garrett reisman joe rogan

What it’s Like Living in Space and Working with Elon Musk – Garrett Reisman on The Joe Rogan Experience #1425

Key Takeaways

  • Elaborating on what it’s like to see Earth from space, Garrett says, when you look down, you tend to realize “we’re all in the same boat”
    • “I think the things that unite us are so much stronger and more important than the crazy little things that divide us—race, sex, nationality, politics, or whateverAt the end of the day, we all have one home, and we’re all stuck here together.”Garrett Reisman
  • As long as humans don’t kill each other or Earth doesn’t get hit by an asteroid: “We’re going to end up living in space”Garrett Reisman
  • Garrett believes humans will travel to Mars this decade
    • Fact: It takes ~6 months to get to Mars, and once there, you have to wait two years for the planets to realign to make the trip back to Earth
  • The trash in space moves at 10 kilometers per second, or about 10 times as fast as a rifle bullet (even if a fleck of paint hit you, it’d put a hole in your spacesuit)

Intro

Garrett Elaborates on His Time in Space

  • Garrett once lived in space for 95 days (the longest time spent in space by an American is 365 days)
    • Once you return to Earth, everything feels much heavier at first (because of Earth’s gravity)
  • What used to be the case: Astronauts lost about 1% of their bone mass, mostly in their legs, for every month spent in space
    • To prevent this, NASA developed a resistance exercise machine that acts as a countermeasure, helping astronauts to maintain muscle and bone mass (although very frequent, daily exercise is necessary)
  • While in space, your heart pumps more blood to your head than on Earth, resulting in swelling, causing you to lose much of your sense of smell/taste
    • Fun fact: Garrett’s space station has a wide variety of hot sauces because, without hot sauce, everything tastes bland
  • The food in space is terrible! You basically have two options: MREs (Meals-Ready-to-Eat) or Russian military food 
    • The Russian food tastes slightly better, but looks like dog food
  • Garrett got to do three different spacewalks (one spacewalk can last up to 7.5 hours)
    • A spacewalk isn’t really a walk; you’re using your hands to move around and perform maintenance work on the space station
      • (The space station is moving at ~17,500 MPH, and so are you)
    • What if you have to use the bathroom while on a spacewalk? Thank God for diapers!
  • It takes about a year to get your body reaccustomed to life on Earth; Garrett compares it to rehabbing from a major sports injury
  • It takes 90 minutes to go around the Earth while on the space station
    • The temperature difference, depending on whether you’re in the sun or shade, can be up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit 
      • Because of the huge changes in temperature, space station materials can change size (when they expand and contract), and cause problems

One Earth, One Species

  • How does Garrett describe seeing the Earth from space?
    • “Meh.” He elaborates:
      • Camera technology has become so advanced that it’s now possible for anyone with an internet connection to watch a live feed view of Earth from the space station
      • “It was beautiful, but it was underwhelming. I guess my expectations were so high that I felt as if there should be some heavenly choir, and that we should all hold hands and sing kumbaya.” Garrett Reisman
  • When you look down and see Earth, you tend to realize “we’re all in the same boat”
    • “I think the things that unite us are so much stronger and more important than the crazy little things that divide us—race, sex, nationality, politics, or whatever”Garrett Reisman
      • “At the end of the day, we all have one home, and we’re all stuck here together”

Garrett Elaborates on His Time Spent Living 60-Feet Below the Surface of the Atlantic Ocean for 2 Weeks

  • (He lived in a “submarine-like station”)
  • When you spend that much time deep below the ocean’s surface, an excess amount of nitrogen is built up in your blood (so much, in fact, that if you rushed up to the surface, you’d die)—it takes about a day to depressurize 
    • Think of it like a can of soda: If you shake it and open up the top quickly, it explodes. But, if you open it up really slowly, you don’t get all the bubbles.
  • Garrett says the experience was similar to the movie, The Abyss
  • Living in the ocean wasn’t as surreal as living in space, but it was still a wild experience:
    • One day, Garrett looked out the window of the station and saw a 6-foot hammerhead shark while one of his crew members was out in the water
    • To use the bathroom, you had to swim 10-15 feet out from the station. The problem (besides the inconvenience)? Fish frequently tried to eat your poop (while you were still pooping).
      • One night after Garrett finished his “duties,” he looked up and saw a giant goliath grouper about the size of a cow!
        • “It scared the living hell out of me” – Garrett Reisman

Working for NASA and SpaceX

  • Garrett left NASA in 2011 and went on to work at SpaceX as their Director of Space Operations for seven years
    • Garrett is currently a full-time professor at USC, but still works as a consultant for SpaceX 
    • (SpaceX and NASA work together in a private-public partnership. SpaceX gets to keep all of its intellectual property, allowing them to build as many rockets as they wish.)

