Planetary Radio • Sep 22, 2021

The Wonderful: A new documentary about the International Space Station

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On This Episode

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Cady Coleman

Retired Astronaut

Clare lewins

Clare Lewins

Director of "The Wonderful: Stories from the Space Station"

Jatan uncertainquark moon transparent

Jatan Mehta

Contributing Editor for The Planetary Society

Kaplan mat headshot 0114a print

Mat Kaplan

Planetary Radio Host and Producer for The Planetary Society

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Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society

Clare Lewins has created a film that takes us inside the lives of people who have lived and worked on the International Space Station. Cady Coleman is one of the featured astronauts in this beautiful, intimate and very affecting documentary. Planetary Society contributor Jatan Mehta tells us about South Korea’s plans for a lunar orbiter with an amazing camera. Bruce Betts returns with yet another space trivia contest and a quick tour of the night sky.

Cady Coleman
Cady Coleman NASA astronaut Cady Coleman floats in the International Space Station's cupola in 2011.Image: NASA
The Wonderful
The Wonderful Movie poster for the documentary "The Wonderful: Stories from the Space Station."Image: Universal Pictures

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Trivia Contest

This Week’s Question:

What currently functioning Mars orbiter has the longest orbital period?

This Week’s Prize:

A safe and sane Planetary Society Kick Asteroid r-r-r-rubber asteroid.

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, September 29 at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

By primary mirror diameter, what was the largest telescope in the 19th century?

Winner:

The winner will be revealed next week.

Question from the Sept. 8, 2021 space trivia contest:

What fuel did the Dawn spacecraft use for its engines and, in kilograms, how much of that fuel did it begin its historic mission with?

Answer:

The Dawn spacecraft used xenon as the propellant for its ion engines. It started the mission with 425 kilograms.

Transcript

Mat Kaplan:

The wonderful stories from the international space station. This week on Planetary Radio. Welcome. I'm Mat Kaplan of The Planetary Society, with more of the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. There have been several documentaries about life aboard the ISS, but none I know of that have provided the deeply personal experiences and reflections you'll find in The Wonderful.

Mat Kaplan:

The films director, Clare Lewins and one of its stars, Astronaut Cady Coleman, will join us for a wonderful conversation. We'll also who hear from science communicator Jatan Mehta for the first time. Jatan is a contributing editor at The Planetary Society. He is prepared a guide to south Korea's first deep space mission. A lunar orbiter called KPLO that launches in less than a year. We'll talk with Jatan at his home in Mumbai India. There's another fun visit ahead with the society's chief scientist. I hope you'll stay for what's up with Bruce Betts.

Mat Kaplan:

Once again, the biggest space story came too late for the September 17 edition of our free weekly newsletter, The Downlink, the inspiration for crew rode their dragon capsule to a safe splash down in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, September 18th. You'll hear Cady Coleman welcome these new space travelers to a club that is finally becoming a little less exclusive.

Mat Kaplan:

As of last week, we were up to 4,516 confirmed exoplanets. NASA's test mission continues to rack up discoveries. The team behind the dedicated planet finder has created a sweeping montage of the Southern sky that includes 208 of its individual images. You'll find it at planetary.org/downlake.

Mat Kaplan:

You can also read about the astronaut and cosmonaut whose stays aboard the ISS have just been extended. They've given their rides home to the Russian movie director and actor who will soon be shooting aboard the station. And NASA has awarded new lunar lander development contracts to five companies. They include some of the competitors for the big human landing system contract that went to SpaceX.

Mat Kaplan:

Here's my recent conversation with Jatan Metha. Jatan welcome to Planetary Radio for the first of all I hope will be many conversations about contributions you are making to The Planetary Society's website and other content. Again, welcome.

Jatan Mehta:

Thank you so much for having me on Mat. I'm very happy.

Mat Kaplan:

Tell us about KPLO.

Jatan Mehta:

Yes. KPLO is South Korea's first moon mission. They are beginning their planetary exploration as a country, just like India forayed into plant exploration with Chandrayaan-1. And it's a lunar orbiter, which will give us great new views of our moon using its many incredible instruments. One of which is NASA's ShadowCam instrument, which is an ultra sensitive camera.

Jatan Mehta:

In addition to the mission itself, KPLO also represents many other things such as kickstarting, a great collaboration with NASA as part of the larger astomatous program. KPLO is multifaceted in that way in terms of what it means for South Korea.

Mat Kaplan:

I want to talk a little bit more about ShadowCam, judging from the piece that you wrote for us that people can find at planet.org, of course, it's a mission page, so you can search for KPLO in our search engine on the society website. This looks like a camera that is going to be capable of doing things that have never been done above the moon before.

Jatan Mehta:

That's correct. The team behind ShadowCam is essentially much of the same people that were on LRO's Narrow Angle Camera, which is known to have excellent resolution and has provided us with incredible use of the moon. The difference here is ShadowCam is going to be at least 200 times more sensitive than LRO's NAC, so that makes a huge difference.

Jatan Mehta:

LRO never had a problem with the resolution, but if it wanted to image permanently shadow regions, which it did by the way, but when it wanted to do that, the sensitivity was lacking. Therefore the images wouldn't be look great and you couldn't plan proving or landing missions based on that.

Jatan Mehta:

However, with ShadowCam, since you have at least 200 times the sensitivity, you will be able to see permanently shadow regions almost as if they are sun lit. It also has a very great resolution of about 1.7 meters per pixel at its best, which is pretty great and that's about the size of a typical robotic lander in terms of its diameter. Which means that if you want to plan landing missions and surface missions inside permanently shadow regions, which is where we believe scientists think that where the water is, and-

Mat Kaplan:

Yes.

Jatan Mehta:

... other such resources are. If you want to plan missions there which are meticulous in their nature, then ShadowCam is how it'll be enabled.

