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The Inside Story-Liftoff! TRANSCRIPT


The Inside Story-Liftoff!

TRANSCRIPT:

The Inside Story: Liftoff!

Episode 69 – December 8, 2022

Show Open:

NASA Audio:

3…2….1… Liftoff of Artemis !!

Brenda Mulberry, Owner, Space Shirts:

Excitement is over the moon.

Unidentified Narrator:

After months of delays and setbacks…

Stan Love, NASA Astronaut:

It’s the first time we’ve flown this rocket and this capsule…

Unidentified Narrator:

NASA’s Artemis 1 blasts into the heavens, ushering in a new era of space exploration.

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

Now our generation is going to have its own moonshots!

Unidentified Narrator:

Back to the moon… and beyond.… now on The Inside Story: Liftoff!

The Inside Story:

KANE FARABAUGH, VOA Midwest Correspondent:

Thanks for joining us, I’m VOA Midwest Correspondent Kane Farabaugh here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

Fifty years since people last walked on the surface of the moon, hundreds of thousands are drawn to Florida’s Space Coast…

To witness the beginning of a new chapter of NASA’s human spaceflight mission, with the launch of the agency’s rocket and spacecraft system, designed to return astronauts to the lunar surface, with the goal of one day reaching Mars.

The first step back to the moon however, is unmanned, and marks the beginning of NASA’s Artemis mission. As it launches into the sky, it carries with the agency’s hope of reinvigorating interest in space exploration.

For nearly forty years, Brenda Mulberry has owned a space themed clothing shop not far from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where business was slow since Space Shuttle launches ended in 2011.

But this year, she says, is different.

Brenda Mulberry, Owner, Space Shirts:

Excitement is over the moon.

KANE FARABAUGH:

People are flocking to Mulberry’s store to get anything they can related to NASA’s new Artemis mission.

Brenda Mulberry, Owner, Space Shirts:

On a normal day we might see 60 to 70 people in a day in our store, and we’re seeing hundreds and hundreds and hundreds an hour. It’s a zoo.

KANE FARABAUGH:

After overcoming some last-minute technical issues, NASA’s Space Launch System, or S-L-S, rocket and boosters successfully roared into the night sky over Florida’s space coast carrying an unmanned Orion spacecraft into the heavens on a test flight to the moon.

Andrin, Swiss Fighter Pilot:

I always admired rockets and fast vehicles, and that’s probably why I became a fighter pilot now.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Andrin, a Swiss Air Force F-18 fighter pilot, traveled from Switzerland to Florida just to watch the historic Artemis 1 launch up close, in person.

Andrin, Swiss Fighter Pilot:

The SLS rocket has about 250 times the thrust of an F-18 fighter jet so that is quite a bit more than I am used to.

John McDonald, Retiree:

The loudest thing that has ever launched.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Retiree John McDonald joined throngs of visitors filling parks and viewing areas near Kennedy Space Center to witness the event he described as “unifying” for a country divided by polarizing politics in the wake of mid-term elections.

John McDonald, Retiree:

Nobody here is talking about whether they are Trump people or Biden people. Politics doesn’t enter into any of this. They are just here for one thing, to see space and to see that rocket launch.

Josh Novack, Author and Artist:

Nobody cares about whether you are red, blue, purple, whatever. I think it is a great unifier to have something like this to latch on to.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Florida author and artist Josh Novack hopes the Artemis program reinvigorates interest in space exploration like NASA’s Apollo missions to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Josh Novack, Author and Artist:

I can see how an event like that can bring people together and galvanize everybody towards a goal, and I think that goal should be improving life on Earth and I think a great way to do that is to explore space.

KANE FARABAUGH:

One of the main goals of the 26 day Artemis 1 mission around the moon is to test the new Orion spacecraft in preparation for crewed missions.

Stan Love, NASA Astronaut:

It’s amazingly cool!

KANE FARABAUGH:

NASA Astronaut Stan Love says plans for Artemis includes diversifying the makeup of the crews, paving the way for the first woman and person of color to make history on the lunar surface.

Stan Love, NASA Astronaut:

We are going to broaden our demographics, so it won’t just be white guys on the moon.

Branelle Rodriguez, NASA Program Integration Manager, Orion:

I call it the Artemis generation. Apollo had a twin sister – Artemis – and this is our generation.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Branelle Rodriguez is an integration manager for NASA’s Orion capsule which will house the astronauts.

