MAE Professors launch Spaceflight Mechanics podcast

Three-part image with a close-up of Mason Peck on the left, a red square in the middle with the words Space Flight Mechanics, and a close-up of Elaine Petro on the right

Elaine Petro and Mason Peck didn’t want to start a podcast—they simply wanted to start a kind-of seminar series. It would feature experts on all aspects of spaceflight technology talking about what they do in a way that wasn’t oversimplified. And rather than presenting a scripted talk, the series would be more like a conversation between Petro, Peck, and a guest.

Peck and Petro know a fair bit about spaceflight technology themselves, so they would be right up there onstage asking questions, digging into the details, and creating a place where interested people could truly learn things about all aspects of spaceflight.

Each time they would describe their idea for the series, the person listening would nod along excitedly and then respond with some version of the comment, “Oh, you mean like a podcast?”

They heard this answer so often that eventually they gave up on thinking of their idea as a seminar and went all in on a podcast idea. They got microphones, found studio space, lined up some guests, hired a producer, and got to work.

The resulting podcast, “Spaceflight Mechanics: The Cornell Space Technology Podcast” launched officially on Monday, November 27 on the Buzzsprout platform. It will soon be available on all the popular podcast sources.

To celebrate the launch of “Spaceflight Mechanics” Peck, Petro, and their producer Claire Peck were joined by two of the podcast’s first guests for a launch/listening party in the Upson Lounge on the day of the first episode’s release. Peck, who is the Stephen J. Fujikawa Professor of Astronautical Engineering, and Elaine Petro, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell, were joined onstage by Sibley School Assistant Professor Gregory Falco and Associate Professor Dmitry Savransky.

What followed was an entertaining half hour that featured Peck and Petro recounting the genesis of the podcast, Savransky and Falco discussing their experiences as guests on the show, amusing outtakes that will not make it to air, and some questions from the students, faculty, and staff in the audience.

In response to one question about what brought each of the four researchers to the study of space, Savransky summed it up nicely for everyone: “Space is awesome,” he said. “It is objectively cool. I challenge anyone in this audience to walk up to that microphone and say that space isn’t cool. They would be wrong.”

Petro and Peck are confident that many people share this feeling and will tune in to “Spaceflight Mechanics” to join their deep dive into a fascinating realm. Future episodes in this initial season will feature experts in space cybersecurity, nuclear propulsion researchers, at least one CEO of a space startup, and other innovators. The hosts have already started contacting experts in the field to be guests for Season Two.

Listen to Episode One, “We Untwinkle Stars” with Dmitry Savransky

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