Traveling to Mars & Living in Space

  • “We’re going to look back at 2020 as the year that everything changed”Garrett Reisman
    • With the advancements in rocket technology and innovative solutions of private space companies, the commercial infrastructure to start exploring space and planets is beginning to develop
    • As long as humans don’t kill each other or the Earth doesn’t get hit by an asteroid:We’re going to end up living in space” 
  • Garrett believes humans will travel to Mars this decade
    • Fact: It takes ~6 months to get to Mars, and once there, you have to wait two years for the planets to realign to make the trip back to Earth
    • Two of the biggest issues we’ll face on the journey to Mars: Radiation and solar flares

Innovation at SpaceX

  • Rockets still aren’t 100% reusable, but Garrett believes the SpaceX Starship will be
  • Another possible leap forward in space travel: using a nuclear reactor as fuel (this would allow for more thurst with a much smaller gas tank than currently used by rockets today)
  • SpaceX is experimenting with using liquid methane as fuel
    • Why? It’s possible to make liquid methane on Mars, so you wouldn’t need to carry as much fuel to get to there and back as you would with a traditional rocket

Becoming A Multi-Planetary Species (Life on Mars)

  • Elon Musk wants to die on Mars, just not on impact
    • “He’s serious about that” Garrett Reisman
  • Living on Mars would be possible, but only under a pressurized dome compartment
    • Although, even with a spacesuit, you’d still have to worry about radiation
  • The gravity on Mars is about a third of that on Earth
    • For comparison, gravity on the Moon is about one-sixth of that on Earth
  • Want an accurate depiction of life on Mars? Watch The Martian
  • Our solar system will last for a few more billion years, but eventually, if humans want to continue living, we’ll have to find new planets to colonate

Working with Elon Musk, What Has Garrett Learned About Him?

  • Garrett says that every SpaceX-related decision Elon makes is based on one thing: whether or not it brings the day we have a self-sustainable colony on Mars closer
  • Garrett describes Elon as the most-driven person he’s ever met
  • If you ask Elon a serious question, he’ll go into deep thought about his answer
    • “He’s like focusing all of his intellect, which is considerable, on this one question” – Garrett Reisman
  • It’s essential to Elon that he leaves a legacy—one in which he drastically impacts human life in a positive manner
  • Elon is smart in multiple areas—he’s able to have conversations with SpaceX’s top software engineers, and then go talk with their manufacturing engineers, all without missing a beat
    • He’s also an incredibly hard worker—he regularly works 16-hour days
  • Elon created Tesla as a ‘Plan A’ for saving life on Earth. If Tesla fails, SpaceX is ‘Plan B’ (i.e., continuing life on Mars).

Space Trash is A Serious Issue 

  • There’s a ton of junk in space
    • “It’s a big problem”Garrett Reisman
    • Fortunately, over time, it’ll likely enter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up
  • “The most important thing is not to make any more junk—that’s the best thing we can do” – Garrett Reisman
    • For instance, SpaceX puts extra gas in its engines to help bring back its rocket stages to Earth in one piece (instead of blowing them up and creating tons of debris)
  • The trash in space moves at 10 kilometers per second, or about 10 times as fast as a rifle bullet (even if a fleck of paint hit you, it’d put a hole in your spacesuit)

Additional Notes

  • Only about 500 people have ever been to space
  • Garrett is a fan of the space TV show, The Expanse
  • For the most part, astronauts suits are one-size-fits-all because it’s so expensive to make build them
  • To train for space, astronauts spend a ton of time in NASA’s massive Houston pool—it’s 200-feet long, 100-feet wide, and 60-feet deep
  • This year, the SpaceX Dragon and Boeing Starliner will launch people into space
  • Why do rockets launch near the ocean?
    • Simply because, if any parts of it come flying off, they’ll land in the water instead of on someone’s home
    • China and Russia, however, don’t always follow this rule—Chinese rocket boosters have landed in villages and exploded  
  • Garrett is working as a technical consultant for the Apple TV+ show, For All Mankind
    • While in space, Garrett had a Skype session with the show’s creator, Ron Moore
  • Battlestar Galactica is Garrett and Joe’s favorite sci-fi TV show
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Notes By Alex Wiec

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