Mat Kaplan:

You also write about south Korea's fairly ambitious plans for the future. Tell us about those.

Jatan Mehta:

South Korea has so far made public the idea of having another lunar orbiter being launched soon after the first one, and after that they want to do something far more ambitious which is to have a fully indigenously built robotic lunar lander. Which is again, very similar to what Chandrayaan-2 attempted. The idea is South Korea will have a robotic lunar lander and a rover, and they will be launched on top of an indigenous rocket.

Jatan Mehta:

This is again, very similar to Israel's model where Chandrayaan-2, the obitor and the land stack was launched on GSLV Mark III, which was again an indigenously built rocket. The idea is South Korea wants to be self-sufficient in terms of its Lunar exploration plans. At the same time, since they have a great partnership with NASA or KPLO, which isn't just restricted to ShadowCam, NASA is providing support in terms of mission planning, mission design communications via ground stations when the mission is on.

Jatan Mehta:

There are nine scientists from NASA who joined the KPLO science team in March so as to enhance the mission's output. This sort of a great synergy between NASA and South Korea is really nice to hear about. They want to double down on this because about in May or June around that time, South Korea also signed up to be part of Artemis Accords, which is basically what NASA calls a set of cooperative tools for enhanced Lunar exploration wherein each country that participates and signs Artemis Accords can help each other out and share scientific data, have opportunities for payloads, whenever a mission from any of the countries go, and so on.

Mat Kaplan:

It's great to see the Artemis Accords becoming a truly international effort to eventually as NASA likes to say, put that first woman and next man back on the moon and have a permanent presence there. When can we expect to see the launch of KPLO on a Falcon 9 rocket and reach the moon?

Jatan Mehta:

They are targeting August, 2022 at the earliest for the launch on a Falcon 9, and they are going to take a ballistic trajectory to the moon, which basically means that regardless of any smaller launch delays in terms of let's say a few weeks or a month, it will still reach the moon around the same time as intended in December, 2022.

Mat Kaplan:

Can't wait. Very exciting stuff. Thank you for bringing us this overview. Of course, there are additional details in the mission or on the mission page that Jatan has prepared for us, planetary.org. Jatan again, thank you very much for giving us this little preview of the KPLO mission.

Jatan Mehta:

Thank you so much for having me here. I was glad to do that. Especially because the KPLO reminds me a lot of Chandrayaan-1. I was just 14 when Chandrayaan-1 launched and that thing really inspired me. I hope south Korean students and kids will get inspired just the same.

Mat Kaplan:

And of course we at The Planetary Society, applaud all nations that set out across the silver system to join this grand effort of exploration. Jatan Metha is a contributing editor for The Planetary Society. You can find his independent blog at blog.jatan.space. It includes his really excellent moon Monday weekly updates about all things lunar.

Mat Kaplan:

Jatan was also a science officer for the team in this moon mission effort. He tweets from at uncertain cork. The Wonderful: Stories from the Space Station is available in theaters and everywhere on demand right now. I wish I'd seen it on a really big screen at a dark room with a lot of other space fans. It's not just the beautiful footage and music that make this a great film. It's really much more what the stars bring to the production. Those stars are an international of astronauts and cosmonauts that we spend intimate moments with on the ground and high overhead.

Mat Kaplan:

You'll hear director Clare Lewins, Astronaut Cady Coleman and me talk about many of them, like Bill Shepherd, the man who turned on the lights in the ISS, and Ron Garan who flew on expedition 27, 28, Cady, and wrote the orbital perspective when he returned to earth. There are also some who bid farewell to these space travelers and watched them pass overhead. They include Cady's artist husband, Josh. Clare, Cady and I gathered online a few days ago.

Mat Kaplan:

Clare Lewins, Cady Coleman, welcome and thank you for joining us on planetary radio. It is a pleasure to have you in front of our microphones, but it was also such a pleasure to see this terrific film. Congratulations to both of you on that, and especially to you, Clare, the director of the film. It is quite an accomplishment.

Clare Lewins:

Well, thank you very much, Matthew, and thank you very much to your audience for supporting our film .

Mat Kaplan:

Well, I hope they will because it definitely deserves to be seen and I think that our audience in particular, a whole bunch of space geeks out there are going to love seeing this film. I'm going to start with something that is unrelated. Well, it is related to the film but it's not addressed in the film. Cady, I didn't get to watch your live Netflix coverage last night as we speak of the inspiration for launch, because I was co-hosting a launch party for the Explore Mars nonprofit, a sister group to The Planetary Society. I hope you had as much fun as we did.

Cady Coleman:

It was amazing. Basically being one of the people that gets to bring this launch to everybody really meant a lot to me. But just the fact that that then let me be at the launch and see it. And they like to go to the SpaceX feed when it's actually the launch, which allows us to turn around and actually be present, which was really important to me because there is... Leaving the planet is really, really, really hard.

Cady Coleman:

I think when it happens, there's just something inside where you just realize that everything has to go right and you just so much want it to go. I watched them until they were just a little star and it just meant the world to me to be there.

Mat Kaplan:

I'm not a bit surprised. That's what I expected to hear. Clare, I bet you're not surprised either. There are so many deeply memorable and personal moments in this film that you've created. Did you go into this project expecting that, the level of personal emotion that is in almost every moment of the film?

Clare Lewins:

Well, when actually the producer, George Chignell first came to me with the idea of doing a film at the space station, I said, "No, this isn't for me. I know nothing about science." As a little girl, I lay on the grass with my friends looking up at the stars. I never once second dreamt of actually leaving at earth. That's completely mad. You think of the lovely space and universe to actually leave home and leave the planet.

Clare Lewins:

So I said, "No, this isn't for me." And then I started looking into it. Then the thing that struck me first, and I don't know where I was before not knowing this, but while the 7.5 billion of us are going about everyday lives, there's six people off the planet in this outpost in space. And you're thinking, that is just extraordinary.

