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How To Lose $50m in 50 Seconds

How To Lose $50m in 50 Seconds

Update: 2021-05-19


When you are bound for the moon, there are thousands of “gee, glad we tested this” moments during any and all stages of space flight. If not, you’ve got some trouble. From NASA’s early days to the modern era, space exploration has led to some of the most spectacular and public test failures. This week, the episode focuses on NASA’s rocket test of the mid 20th century, including a few of NASA’s big wins in history, and biggest losses. We also discuss the importance behind Sputnik’s launch, new recent developments in private space travel, and why the inclusiveness of who we send to space is still very much a big issue. To help us, we welcome Amy Shira Teitel, author, space flight historian, and host of the YouTube series “The Vintage Space.” 


Learn More About: 

  • Failure in testing is often called a failure of imagination. Learn how this is the case with the Apollo 13 and 11 missions. 
  • Engineers have had to get creative during space exploration - but using duct tape, a plastic bag, and cardboard to save lives might be one of the most prime examples of thinking quickly and adapting to meet the needs of the situation presently at hand.
  • The Apollo 11 was on a descent to the moon in 1969 when a fuel light blinked on and signaled that The Eagle’s Tank was nearly dry. How did testing and quick thinking play a role in this historical event? 
  • Eight windows failed tests during the course of the Apollo program, but none during missions. This is why space engineers must test, test again, and test repeatedly after that. 
  • Space exploration is a by-product of the Cold War. 
  • Sputnik was about the size of a microwave oven but struck fear and awe in Americans. Learn how the Space Race was on, and how America reacted to a closely guarded Soviet space program.
  • As if the challenge of physics and engineering weren’t enough, another barrier to human space flight was human prejudice. Just days before the mission, NASA canceled the women flight crew in 1961. Two decades would pass before Sally Ride would become the first woman to fly in space. 
  • Who were exactly the First Lady Astronaut Trainees, or the Mercury 13, and why is it so important to honor them to acknowledge NASA’s push for inclusion in space and the progress we have made so far. 
  • The future of space exploration and tourism within private sectors, such as SpaceX and Firefly. 


Resources Mentioned: 


Johnson Space Center

Amy Shira Teitel 


Mercury 7 




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How To Lose $50m in 50 Seconds

How To Lose $50m in 50 Seconds