Orion. So that alone will change the launch day operations, and that's additional work that will have to be worked into our normal launch countdown timeline, so we've got a plan for that. We're going to work through that, we're going to perfect that and it'll look a lot different as we move into Artemis 2. And, I'm excited for that. Having a flight crew makes a big difference in a mission. The visibility is much different, the level of scrutiny and safety, and safety mindedness on everything that we do from this point on is ratcheted up that much higher, because our primary responsibility in everything we do here at Kennedy Space Center is safety of our crew, safety of our ground crews, and then the safety of our flight hardware and our ground systems. But the crew and the ground crew are our primary responsibility that they're safe, and that will be carried through in everything we do from here on out.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Do we have any idea when we're going to know who some of these crew members are going to be? I mean A, because we want to cheer them on while they're still on Earth, but also because I want to start collecting action figures.
Jeremy Graeber: So the word I'm hearing is in 2023, we'll start to hear some of that news. I'm looking forward to it as well, because building that relationship with that flight crew, and the training that we need to do, and just making sure they understand how our launch team works, and we understand how they work as a part of their flight crew team and how they work together. Really important aspect of how we manage that because again, the teams that I'm a part of are the launch side and the recovery side. And it's, both of those are very big pieces of what the flight crew has to go through during a mission. And so, building those relationships will be really important for us.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: And also, as a woman who loves space, I'm really excited that we're going to have a more diverse cast of people getting to adventure to the Moon. And part of that, is that we need to study how space and these long-term space flight missions affect people's bodies over time. So, I know two of the mannequins that were on board this Artemis flight were actually modeled after female bodies to see how that actually impacts them over time. And I'm wondering, do we have any evidence that there might be differences in the way that women's bodies deal with long-term space flight?
Jeremy Graeber: Yes, we absolutely do. I mean, that's the one thing that I think is really kind of my view. This is my own personal Jeremy Graeber view of NASA and what we've done through our history. And when I look at Apollo, Apollo was let's demonstrate this amazing capability that we can put together and fly humans to the Moon and land them on the Moon, bring them back safely. Those were the first steps that kicked everything off. And then everything after that has been, let's build on that capability, build on those successes. And what the Space Shuttle program really has done is, demonstrate how we can live in space for a long-term. How we can build an amazing international space station that is flying humans every day, all day for decades, and learn everything we can learn about what it's like to live in space, have astronauts be on board for more than a year, really demonstrate what living in space does to the human body, and then take that next step. Now, we're going to take all of those lessons that we've learned through all of these successful missions and now take it that next step further. And so, we have already learned so much, but the next step is how do we live even further away from Earth, not low Earth orbit? Now, we're going to live at the Moon, where things are considerably different. There is radiation, there is all these things that the lower Earth orbit has protections against. And, that really is the focus of the capabilities that the mannequins that are on board Artemis 1 and Orion, are really bringing back that data. We collected a certain amount of data during Apollo and now we've got so much more advanced technology, sensors, all those things that we can now bring that data back and be able to adjust designs, adjust capabilities on board, so that we do make those adjustments based on physiology, male... All of those things and protect our astronauts as best as possible, moving into Artemis 2 and beyond. So yeah, I really love that, again, it's learning lessons. Don't learn them more than once, learn it once, and then go improve upon it and then carry that into the future. And that's our goal in NASA all the time, is learn those lessons and then move forward.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: And it's wild that we're at the point, where these lessons have us right on the cusp of literally sending people back to the Moon, but also potentially having a lunar gateway in orbit, or also having a base on the Moon. And I'm wondering, I know this is kind of not your thing, but if you could select a target for people to land on the Moon and go explore, what features on the Moon do you think you would want to go see more of?
Jeremy Graeber: Well, some of my background, where I started in this Space Shuttle program was the fuel cells onboard the orbiters that powered the orbiters while they were in space. So fueled by gaseous hydrogen and gaseous oxygen, they're great. They give off heat, electricity and water. The best thing is you can get all of that from water. And so in my mind, landing in a location at one of the poles that has the potential for water just opens so many possibilities and opportunities because if you have water, you can make those key elements that you need to be able to generate power. And then once you can generate power on a consistent basis, you can sustain human life in that location. And so, that's really exciting to me. And so, if somebody came and asked me, that would be one of those locations would be the primary spots from my perspective.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: I love to hear that, because I too think those permanently shadowed craters at the poles of the Moon, where we can actually find water would be a perfect place to go. Well, while the Orion capsule was going around the Moon, I was just so excited to see all those beautiful images. I know no one was up there, except the mannequins to actually see that view out the window, but particularly the images of the Apollo landing sites really kind of struck a chord with me. And I'm wondering if there are any images that you think people should definitely go and look up, which were the images that really stuck with you?