Branelle Rodriguez, NASA Program Integration Manager, Orion:

I think it’s a fantastic thing for us to experience, for people to go explore and create a presence on the moon.

Stan Love, NASA Astronaut:

It’s the first time we’ve flown this rocket and this capsule so there are many, many things that can go wrong. This is a test flight. Don’t get your expectations too high.

KANE FARABAUGH:

But with throngs of tourists gathering in Florida for each launch attempt, plus reporters from around the world assembled at Cape Canaveral, astronaut Stan Love knows those expectations are high, due in part to the large price tag of the endeavor.

The cost of the rocket and boosters has grown from $10 billion to $20 billion, with each successful launch costing about $4.1 billion. NASA’s Inspector General expects the overall Artemis program to reach $93 billion by the time the first astronauts return to the surface of the moon.

Doug Hurley, Former NASA Astronaut, Northrup Grumman:

But we have challenges. We gotta make sure the vehicle is ready to go, we gotta make sure it’s safe for crew, and those things just take time.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Doug Hurley is a retired NASA astronaut who flew on the first crewed mission of Space X’s Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station.

What do you say to those who say this is over budget and behind schedule?”

Doug Hurley, Former NASA Astronaut, Northrup Grumman:

I’ve heard that my whole career. Every aircraft I’ve been involved with, every spacecraft I’ve been involved with. We heard that with Crew Dragon flying - it was six years from the time the contract was awarded to the time we flew. It takes time to build these complicated machines. But it’s worth it.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Hurley says patience, and expenditure, will be rewarded.

Doug Hurley, Former NASA Astronaut, Northrup Grumman:

I mean when you look at NASA’s budget - ½ of one percent of the federal budget. And S-L-S is a small part of NASA’s budget, so to me, it’s all perspective.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Space Shirts owner Brenda Mulberry says that criticism is hard to find on Florida’s Space Coast. She credits Artemis with creating jobs and increasing tourism in a part of the state that lost jobs and visitors when the Space Shuttle program ended.

Brenda Mulberry, Owner, Space Shirts:

I think everybody in the area underestimated the power this was going to have.

KANE FARABAUGH:

The first crewed mission back to the moon – to orbit but not to land – is Artemis 2, currently schedule for 2024, with Artemis 3 returning astronauts to lunar surface by 2025.

Recently, NASA announced their initial selection of 18 astronauts participating in the upcoming crewed Artemis missions.

The agency plans to land the first woman, the first person of color, and the next man on the moon in just a few years. In the lead up to the Artemis 1 launch, we talked with Victor Glover, a U.S. Navy aviator and test pilot, and now one of the astronauts hoping to make history in NASA’s return to the moon.

So, Victor, tell me what it's like to sort of be here right now in this moment? The clock behind you says…

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

It's unreal. I mean it sounds a little cliche but to be at the place where the Apollo missions launched from all those shuttle launches happened from, and I actually launched from that next door neighbor launch pad right there just under two years ago. But it's still surreal to be here.

This is one of my favorite places on the planet, and that's just any day of the week, but when there's a big rocket like SLS or Orion sitting over there, it's just the buzz here, the energy. It's really special. And my favorite part about this is the excitement of all the NASA employees who have worked hard for years to make this happen.

KANE FARABAUGH:

What is that excitement like? What is it at right now? I mean, you weren't born when Apollo was happening so I'm sure there's really nothing to equate this to, is there?

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

It's really neat to, like, stand on the precipice of maybe the next thing like that happening knowing it.

We call things moonshots when humans do great things, right? And so, our generation doesn't have that, so we look back at Apollo for that inspiration. So now our generation is going to have its own moon shots. And so that's, I think, a part of it for all of us. And I love the fact that it's connected. The legacy of Apollo and Apollo–Soyuz and the shuttle and ISS and our partnerships with SpaceX and Boeing. People say this is a marathon not a sprint. I say it's actually a relay race.

And so those programs have all informed what we're doing now. They've handed us the stick, and now it's time for us to run our best leg. And so this is going to open the door for us to send humans to the moon. And I mean I just, it's hard to imagine anything more exciting for people all over the world.