Clare Lewins:

Then so I started thinking about it and I was thinking, yes, it is this amazing scientific endeavor and collaboration and just feet of engineering. But that's not what interested me. It's not the 450 tons of spaceship. It's the human stories. Because for every person that goes up there, there's a whole chain of people that get them up there. Astronaut, who's inspired by Garan or John Glenn or the cosmonauts, so I thought for me, it's really the human stories. And all this played out against this vast, amazing black drop of the universe. That's what interested me.

Mat Kaplan:

I totally agree, and I think you did communicate that very well. We talk about the science and technology on this show all the time now and then we get to talk about the intersection with art as well. And I hope that that will come up today. But it's those personal stories which are so very affecting. I counted 10 locations listed in the credits. One of them I'm curious about is there's a closing scene of a father and daughter launching a model rocket. Where did that take place?

Clare Lewins:

Well, Bill Shepherd rings me every other day to ask me where that is. And I said, if I tell him, I'd have to kill him. And if you do like question and answers, so I say, and he says, "Is that place dry? And I said, "It can be." At the end of it I just said, "It's Mars, Bill. Just get it. It's Mars." I'm afraid I can't reveal my sources.

Cady Coleman:

Clare, if I ask you, are you going to give the same answer?

Clare Lewins:

Of course.

Cady Coleman:

Just checking.

Mat Kaplan:

Try again when we're not recording, Cady, and then-

Clare Lewins:

Try again after I've had a glass of wine.

Mat Kaplan:

There's $10 in it for you, Cady, if you'll call me after Clare gives it away.

Cady Coleman:

She's quiet but firm. She gets her answers.

Mat Kaplan:

Also speaking very loudly in the film, well, maybe that's the wrong way to put it, but it is a wonderful presence in the film. Is the music, the soundtrack that you used under the voices of these wonderful people, like Cady, you want to say something about that?

Clare Lewins:

Well, as much as I'm not known for science, music is really important in the films I make because what I was trying to do, once I established that I wanted to make this film about human connection, then I thought the sounds of earth are really important. Each is actually introduced by a sound. With Peggy Whitson, it's a science of a little fly going around the farm. With Tim Peake, it's a sound of the ocean where he grew up. With Cady's story, it's a sound of fire from Josh's kiln.

Clare Lewins:

It's that, don't make it sound like a band from the '70s, but it is earth, wind and fire. Those visceral elemental elements. As part of that, I thought music is so important, and so I worked with this fantastic composer called Ben Foster. It was just a real privilege to work with him. We used as the almost theme, a [inaudible 00:16:08] hymn to a Cherry Boom, and that is this Russian choir, this amazing almost Anthem piece of music. That's what we use in Cady's section when she's in Russia and she takes off. That was the holding theme and we just, Ben just composed into that. But the music is really important.

Mat Kaplan:

It works perfectly. Speaking of music, Cady, I have to mention, I'm a big fan of the Chieftains and Ian Anderson and Jethro Toll, and I always get a kick. I watched it again last night, of your flute floating into the frame before you joined Ian Anderson for that wonderful duet that the two of you did.

Cady Coleman:

I'm very proud of that, actually. First of all, I love that it's this collaboration between two people. I didn't know Ian Anderson. I did not meet him until I got home. I think that I tell people in terms of being on a team and really being your best self, you have to be brave and you have to be open. I think I had to be brave to ask him, not necessarily, would you like me to bring your flute to space, but is there something we could do together that would really share this experience? And he came up with that.

Cady Coleman:

But I think he had to be open. He never heard me play anything when he said, yes, I don't think. He's a real big fan of the space program in a profound and technical way. It's been a really nice friendship since, but that's the theory. Then doing this on board, of course, the time was clicking down and suddenly, by the time the idea was generated and we're going to do it, I really had exactly one lunch time to make this happen.

Cady Coleman:

I am very proud to tell you that it is one take of the flute floating down and playing, and then another take of just playing the music again, in case he needed more than that. Then I uncovered the cameras in the Japanese module and started back to work.

Mat Kaplan:

It's perfect. And there is that intersection of art and science once again. Clare, you opened the film with that memorable speech by John F. Kennedy, about why we do these hard things. It seemed very appropriate even though JFK probably couldn't envision these people living up there above our heads.

Clare Lewins:

I wanted to show the space station really, and when I'm saying this, I'm not an expert in this area, so I know your audience would know more than me, but I wanted to show there's one step and a series of steps of human exploration. This whole desire to explore the universe. It's not going to end with the space station. From there, we learn to go onto new planets or Mars or whatever, so that's why I wanted to give it a bit of gravitas.

Mat Kaplan:

I was surprised by my own reaction several times. For example, watching the lights inside the international space station be switched on for the first time was very effecting.

Clare Lewins:

I remember talking to Bill Shepherd about it and he wants them to go ahead and turn it on first, because it's a first ever expedition. That's why in the sequence, I thought of that young boy who was dreaming of being a cosmonaut, he turns off the light of the sports way of playing football, and then next time you hear that music they're turning on the lights of the space station. I thought it was symbolic really, of a new era.

Mat Kaplan:

Okay. You're opening my eyes and ears to other things that because I didn't even catch that in the film, but thank you. I have to tell you that even though you feature all these wonderful astronauts like Cady, the person that I sadly had to identify most with was also at the top of the film, Ginger Kerrick, who trained some of the early crews to go on the ISS, but she really wanted to go up there herself. And it was just health problems that prevented her following that dream.

Mat Kaplan:

But then there are so many of us who would like to follow in your footsteps, Cady, and make our way up there. I guess that's why missions like Inspiration4 are so exciting to us. But I feel that watching all of you when you're up there as well, much as I would like to join you, it sure is great to see the rest of you, especially in that cooper, looking down on us here on our pale blue dot.