Jeremy Graeber: Well, so I've got to plug every single picture image, video of the Artemis 1 launch where, by far for me, the most amazing views. I'm an assistant launch director, I'm kind of biased. Second on my list are all of the entry interface for entering the Earth's atmosphere. All of those images coming from Orion, and then full shoots open and splash down, those are amazing images. Just seeing those yesterday just warned my heart being a former recovery director, getting to see the EFT-1 Orion splash down from the ship with my own eyes, was amazing. And I know the team got to do the same thing, so I know what emotions they were going through. But for the specific question that you asked me, there's an image on day 20 of the mission, and you can see a bit of the service module, you can see a big aspect of the Moon and you can see Earth rising behind the Moon. I've seen it described by many different folks, whether it's on Twitter or wherever. They can't believe this is a real picture. This looks like something out of a science fiction movie. And that image to me, really does represent... That image is from a massive distance away from Earth. The Moon in the foreground and all of us on Earth in the background, in this tiny little blue planet that is rising over the Moon, just encapsulates everything about what Artemis is all about. And so, that's probably one of my favorite images that I've seen so far.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah. And I'll make sure to put that up on the website with this episode. So if anybody wants to check it out, they can because I think it's almost the exact same image that you're mentioning I had. Anytime you see one of those pictures that evokes that Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot feeling, it's always really humbling and makes me feel so hopeful in my heart.
Jeremy Graeber: Absolutely.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Well, before I let you go, I do have one last completely silly question for you, which is, see, I'm a huge Snoopy fan. I don't know about you, but I know that on board this mission, they had a Zero G indicator plushy astronaut Snoopy. And I know that you appreciated it too, because I saw a picture that you posted on your Twitter of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Float of Snoopy. And I'm really excited about this, because my grandmother had her pilot's license and had iconography of Snoopy flying all over her home, so I was very endeared to that. And I know too, that you once won an award, the Silver Snoopy, which I believe is awarded for emergency egress training and equipment development. Did you actually get a physical Snoopy statue?
Jeremy Graeber: So, not a statue. So the Silver Snoopy Award has been around a really long time and it comes from service and support to NASA astronauts. And it's really a NASA astronauts award, basically that says you have contributed to the safety and wellbeing and success of a NASA astronaut crew, or mission or whatever. And so, it's not a statue, it's a little pin. And I was awarded the Silver Snoopy and Butch Wilmore was the astronaut. He's a good friend of mine that presented it to me. And it's a really, really special honor to get, and you mentioned what I received it for, and that's a really important aspect of my job during the Shuttle program and continues today as the assistant launch director. The safety of the flight crew and the ground crews is one of my primary responsibilities. And so, as we move forward into Artemis 2, developing and perfecting the training that we do for Emergency Egress is right back up there in the top items that we've got ahead of us. And so, Silver Snoopy's are really... It is a really big honor. I'm so honored to have been a recipient and I've nominated a lot of really great people to get them as well, because it just shows the true nature of somebody that works so hard to protect our NASA astronauts and it's great to recognize them. Yeah, I love that balloon at the Thanksgiving Day Parade. That was awesome. So the Zero G indicator Snoopy that is flying on Artemis 1, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, as our launch director, got to welcome Snoopy on board Orion when we closed out Orion for flight, leaving the vehicle assembly building the first time. And so, he will be recognized and displayed, I'm sure, and very prominent features moving forward, coming down. Orion will be back in port today, and I'm sure that Snoopy will be one of the first members of that team and that payload consist to be offloaded and with honors, I'm sure.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: That makes me so happy, because I would love to go see that Snoopy. And thank you for everything you've done, not only to protect our living astronauts, but also our little Snoopy astronaut.
Jeremy Graeber: Absolutely.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Thanks, Jeremy. This has been a wonderful conversation. I'm so looking forward to the next Artemis missions and hopefully, we can talk again in the future about this.
Jeremy Graeber: That would be fantastic. Thank you so much, Sarah, and I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you and your listeners.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: I had such a fun time with that conversation. Jeremy, if you're listening, don't be surprised when I show up at the Kennedy Space Center with a Snoopy plushy and a dream of cheering off the top of one of those launch towers. My partner in crime during my first and only visit to KSE so far was Bruce Betts. We'll go to him for this week's, What's Up? once more, I am joined by the Chief Scientist of the Planetary Society, the amazing, the marvelous, the stupendous, Dr. Bruce Betts.
Bruce Betts: Oh, I love these introductions. Hi Sarah, how are you doing, you wonderful, amazing, tremendously awesome host person?