KANE FARABAUGH:

But this mission is also not just charting new paths in space, it's also sort of crossing historic barriers in gender, race, ethnicity, culture. Can you talk about that a bit?”

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

Well of course you know you heard the line it originally was we're going to send the first woman and the next man to the moon. And then it became you know we're going to send the first woman and the first person of color to the moon. And I'll say here's what I think about that.

Our office is diverse enough, we represent America. And because of that, we make our bosses' jobs actually challenging, we make his job hard because he's got to pick some of us and I think all of us are ready trained and capable of making this mission a success, but then I think the fact that our leadership recognizes the past and how maybe it wasn't equitable, that we can do something about that now in the astronaut office that we have today looks like America. So it's easy to do.

But the fact that our leadership recognizes that they have a role in it as well to make sure that it happens and to support and encourage the continued dialogue about that I think is really important. So it is encouraging, and I think all people should feel supported by this effort.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Does the reality that you may be someone who charts some kind of historic milestone for humanity, is it something that seeps into your mind often while you're going through training or while you're talking to the media? Or while you're doing this or does it have a special place in your mind to prepare for this?”

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

No. I think those kind of things can distract you. I’m an operator. I love this, the business, the hands on, the highs, teamwork and the mission. I love having a great crew to work with.

You know, there was a lot of talk about that from my mission to ISS and I didn't focus on that. I kept my head down and just did the work. And so but again, I do think it's important you know, there are little kids out there that look up to us and say I want to do that. But more important is that inspiration drives decisions, right? It drives behavior.

And so some little kid’s going, 'I want to be like that and I'm going to study this and I'm going to eat my vegetables and I'm going to be a good person.' And that to me is valuable. No matter what those kids look like, people keep asking me, is it meaningful to you that little Black kids look up to you and say they want to be like you? You know what?

Let's be honest, I represent America. I'm a naval officer and I work for NASA. I represent America and little white kids, little Mexican kids, little Hispanic kids, and little Iranian kids follow what we're doing because this is maybe one of the most recognizable symbols in the universe. And I think that that's really important and I take that very seriously.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Is there anything you can do mentally to prepare for a mission to the moon? I mean, nobody in the program right now has ever been there before. There isn't like relative experience you can go to unless you're talking to an Apollo astronaut to help prepare you for what it's going to be like to reach the surface of the moon.

How do you get ready and how do you do this because it’s not been done in 50 years?”

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

There's going to be a great training program. We've got a great team of people that are thinking about how to train astronauts for this mission. One of the primary things all astronauts have to do though is integrate all of that and then take it into space and know how space is different than what you do on the ground. There's going to always be that no matter where you go lower earth orbit or beyond, on the moon or on to Mars.

But I think personally, I'm a little bit more of a philosophical astronaut I would say and I think it's important for us also to recognize when you go do something like this, to not just know there are unknowns but to embrace it. You are not prepared, you're not as prepared as you can be if you don't expect something to catch you off guard. And so knowing that it's going to happen, you're going to be able to process those emotions faster and instead of going, 'Oh my God is this really happening?' You're going to go, 'Yeah God, thanks for the preparation' and you're going to do the next right thing.

And so knowing that you're going to a place not many human beings have been, I think is an important part of preparing for something like flying Artemis II or Artemis III to the moon.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Do you think the general public is invested, educated and excited about this mission as they might have been for Apollo?

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

[H]opefully the public is following that closely to know this is not a walk in the park. There's a lot about this mission that could go wrong, and that's going to help us to send people back to the moon. And so I think part of that falls on us to do that advocacy.

KANE FARABAUGH:

You're a military aviator…

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

Yes, sir.

KANE FARABAUGH:

This will be automated. This is going to be more automated than any other spacecraft in history. You know, in Apollo, they had switches and knobs. Here, people on the ground will be controlling a lot of the flight maneuvers in the path of the spacecraft. As somebody who has that background, how do you feel about that automation?

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

There are regimes of flight where we can have full manual control and there are regimes of flight where we would have a blended, some sharing between manual inputs and automation. And so there's a scale, a range of sharing of that responsibility. And I think that that's the state of the practice, right? The state of the art is maybe one day going to be, who knows, it's controlled by thoughts and folks on the ground but that's the state of the practice. And so, software has gotten much better. Hardware has gotten a whole lot better, our manufacturing capability, and so I think that's progress.