Cady Coleman:

I love that you brought up Ginger's story in that I worked very much with Ginger and I worked on that first expedition and as somebody who worked in training and then became a flight director. Ginger is supreme and she's just so, she's so knowledgeable and she has both the big picture and the smaller picture, and especially at this early time of working with the Russians and figuring things out.

Cady Coleman:

Those times were not easy and it was real people that built those bridges and Ginger is certainly one of those people. In terms of something in your medical history, it doesn't even have to be a problem, but in the early days they restricted... It's really because we're big lab rats. And we don't have that many people go into space and if there's 10 people that do that test, and then something shows up, is it because of your past history, or is it because of what happened in space, they want to be definitive.

Cady Coleman:

It's just totally unfair. But it is the way it is. But I think for me, it makes me feel all that more responsible that I was in a position that my medical history worked, and that I felt very qualified and at the same time there's a right place and a right time, and so none of us goes alone. And the fact that Clare would make this film that brings other people to this special place where not enough people have gone meant the world to me.

Mat Kaplan:

The focus of course is on those of you who got to make that trip. Maybe I think it's 400 people out of the seven billion who've been able to get up there so far. Hopefully those numbers will-

Cady Coleman:

More like 600.

Mat Kaplan:

600. Thank you. Okay. Still quite an imbalance there. One that hopefully in the coming years, as a new age begins we're going to see, start to balance out a little bit better. But Clare, I wonder, among these people and they are special people who have been able to make trip, did you develop any sense of what these men and women who've flown in space, what they have in common? Is there something that unites them?

Clare Lewins:

That's a very interesting question, actually, because I thought when I first started, I thought these people have got to be much, much cleverer than the rest of us, and which they are by the way. And they've got to be much braver than the rest of us, which they're certainly braver than me. I don't even like going in elevators.

Clare Lewins:

But what I found, what it was, and I know it's at this time of COVID and all this stress of it, the epidemic, what I found and I found it really moving was this incredible determination, this quite determination just to keep going. It's like with Peggy Whitson, I think she was rejected 10 times and she still kept going. Then now she's, her nickname is a space ninja, and she will be going up again. It's this whole thing of just quietly getting on with it. That's one of the things I found.

Clare Lewins:

And they're also incredibly dextrous, for some reason I gave Samantha Cristoforetti a box when I first met her, which had a secret draw. I was about to explain to her where it was and she'd already opened it, as she was talking to me. She'd done that and she'd done it. I was thinking, wow. They can hang upside down. I'm absolutely blown away by them actually. And how lucky we are to have people like that who would risk everything just for science and human exploration. They're the pathfinders that go ahead for the rest of us really.

Cady Coleman:

And looking at Inspiration4, Clare, you talk very... I was on the edge of my seat about whether you're going to say we're clever or not. But everybody brings something and knowing the four people up there right now bring so much and so many with them. And so I'm just, I don't know. It really means a lot to me.

Mat Kaplan:

Clare Lewins, Cady Coleman and I will be back in a minute with more stories of The Wonderful.

Bruce Betts:

Hi again, everyone. It's Bruce, many of you know that I'm the program manager for The Planetary Society's LightSail Program. LightSail 2 made history with its launch and deployment in 2019, and it's still sailing. It will soon be featured in the Smithsonians new futures exhibition. Your support made this happen.

Bruce Betts:

LightSail still has much to teach us. Will you help us sail on into our extended mission? Your gift will sustain operations and help us inform future solar sailing missions like NASA's Neo Scout. When you give today, your contribution will be matched up to $25,000 by a generous society member. Plus when you give $100 or more, we will send you the official LightSail 2 extended mission patch to where with pride. Make your count contribution to science and history at planetary.org/S-A-I-L-O-N, that's planetary.org/sailon. Thanks.

Mat Kaplan:

One of the topics that I like to bring up on the show, especially when I talk to astronauts, is how astronauts have changed over the years. I've been lucky enough to talk to several of the Apollo astronauts. They have the right stuff to coin a phrase. So do all of you who have followed them. But there is a difference and it seems to me, and this is something I've talked with Andy [Chicken 00:26:00] about as well and he agrees, that those of you who came after that era have so more.

Mat Kaplan:

Samantha is a good example of this. She's just one of the nicest people in the world. And Cady, we haven't met before, but I have the same impression of you. I suspect that NASA makes a point of selecting nice people, because you're going to have to get along with several other nice people for a long time in a very cramp space working very hard.

Cady Coleman:

Maybe it's just the women that are so nice. I am just teasing. I am just teasing. It is actually I think a myth. I think we are. Well, I'll put it this way. I don't think that we're necessarily so different than the early astronauts, but I think the culture of what does doing your job mean? And within doing that job, is it okay to be generous and share that experience and show a different side of you?

Cady Coleman:

Some people choose to some people don't. Back then, I think there was a clearer mission, and they were actually just [inaudible 00:27:08] busy doing all that development to be able to let those other sides of them show. I don't know that we're so different, but I do love that more and more people have gone. For me, of course a lot of that is tied up in the question of women going.

Cady Coleman:

It actually meant the world to me when Jeff Bezos brought Wally Funk to space with him on his first mission. He could have brought anybody, and he chose to bring Wally. When he did that, basically when Wally flies, all of us who are that 50% of the planet go with her. Back in those early days, I don't think that those 13 women were ever promised, you will be astronauts. But if you read the correspondence, they were certainly told, you have a lot of skills that a bunch of women don't have in terms of time with airplanes and all those things. They passed or surpassed those tests that the mercury astronauts took.

Cady Coleman:

They felt like they were... These letters said, will you come and do this testing in the hopes that NASA will bring women. And the letters that go back pretty much say, we've got a selection process and it pretty much works, and we don't really have time to redo it and look at a whole different category. These test pilots, their records are really easy to access. We know who they are. And we just don't have time to include other people.