Sarah Al-Ahmed: See, that's why I do it, so you say nice things to me. No, I know last week I said I was going to be extra mean, but I figured I'd throw you a curve ball.
Bruce Betts: I know, it confused me. Hey, you want to know what's up in the night sky? You probably already know, but how about I tell other people?
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah, what's up?
Bruce Betts: We've still got a super bright Venus coming up, getting easier to see low in the west. It's going to hang with us and get higher over the coming weeks and months. Brightest starlike object in the night sky. And then if you look higher above it, there's yellow Saturn and they're coming together. They're coming together and will be really close to each other, but very low on the Western horizon after sunset on January 22nd. And then Saturn will keep dropping lower, Venus will get higher. Meanwhile, farther up in the sky, we've got Jupiter looking bright and over farther in the sky, we got reddish Mars, which is still quite bright. It looks quite lovely compared to Aldebaran, the reddish star of Taurus. They are hanging out near each other. And there, you can watch Mars dim as we get farther away from and over the coming weeks. Yeah, that'll do. Okay. How about onto this week in space history? It was a busy week and here's a small sampling just from the 2000s, the aughts, the... Whatever that decade's supposed to be called. 2005, the Huygens Probe, European Space Agency's Huygens Probe that flew with Cassini to Saturn, went through the atmosphere of Saturn, landed on the surface. Really, really amazing. A year later, Stardust returned cometary material to the Earth, via sample return. And two years after that, MESSENGER had its first fly by Mercury. Very memorable to me, because it always bugged me that we hadn't seen half of Mercury up close and fly by number one pretty much filled in the rest of the map. And then of course, great mission after that.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: I remember when Huygens landed. Eventually, it took a few years, but they made just a really beautiful video of the imagery that it took on its way down to the surface. And if you look really carefully in the background, you can see the shadow of its parachute just kind of moving overhead, which I encourage people to look up on YouTube. It's fantastic.
Bruce Betts: Hey, did you realize that The Planetary Society partnered with the acoustic instrument on the Huygens and help with our colleagues to process that data? And I do a mean impersonation I've done over time of two and a half hours of dissent through the very thick atmosphere in 10 seconds or less. All right, here we go. There it is. How was it landing? You could hear it land. Okay, moving on to Random Space Facts.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: I like that one. Did you notice that we didn't auto tune you last week?
Bruce Betts: Yes, I appreciated it. I may need auto tuning, but All right, here's your facts. You may have discussed the SLS rocket in the show earlier, I'm just guessing.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: No. Didn't even come up.
Bruce Betts: Oh, okay. If you set the SLS rocket on its side, it would stretch about the length of a football field.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yikes. That really puts it in context. I mean, being at Kennedy Space Center, it was like tiny, tiny in the distance, but...
Bruce Betts: It's big.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: It's big.
Bruce Betts: I mean, I wouldn't suggest putting it on its side, but if you did, that's what it would look like. Oh, okay. We move on to the trivia contest. And I asked you what hardware, what hardware did The Planetary Society fly to Mars as part of the Spirit and Opportunity missions? How did we do, Sarah?
Sarah Al-Ahmed: We did pretty well. We got a lot of really great answers. I know you said that we don't need great detail on this one. People did, in fact, send us great detail, but the dice have spoken. I used a die this time to figure out who won, instead of a random number generator, just because it's extra fun and because I'm a nerd with a bag of dice bigger than anyone should have. But our winner this week is Gene Lewin from Washington State, USA, who sent us this beautiful little poem. He wrote, "If you have the opportunity to visit Planet Meridian, you'll find a disk of silica, a secret coded DVD and if the spirit moves you, stroll over to Goose of Crater." "You can read the secret message, but you'll need to be a good translator." "Each disc is a time capsule, four million names they both possess, mounted on the lander's pedals and provided by TPS."
Bruce Betts: Ooh.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: "Of course, that is The Planetary Society." Excellent finish there, nice.
Bruce Betts: It's impressive. Well, good. Congratulations, Gene.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah, it's a tradition with us sending people's names, people who submit their names to us, but also just the names of all of our members onto spacecraft around the solar system. So becoming a member of The Planetary Society is a good way to get your name plastered all over planets and different bodies across our solar system. How many planets do you think or how many worlds do you think that your name has gone to?