And yes, as somebody who likes to have a stick and throttle, you know, I want to go up there and do aileron rolls in the thing, but the maneuvers it's going to do are so complicated that for me to have manual control throughout the entire regime of flight actually adds risk that that we aren't necessarily trying to buy off on.

So we want manual control where it really matters, things like docking, things like landing on the surface, and enduring entry to make sure that we have the ability to steer to a safe location to get us back down to Earth safe.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Knowing where you're at now, knowing what you might have the opportunity to do, what would you say to 12-year-old Victor Glover?

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

Oh wow. Oh boy. That's a great question. Twelve-year-old Victor Glover didn't even know if college was a reality, you know, and just, no one in my family had graduated from college, and so there's a lot to this iceberg, and I'll save you the long story and I'll just answer your question. What I would say to 12-year-old me is, ‘It's going to be OK. It's going to be OK. You're going to be OK, but it's going to be OK because you're going to work so hard.’ And so, that's what I would say to myself. You know, this will take care of itself. Getting to this point and the amazingness of this, the awe of it all, it will take care of itself. You know, I wouldn't spoil the surprise.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Victor, man or people have not landed on the moon in our lifetime. That's about to change. Do you think we will get to Mars in our lifetime?

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

Oh, I think we will get to Mars in our lifetime. I said it a little while ago. This is a relay race. The journey to Mars has been 25 years away since we went to the moon back in the Apollo program. This is the first leg of the race to Mars. And so it's been 25 years ahead of us because we haven't started the race. When this is successful, we will have finished the first leg of that race, and we'll be that much closer. I think it will happen in our lifetime. I think I may be too old to be on that crew, but to all those kids out there, be your best self. Listen to your mom and dad, say please and thank you and eat your vegetables and exercise, because those young kids are going to be the people that have a chance to put feet on Mars.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Victor, thanks for joining us and good luck God speed.

Victor Glover, NASA Astronaut:

Thanks Kane!

KANE FARABAUGH:

As NASA’s Artemis 1 mission begins a new era of spaceflight, the work for future missions is already underway, thanks to the efforts of hundreds of companies employing thousands of workers around the globe to manufacture and assemble NASA’s next generation spacecraft, Orion.

Few people who live on this quiet residential street in Illinois know that the address at the end of their block is where the future of human spaceflight is under construction.

Piergiorgio Assandri, Chief Innovation Officer, Ingersoll Machine Tool:

You wouldn’t say that Rockford is one of the key cities for space, aerospace, and defense and especially Ingersoll, so many people might not know.

KANE FARABAUGH:

But behind the walls of Ingersoll Machine tools work is underway to create critical components for NASA’s effort to take humans back to the moon, and eventually on to Mars.

Rex Walheim, Retired Astronaut, NASA:

This is the barrel section of the Orion, so this is the central section of the pressure vessel. It’s where the astronauts will basically live and work and the only place they’ll have to go while they’re on this mission. It’s what keeps us alive.

KANE FARABAUGH:

The “barrel” is one of four components created by Ingersoll for the Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis program.

Astronaut Rex Walheim will watch from Earth as the equipment is launched into orbit.

He made history as part of the last Space Shuttle crew in 2011 and worked as NASA’s astronaut representative to the Orion program.

Rex Walheim, Retired Astronaut, NASA:

I’m one of the astronauts who interact with the Orion program to make sure they are taking account of the things we need as astronauts, everything from habitability to safety aspects.

Mark Kirasich, Deputy Associate Administrator for Artemis Campaign Development:

NASA’s focus is now the harder, more difficult destinations.

KANE FARABAUGH:

NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Artemis Campaign Development Mark Kirasich says the recent boom of commercial space companies allows NASA to focus on those more difficult destinations such as the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Mark Kirasich, Deputy Associate Administrator for Artemis Campaign Development:

Space X, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, Boeing, the people manufacturing commercial spacecraft … ATK Orbital… they are working for a different mission, a different market if you will and they are doing a great job. We’re able to fly quicker and cheaper to low Earth orbit for what I would call simpler destinations.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Focusing on faraway destinations for the Artemis mission has spawned new work for thousands beyond Florida’s Space Coast.