Cady Coleman:

It wasn't until the '80s that then we have women flying in space as well. I am glad that things have changed in that way. It is films like Clare's that, she shows several women in that film and we're all clearly very different people. And I think that's a really important point too.

Mat Kaplan:

I also don't want to imply that any of you have any less of the right stuff than those early astronauts did. I think of the story Andy Chicken told on our show a few weeks ago. He said that he would was on a committee, they were talking to astronaut candidates and they were blown away by how well qualified all of them were. And an Apollo astronaut was sitting next to him. Someone he'd known for years, turned to one of the other Apollo astronauts now that I think of it and said, "You know what, if we were applying now, I don't think I'd have accepted us that because these people, all of you are so qualified."

Mat Kaplan:

I want to move on to something else. Clare, the overview effect is only specifically referred to once by Scott Kelly toward the end of the film. But it is of course, it's that effect that was identified and is so eloquently written about by the great Frank White. It comes up frequently on this show in conversations with astronauts and others. I think I could hear it though, behind much of what we hear in the film. Was it something that you wanted consciously, that you wanted the audience to hear as well?

Clare Lewins:

It's just they've got this amazing, the astronauts have got an amazing vantage point. As Cady said, it's 600 old people that have that privilege to be above the earth. Scott Kelly talks about how fragile the earth looks, and then Samantha says she's, Samantha Cristoforetti says, she's like a guardian with their arms embracing the earth. You never really feel that far away. That of course is interesting.

Mat Kaplan:

Absolutely. Cady, did you feel it? Did you have a sense of what we now know as the overview effect as you circle the earth?

Cady Coleman:

I don't really like to put a label on it in that way. But when I look back at the earth, it's just so clear in a very visceral way that everyone else is down there and they're all connected to each other. And my thought is if only they knew. If only they knew that just on the other side of the earth is somebody who surely cares about climate change, the same amount that they do.

Cady Coleman:

Knowing that people could be connected, when I get home it's my mission to help make that happen. To use that view that I had up there, that surety that people should find each other to solve our problems down here, just makes me really determined to be a part of making those solutions happen.

Mat Kaplan:

Even if you're not putting that label on it, that is the message that I've heard from so many other astronauts and I'm glad to hear it from you as well.

Cady Coleman:

Have you interviewed Ron Garan? I don't know if you have.

Mat Kaplan:

Ron was on the show quite a while back. Yes. And we did talk about this.

Cady Coleman:

He and I hosted last night together and just listening to him, he made a profound difference for me up on the station of opening my world to more of a global view, where mine had been more just my experience, the people that I knew, the communities I knew, and he really gave me a better feel for coming from the whole world.

Mat Kaplan:

Shout out to Ron then. You also made me think of something that is in the film that's said by Koichi Wakata, who quotes our founder at The Planetary Society, Carl Sagan, from his wonderful pale blue dot speech. That's here, that's home, that's us. It wasn't quite a dot for those of you just 200 miles or so overhead. But I think it's appropriate.

Cady Coleman:

I loved seeing that. In fact, I took a screenshot, Clare, from my copy, really just for me. Not to be sending out anywhere, but just for me because it captured something that I very much feel when I'm up there.

Mat Kaplan:

Clare family seems to be another recurring theme, Sergey Volkov and his astronaut father Alexander, watching Tim Peake's wife and kids at his launch. Perhaps most effectively, Cady's story that I'm going to come back to in a moment. But I wonder, was that also a theme that you were hoping people would catch on too?

Clare Lewins:

Okay, as Cady was saying earlier, it's a human connections really, for Cady to be able to go up into space or for Tim Peake to be able to get into space. This is a family unit. What I found really moving, from Kazakhstan, the families are all waving through glass and then you have the [inaudible 00:33:12], so the kids with Tim Peake. Then they get an email in space, and Koichi's trying not to cry when he's talking to his son.

Clare Lewins:

And it's this whole space between the words, the fact that you may be 250 miles above earth, but you've got this connection. That's to me, it was a really important, and that's what we're really thrilled about, that humanity, that we are connected like that.

Mat Kaplan:

Cady, every review of The Wonderful that I've read so far mentions that very touching scene when your husband, Josh and your son are standing under the stars and they watch you pass by overhead like a wandering star. It is that it is one of those scenes that I'll probably remember all my life.

Cady Coleman:

It meant a lot to me to watch the film when it was finished in that I didn't hear any of the interviews that Clare did with my son and my husband. And I know from my end, Clare asked me questions that no one had ever asked me. And I just thought, this is going to be a very interesting and unusual film. But then when I got to actually see and hear our section and listen to my son and my husband talk about what it was like for them, it really just meant the world to me.

Cady Coleman:

It was actually hard for me. Certainly I cried. Then we actually, we are all in different places now and I have another son as well as stepson, and we all ended up in the same place and gathered up to watch the movie again together. Life gets busy and we don't go back and always go back and think about what that meant to all of us, and it was really an important time when the film came out to do it together.

Mat Kaplan:

I was also struck, I'm always struck by how many of you are on the ISS, in a sense, create new families, even if they're temporary families, just with your companions on the space station. I think I saw this again with the Inspiration4 crew last night. Did you get that sense of family when you spent months, nearly six months on the station?

Cady Coleman:

Absolutely. There there's actually the space family, meaning anyone who you know is going to go to space, who's selected to be an astronaut, it makes you realize that there's a certain something that you have in common, even if you're very different from that person. Whether they are a billionaire, or they are a person that bought a ticket on Virgin Galactic, or they're someone who is flying science experiments on blue origin.

Cady Coleman:

There is that connection and I think it as a family. In fact, we don't have technical relationship with China in terms of discussing space technology, but we have an organization of the Association of Space Explorers, everyone who's been to space, of which now we have four more members as of last night.