Bruce Betts: Well, I could check our pages about messages from Earth a lot, flying through space as well and it's burned up a few times. We just had names burn up with LightSail too. We've been a lot of places. Planetary Society started doing names collection going back Cassini, and now it's been adopted by NASA. They do it a lot now. And so, Cassini actually had signatures that were scanned by our volunteers that were included with Cassini, and then Mars Pathfinder included a small micro dot that included names. And then, we've done all sorts of missions since then.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: I love that. It's a great way to make yourself feel like you're a part of that mission going somewhere, so I submit my name for every mission I can. And during this week, we got a lot of really good messages from people. I can't read all of them, obviously, but I really do want to thank people personally for all of the really great messages they sent to me about my first episode. It's really daunting to step into Mat Kaplan's shoes, now that he's retired from the show. So every message I get that tells me that I did a good job makes me feel so much better and really made my weak.
Bruce Betts: Hey, Sarah.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah.
Bruce Betts: You did a good job.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Really? Thank you.
Bruce Betts: Yes, really. Sorry. [inaudible 00:45:32] this.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: I did want to read a little bit of a message that was sent to us for Matt, because I think this is really true. It came from Nate Podgagney from Maine USA, hopefully I pronounce that correctly. Nate wrote us, "What I will miss about Matt specifically is his quiet, compassionate way of lifting up the voices of so many incredible people working in space exploration." "That's been such a reassuring presence over the last 15 odd years." That's how long Nate has been listening to the show. "And what's kept me fascinated with The Planetary Society's work, you can hear even the shyest guests light up with their passion for exploration and humanity over the course of the interviews in such an extraordinary way." "I don't think I've ever finished an episode without feeling newly thrilled that we live in such a marvelous universe, full of such marvelous people." I agree.
Bruce Betts: Oh, Matt's cool.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Matt's cool. But if you want to send a message to Matt, or me or Bruce, we'll also give your messages to Bruce.
Bruce Betts: Really?
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah. You can always email us at [email protected]. So, what's our new trivia question for this week?
Bruce Betts: Well, in a rare combination of theme words, last week I asked you about the original Doom video game. We'll get to that next week with the answer. Now, I'm going to take a different Doom trek. We're going to play, Where in the Solar System? Where in the solar system is Doom Mons, named after Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings. Go to planetary.org/radio.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: I love this one. I remember pointing out to people in previous jobs how cool it was that there was a particular place in the solar system with many names from The Lord of the Rings. Excellent.
Bruce Betts: Yeah, I wouldn't go to Mount Doom, though. You know what I mean?
Sarah Al-Ahmed: I mean, if you have good reason, if you're carrying some kind of maybe evil ring or something with you.
Bruce Betts: Like that had happened. Okay.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Well, all right. If you have the answer to this question, you can submit your answer until Wednesday, January 18th at 8:00 AM Pacific Time. And you're probably going to want to actually send in your answers for this, because we have some special prizes this time. When Bruce and I went to Kennedy Space Center to watch the first scrub launch of Artemis 1, we went to the gift center and I got a whole bunch of Artemis pins. So, we'll be giving away up to two of these Artemis pins.
Bruce Betts: Cool.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah, I do remember that while I was picking up the pins, you were out shopping for a gag gift for Mat.
Bruce Betts: Yeah.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: As is tradition.
Bruce Betts: It is. He's still way ahead of me in the gag gift thing. Every time he'd go someplace like JPL, he'd buy some little weird thing. I have Mars mud still sitting on my desk. It's not actual Mars mud.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: If only. Sample return is just as easy as going to the JPL store. How do you feel about astronaut ice cream? If I bring you astronaut ice cream from every trip I go on, would you eat it?
Bruce Betts: I would. Would I be excited about it? Probably not, but I would eat it, because you brought it to me and that would be a nice thought. Except now, I'm sensing it's not actually a nice thought.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Well, I could just see the look of disappointment in your eyes when I give you just once more astronaut ice cream.
Bruce Betts: Ooh, I sense a theme. All right, we'll make sure that Sarah doesn't travel.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: I've doomed myself, Mount Doomed myself. But anyway. All right, Bruce, it is time for you to take us out.
Bruce Betts: All right, everybody go out there, look at the night sky and think about gnomes. Thank you and goodnight.
Sarah Al-Ahmed: Gnomes. You heard it here, folks. That was Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society. We've reached the end of this week's episode of Planetary Radio, but we'll be back next week to share the inspiring story of Jason Achilles. He's a musician and a space fan who found his way onto the team responsible for putting one of the first successful microphones on Mars. Planetary Radio is produced by The Planetary Society in Pasadena, California and is made possible by our dedicated members. You can join us and help many more amazing space Missions launch to success at planetary.org/join. Mark Hilverda and Rae Paoletta are our associate producers. Andrew Lucas is our audio editor. Josh Doyle composed our theme, which was arranged and performed by Pieter Schlosser. And until next week, ad astra.