Mark Kirasich, Deputy Associate Administrator for Artemis Campaign Development:

The parts for the spacecraft they come from all over the country. We employ thousands of people at over 900 suppliers like Ingersoll here across the country. We also have 10 European countries that participate under the umbrella of the European Space Agency that manufacture components for Orion.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Components made during VOA’s visit to Ingersoll Machine Tools is part of the Orion capsule scheduled to launch in the Artemis 2 mission taking up to four astronauts about 40,000 miles beyond the moon during a flight currently scheduled for 2024.

NASA last crewed lunar missions to moon last occurred before Ingersoll’s Director of Innovation Piergiorgio Assandri was born in Italy. But it made a big impact on his family, and led him to the move from Italy, his birthplace, to the United States.

Piergiorgio Assandri, Chief Innovation Officer, Ingersoll Machine Tool:

And it was anyway, during my childhood, a big topic to discuss. And for me, made the difference, to be in that nation, and be now a citizen of that nation and participate in a program that will bring back people to the moon.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Ingersoll is one of many companies supplying components to Lockheed Martin, which won the overall contract to create and assemble NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

Assembling other pieces of the Orion capsules happens near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, at Lockheed Martin’s new Star Center near Titusville, Florida, a former home of Space Camp and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Kelly DeFazio, Orion Site Director, Lockheed Martin:

This particular center here was an 18 month $20-million-dollar investment by Lockheed Martin and that is helping to expand the manufacturing footprint for the Space Coast and allowing us to increase throughput overtime to support the lunar mission.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Kelly DeFazio oversees the work at Star Center.

Kelly DeFazio, Orion Site Director, Lockheed Martin:

We do the sub-assemblies here that feed into that flow, and it ranges anywhere from the wire harness assembly system…

KANE FARABAUGH:

This is basically the nervous system so to speak of the capsule?

Kelly DeFazio, Orion Site Director, Lockheed Martin:

Yes, these would all be… if you would walk by Artemis 1 you wouldn’t see this here.

The team here basically takes what we call over there those one strand of wire, runs it out, and you can see how many different wires go into one little connector or one little harness. It’s a lot of hard and meticulous work the team does here and has done for a long time.

KANE FARABAUGH:

I’m sure there is literally miles of this stuff in there?

Kelly DeFazio, Orion Site Director, Lockheed Martin:

Yes. We also have different elements of our thermal protection system - the TPS system is made up of radiation blankets, thermal blankets all the way to pillows for the astronauts.

KANE FARABAUGH:

The flurry of activity at Star Center is geared toward multiple missions.

Kelly DeFazio, Orion Site Director, Lockheed Martin:

Artemis 3 hardware will start building up here in the next few weeks in addition to the cables you saw feeding into Artemis 2 we also have the side hatch here and we’re applying the TPS and that side hatch for Artemis 2 as well so that launch is in 2024.

This is the panel that actually covers just adjacent aside the hatch so the side hatch would be right here where the white foam is.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Beset by delays and cost overruns, NASA estimates that when the Artemis 2 crew orbits the moon in 2024, Orion capsule costs alone will top $13 billion.

Overcoming delays and setbacks to get Orion off the drawing board and on top of the new SLS rocket system that propels it into space has taken longer than astronaut Rex Waldheim and others had hoped for.

Rex Walheim, Retired Astronaut, NASA:

Everybody wanted to do this faster, and everybody wanted the gap between our shuttle and deep space program to be shorter, but we are where we are, and we’ve made tremendous progress.

KANE FARABAUGH:

But not enough progress to allow Waldheim to fly in an Orion capsule. He was not selected to join the class of astronauts scheduled for the Artemis missions, and retired from NASA in 2020. But he remains proud of his part in the effort to send people back to the moon… and beyond.

Rex Walheim, Retired Astronaut, NASA:

To be a part of the program that is sending humans farther than they have ever gone in the history of the Earth is just amazing and I’m glad to be a part of it… any part I can be.

Kelly DeFazio, Orion Site Director, Lockheed Martin:

We are going to take humans farther than we have ever gone before. So the platform is laid, the energy is high, and I think the launch of Artemis 1 is going to ramp it up that much further.

KANE FARABAUGH:

Thanks for joining us on the Inside Story.

You can connect with us on Instagram and Facebook @voanews.

You can also visit our website at any time at voanews.com.

I’m Kane Farabaugh, and we’ll see you next week on The Inside Story.

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