Cady Coleman:

Within that family, we talk about the things that are important to us about how we feel about being astronauts. And on a crew itself, there is something very special. It meant a lot to me actually just last night to be co-hosting the Netflix Time livestream of the Inspiration4 launch with Ron. Where we remind each other of stories that we hadn't thought about and we have a funny little thing that we say. I go, I miss brushing my teeth with you. It's small, but we used to brush our teeth in the same place that was right around the corner from the bathroom. You weren't taking up the bathroom, but it was a little place that we just made the messy place.

Cady Coleman:

We'd often, that's where Ron and I started our day. I miss those times and we always just have special relationships, even when we don't have so much in common or we don't get to see each other, there's always that string between you because you shared something very special and I think it's that human relationship part that gets you through that and helps you overcome the differences that you might have.

Mat Kaplan:

I know that your time is limited. You've got a lot of other folks to talk to about this film, as well as everything else going on in your lives. I've got a few other questions if you have time. Clare, I want to go to another angle of the film, which is that you didn't shy away from the downside, the difficulty, the not loneliness, but the separation that was enforced that all of these astronauts know that they are headed into.

Mat Kaplan:

But it's also dealing with things that were happening below them, even tragedies. I think of like 9/11 when Frank Culbertson on Expedition 3, had to be told what had happened and that they could actually see the smoke coming from the world trade tower site. That incredibly effecting moment when he plays taps on the trumpet as the station rolls on, followed by his journal entry. I can certainly see why this was also a part of the experience that you wanted to bring out.

Clare Lewins:

Well, I think if you can just show space, really, space exploration, you have to show the downsides, the danger. Scott Kelly's, as he said, he's listening to a rebellious about killing me softly and he's sitting on 250 tons of effects to be a bomb. And there is a jeopardy, there is a danger. Josh said about Cady, my wife didn't want to die but she has to be aware of the danger is, with the actual 9/11 story with Frank Culbertson.

Clare Lewins:

It was more than that. It was that existential thing. He's almost the only person off the planet. He's not the only person, but he's the only American off the planet when somebody is attacking earth, and he can see it all unfolding yet he can't do anything. For me what was really moving about the story other than the obvious, was the fact that in Moscow mission control, they all kept saying, how's Frank, how's Frank. It was the fact that they were looking out for him that really gives you that sense of humanity reaching out to each other. I think Cady, you mentioned to me that it was you that he spoke to.

Cady Coleman:

That voice when you hear mission control, that's actually me talking to Frank.

Mat Kaplan:

You were a Capcom that day during that shift-

Cady Coleman:

That day.

Mat Kaplan:

Wow. Oh my.

Cady Coleman:

I walked in just as the second tower was coming down to start my shift and we moved to mission control to a different location. People had already talked to Frank about what was going on, but certainly he and I have a different relationship to this day because of spending that week together. When we were up there, there was a tsunami that struck Japan. To me, it was an interesting, and looking back on it, we had just captured for the second time ever a supply ship up on the space station with the robotic arm, and it's a Japanese supply ship.

Cady Coleman:

And so we worked really closely with that team and their mission control was affected, damaged and even evacuated. People were looking for their families. It gives me chills just to think about it. This was definitely part of our team on the ground. We took pictures of Japan from space, we asked what time we'd be going over and they said, "Well, it's going to be while you're sleeping." Said, "Well, that's not what we asked you." We said, "When are we going over Japan?"

Cady Coleman:

We took pictures night and day in those pictures were actually helpful in terms of understanding how much power was left there and what Japan looked like. We asked them what we could do and they asked us to make these white cranes out of origami, and those white cranes and the making of them was on Japanese billboards for a long time, representing that those white cranes represent hope and rebuilding.

Mat Kaplan:

Clare, this can't help but remind me of the international nature of this film. You went so deeply into the stories, the personal stories of astronauts around the world, Russia, the United States, the UK, Japan, Italy, a very important theme, and I think one that is so well-represented by the international space station itself, this great international collaboration, right?

Clare Lewins:

It's one of the biggest enterprises in peacetime of international collaborations anyway. And it was, I think Ginger, who said, if she hadn't heard about the space race and all that cold war, she just from on the ground, she wouldn't have never known. Because I think when you're up there, you have to rely... Cady would know better than me, but you have to rely on your colleagues for life and death, so you have to get on that sheet. But it was important to reflect the international theme, because sometimes people just think of NASA or they may just think, but it's actually, JAXA, Roscosmos, CSA and iSSA.

Mat Kaplan:

iSSA, yeah.

Clare Lewins:

I think Samantha was a bit surprised. We came to film her in her village in Italy at Christmas.

Mat Kaplan:

That was charming, by the way.

Clare Lewins:

I know. I said, "Can you indulge me? I imagine you're looking up at the stars as a young girl." She said, "Well, that's what I did up in the mountains." I said, "Are you going to go back to your own?" [inaudible 00:42:39] Christmas. I said, "Okay, we'll come there." [inaudible 00:42:42] I think she was a bit surprised.

Clare Lewins:

But anyway but it was just, I just wanted to show, really it's about dreams as well. Young people, kids. And Koichi dreaming of being an astronaut, he has no cultural references for that. It's not like here in America with John Glenn or, he just wants to be an astronaut.

Mat Kaplan:

Cady, speaking of role models, you had the same title, one of your titles on your International Space Station mission, of science officer that Leonard Nimoy Spock had on the enterprise. They kept you very, very busy, I know. You were also a robotics officer, or robotics lead, I guess. We talk about that a lot on this show, but I'm more wondering about what you did in your spare time, some of which is in the film. We've already talked about your flute. I think you're well known for that. Then spending time just looking down at earth?

Cady Coleman:

It is actually incredibly busy up there and when you talk about spare time, I think, well, I practiced robotics in my spare time. And actually just getting the science experiments ready or talking with our crew about what those experiments meant or why so careful or exactly this way. There's a lot of your spare time that gets used up that way, but you have to be a human up there. For me, a big part of that was talking to my family, which I did every day except for three. Then on the weekends, we would have video conferences.

