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Science & Technology

Planet Money Goes To Space

Space is easier to get to than ever and it will change life on earth. Private companies are pouring billions of dollars into tiny satellites, new rockets, and gathering information on earth from above. To see how it all works, we are getting in on the action ourselves.

We adopt an adorable satellite, go rocket shopping, and try to figure out how to turn our little piece of the new space race into a profit.

Scroll down for our audio episodes, photos from our satellite, and to see where it is right this exact minute.

Episode 1

Episode 1: We're Going To Space

We try to find a satellite of our very own. Along the way, we visit a small spacecraft showcase, meet the inventor of cube satellites, and find an aptly named partner with satellites to spare.

Stacey Vanek Smith and Robert Smith with a model satellite.
/ Robert Smith/NPR
/

Episode 2

Episode 2: Wait, Why Are We Going To Space?

We have our satellite, but we still need a mission. This is pretty much the same fix a whole bunch of businesses are in. So, we go talk to some spies for ideas.

Episode 3: Rocket Shopping

A rocket from Rocket Lab in New Zealand
/ Robert Smith/NPR
/
A rocket from Rocket Lab in New Zealand

Episode 3

To get our little satellite into orbit, we consult a rocket broker and have to decide between the safer, more reliable model, or "the new hotness," a new kind of rocket company looking to become the UPS for space deliveries.

Episode 4: Liftoff

Veni, vidi, vici.
/ Courtesy Orbital ATK.
/
Veni, vidi, vici.

In which we behold one of the true marvels of human achievement and assess the dangers of space junk. It gets tense.

See What Pod-1 Sees

Selemdzhinsky District, Amur Oblast, Russia as seen from Pod-1
/ Planet
/
Selemdzhinsky District, Amur Oblast, Russia as seen from Pod-1

Unsong-ri, Hwangju County, Hwanghaebuk-do, North Korea as seen from Pod-1
/ Planet
/
Unsong-ri, Hwangju County, Hwanghaebuk-do, North Korea as seen from Pod-1

Unsong-ri, Hwangju County, Hwanghaebuk-do, North Korea as seen from Pod-1
/ Planet
/
Unsong-ri, Hwangju County, Hwanghaebuk-do, North Korea as seen from Pod-1

Our humble, little satellite has started to see the earth from above.

To see where our humble little satellite is at any time, check the Satview tracker.

For more images from all along our space journey, follow Planet Money on Instagram (and scroll back to early-December 2017).

For full details on the Planet Money Mission Patch, go here.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.