Cady Coleman:

I have to tell you that in looking for film for Clare, to have, I went back and looked at my family conferences and I only had really mind viewpoint of what they were like when I call down, we'd have this video conference and then, maybe it would have the connection wouldn't break and there's always someone in Houston helping you with that.

Cady Coleman:

But what I got to see when I asked for the copies of these was video of my family, what happens when they don't see me anymore? And they don't realize that I'm actually, I mean I'm not seeing them but now in the after video. I'm getting to see their frustration with the connection and just what it's like to be trying to talk to your mom up on the space station when it looks like she's there, but then she went away and those kinds of frustrations of everyday life. Something that I think really kept us going, was the stability of being able to talk literally on the phone.

Cady Coleman:

I learned from what my training around the world reading stories with my son and it was really about having a place to be together where we actually were reading Peter and the Starcatchers, which I think is a great series about the life before Peter Pan. And it has smart girls and smart boys and sword fights. And so getting to read stories to him and getting to spend that time together really meant the world to me. And I spent a lot of time every day actually doing that stuff. And that was really my choice to do

Mat Kaplan:

Clare. I have to mention one other favorite scene before I ask you one more question, and that was when Scott Kelly who has just returned home, he tumbles into his backyard pool, still wearing his flight suit. I laughed, but I also felt his profound sense of relief. And there are a lot of moments that are similar to that, that are really intimate moments in the film. What has changed in your thinking about these people who go into space and all the work it takes to get them there?

Clare Lewins:

I always thought they must be special people but it's an awful lot of hard work. It's a lot of training and it's a sacrifice. When that first expedition one happened five years I think Bill said he was able to training on and off in Russia. It was pretty hardcore the training, they trained them into the icy water thing. But what it made me realize was just how their way and they're so pleased to be in space and so happy and privilege, but then it's a relief when you come home.

Clare Lewins:

But then I imagine it's then it's difficult because what Scott said a bit like when Cady said, "What spare time?" There's something called, I don't know, Cady, I think it's called chasing the line or something. So they're trying to do all these schedules. And you're constantly every single-

Cady Coleman:

Oh yes. Chasing the blue line. That is like, this is where you are and this is what you're supposed to have already done.

Clare Lewins:

That's every minute of the day is like that, every little segment is as a sign and people down in NASA or wherever Ruskin was planning all that. So when he finally came back after a year, he didn't know what to do with the spare time. It was really discombobulating him because he had nobody. He could go and get a beer we wanted or whatever, there was nobody he didn't have to do anything. I think it's the adjustments you have to make is quite, I hadn't thought about that.

Mat Kaplan:

I need to let the two of you go. It is a very busy time. I know with this film coming out and I congratulate both of you again. I will close with just one more quote from one of a review of the film from New Scientist, "The story of success that is the space station, leaves the viewer with hope that when working together humans can do great things." Clare, Cady thank you so much and best of continued success.

Clare Lewins:

Thank you very much.

Cady Coleman:

No, I was just going to say that after listening to this, I realized that I need to watch the film about 40 more times. There's a fascinating amount of depth and I really loved every minute of this film. But it's interesting to think about all the different things that Clare has put in there. It'll take me awhile to learn.

Clare Lewins:

I don't think you need to watch 40-

Cady Coleman:

Wow.[crosstalk 00:48:35]. A few more.

Mat Kaplan:

Something to look forward to.

Cady Coleman:

It's true.

Mat Kaplan:

We better get-

Cady Coleman:

Careful.

Mat Kaplan:

... out of here before Universal never lets me go to one of their movies again. Thank you again both of you, this was great.

Clare Lewins:

Thanks Mat.

Cady Coleman:

Thanks very much Mat.

Mat Kaplan:

You know what time it is, right? It's time for what's up on Planetary Radio. Here is the chief scientist of the Planetary Society, Dr. Bruce Betts. And I have bad news that I have to share.

Bruce Betts:

What? I'm so scared.

Mat Kaplan:

It's Mark Raymond. He brazenly ignored our ban on him, entering the contest question that we're going to answer today. I don't know what to do. I just don't know what to do.

Bruce Betts:

Huh. Well, we'll see the nature of the infraction and then we'll see how to deal with Mark. Well, let's move on and we'll come back to this grave grave issue that you've raised.

Mat Kaplan:

It's an infraction. At least.

Bruce Betts:

There's a flag on the plane. Looking low in the west, we got Dennis looking super bright and beautiful. And then a little while on October 9th, they'll be joined by the Crescent moon, very close to it should make a magical pairing. We've also got the reddest star Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius to its upper left. They will get closer and closer until they're pretty darn close in mid-October so you can look for that.

Bruce Betts:

And then over on the other side of the sky, well almost. In the East, Southeast, that really bright thing over there is Jupiter and to its right, a yellowish less bright thing is Saturn. So good evening skies continue. We move on to this week in space history. It was 2007 that the mission we'll talk about at the end of the show, Dawn was launched 14 years ago and in 2014, seven years later both the MAVEN mission and the Mars Orbiter Mission went into orbit around Mars. I'll come back to talking about Mars orbiters too.

Mat Kaplan:

And here is were Mark Raymond may start to redeem himself. He let me know last week that this week marks the 20th anniversary of Deep Space 1, his earlier ion propelled spacecraft taking NASA's first closeup image of a comet nucleus, comet Borrelly. On to

Bruce Betts:

[inaudible 00:51:01]

Mat Kaplan:

Want to take time to swallow that?

Bruce Betts:

Yeah, that's tasty. Speaking of tasty, let me wash that down with a standard U.S. size soda can. And you know I was thinking, if the volume of the earth fit inside a standard soda can, and I'm using the U.S. size 12 ounce, 355 millimeter meter, milliliter excuse me. The earth could fit in, was the size of that soda can than to fit the volume of Jupiter. You'd need about two bathtubs worth of volume.

Mat Kaplan:

And this is the kind of stuff that he talks about when you have lunch with him. And he's got a can of soda in his hand, it makes for a lot of fun.

Bruce Betts:

It's fun stuff. It's sodas and bathtubs. What more do you need? Maybe we should go on to the trivia contest.

Mat Kaplan:

Go to RSF, go ahead.

Bruce Betts:

I asked what fuel did the Dawn spacecraft used for its ion engines and in kilograms, how much of that fuel did they launch with? How'd we do Mat besides the infraction that you'll tell us about?

Mat Kaplan:

That. I keep everybody in suspense about, here's our Poet Laureate Dave Fairchild. Dawn has got the ion engines, futuristic stuff indeed. When you travel out to series, constant thrust is what you need. Back in fuel and numbered kilos four to five to be exact, filler up with Xenon gasses because this ship ain't coming back

Dave:

Indeed Xenon 425 kilograms.

Mat Kaplan:

Thank you Dave very much. Here is our winner and he is a first time winner. Andrew Grimes in Colorado who said, yeah, yeah, it was Xenon and 425 kilograms of it. Amazing. A interplanetary spacecraft visiting Vesta and Ceres. Congratulations Andrew, you have won yourself a hardcover copy of that brand new children's book, Leonardo's Fascinating World of Astronomy by astrophysicist Sarafina Nance illustrated by a Greg Paprocki. And it's a fun little book. It's very well-designed and should be fun for kids and grown ups, I would say.

Mat Kaplan:

Here's some other stuff we'll end with Mark Raymond. Ben drought in Iowa, one engine had a maximum thrust to 0.09 Newtons. So Dawn's acceleration at launch mass was about 74 micro meters per second squared. Not quite the rust snotty but still darn cool. That was translated by Matthew Easton and Virginia as did zero to 60 miles per hour in four days.

Bruce Betts:

But it just kept going.

Mat Kaplan:

Yeah. Ian Gilroy at Australia, that's only a little slower than my first car in 1967, Vauxhall Viva HB. You don't see a lot of those on the road here in the U.S. [inaudible 00:54:00]. Robert LaPorte more than 51,385 hours of thrust from those ion engines. That's the magic, right?

Bruce Betts:

It is.

Mat Kaplan:

Fact about Xenon from Daniel Cozart in the UK.

Bruce Betts:

I love Xenon facts.

Mat Kaplan:

Well, don't we all. Did you know that Xenon is also used as a general anesthetic? He says personally, I cool it down a little bit every morning. Use it for shaving.

Bruce Betts:

No, I was not aware of that. Wow. Wow.

Mat Kaplan:

Finally, this from [Set Upon 00:54:36] and I'm not going to try your last name Set Upon. I'm sorry, this I guess we'll have to ask Mark about this. He wants to know why they left on in orbit around series. Maybe they could have edged it into the surface. I think it might've been a little faster than just edging up to a little tiny asteroid. I don't know if it was planetary protection or what, but I don't know, do you want to take a guess with that or I bet we can get a response from Mark.

Bruce Betts:

Why don't we go with Mark? Who is this mark you speak of?

Mat Kaplan:

Mark. Mark Raymond. You mean the chief engineer for mission operations in science, at JPL, who is or was the chief engineer and mission director for Dawn, the spacecraft that we've been talking about?

Bruce Betts:

Yes. Well, I mean, that's probably the Mark Guy. That's the Mark I assume you were talking about.

Mat Kaplan:

That's the one, that's the one, the [inaudible 00:55:25] man. Here he wrote about his band and I said, "Well, you can enter if you give us the number of atoms." So he did. We supplied Dawn with 1.95 times 10 to the 27th Adams of Xenon before it embarked on its extraordinary extraterrestrial expedition. He says, it's so delightfully quaint that you asked for the answer in kilograms and I could convert to kilograms if you really want. Although you asked for the number in scientific notation. I'll also note that in SI units, that's 1,950 yadda atoms. And I imagine most Planetary Radio listeners would agree. That's a heck of a lot of yadda atoms.

Bruce Betts:

That is. And can you imagine the person or the job to count those?

Mat Kaplan:

Oh yeah. Maybe they had one of those little Maxwell demons do the work for them. Mark also mentioned that this week, I'd mentioned that 20th anniversary of Deep Space 1, but he recommended his TED talk TEDx talk, that he called if it isn't impossible, it isn't worth trying. And it's terrific, it's really fun to watch. And we'll have the link on this week's show page of planetary.org/radio. Wasn't that fun?

Bruce Betts:

That was fun. Should we have more fun?

Mat Kaplan:

Yeah. Please.

Bruce Betts:

Well then let me give another question. What currently functioning, currently functioning Mars orbiter has the longest orbital period? In other words, it takes the longest time to go around Mars, go to planetary.org/radiocontest.

Mat Kaplan:

All right, you have until Wednesday, September 29th at 8:00 AM Pacific time to get us this answer. We're going to give away another rubber asteroid because I'm told that we still have a fair number in the box at headquarters. So back that can be yours. If you come up with the right answer for this one and get chosen by random.org. We're done.

Bruce Betts:

All right, everybody go out there and look up the night sky and think about castles. Thank you and good night

Mat Kaplan:

Castles in the sky. That's Bruce Betts. He's the chief scientist and the LightSail program manager for the Planetary Society and he joins us every week for what's up. Planetary Radio is produced by the Planetary Society in Pasadena, California. And this made possible by its space ready members launch with us at planetary.org/join. Mark Hill Verda and Jason Davis are associate producers. Josh Doyle composed our theme, which is arranged and performed by Peter Schlosser [inaudible 00:58:04].