TRANSCRIPT Oh No, Ross and Carrie!: Ep. 224: Ross and Carrie Meet Terry and Jannicke: Orbital Edition

Podcast: Oh No, Ross and Carrie!

Episode number: 224

Guests: Jannicke Mikkelsen Terry Virts

Transcript

music

“Oh No, Ross and Carrie! Theme Song” by Brian Keith Dalton. A jaunty, upbeat instrumental.

carrie poppy

Hello, welcome to Oh No, Ross and Carrie!, the show where we don’t just report on fringe science, spirituality, and claims of the paranormal; no, tut, tut, tut, we take part ourselves.

ross blocher

That’s right; when they make the claims, we show up so you don’t have to. I’m Ross Blocher.

carrie

And I’m Carrie Poppy. And today, boy, we have some—dare I say—out of this world guests.

terry virts

That was bad.

ross

Literally true. [Carrie laughs.] So 565 people have been to outer space as of this moment, and we have one of them in the room here. Colonel Terry Virts, welcome to Oh No, Ross and Carrie!

terry

Yeah, it’s great to be here. I think the first phenomenon should be deja vu, ‘cause I’m like, have I done this before? [Everyone laughs.]

carrie

That’s wild.

ross

Sounds familiar. Well, we’ve talked before—

terry

Yes, at Disney.

ross

—a previous life, yes. But we have another amazing guest with us today, and I’ll describe her quickly as just someone—if you have an impossible technical feat that needs to be done, you give it to Jannicke Mikkelsen. She is here today. Welcome, Jannicke, to Oh No, Ross and Carrie!

jannicke mikkelsen

Thank you so much, Ross and Carrie! I’m a big fan of the podcast, so it’s quite an honor for me to be here today.

carrie

Oh, I didn’t know that! Oh, thank you so much!

ross

The honor is ours. Thank you for coming today. So, I first met Jannicke when you had directed a live 3D panoramic 360 degree Queen concert with this—not jury-rigged, Jannicke-rigged—collection of GoPro cameras suspended from wires with crazy choreography. Is any of that right? Did I get that right?

carrie

She’s laughing silently. [Jannicke laughs audibly.]

ross

It was this amazing thing that no one should be able to do, and you did it.

jannicke

The brief from the band, from Queen, was that they wanted a 3d, 360 movie that flew around the arena, the concert arena, as if it was a space ship.

ross

‘Cause famed guitarist Brian May is a big advocate and fan of stereography and, you know, those kids of technologies and photography. So he wanted to bring you into do this, right?

jannicke

Well, the point was that they wanted 360 because they wanted to include their fans. The only reason why they tour now that they’re over 70 is because the fans demand it. So they wanted to give something back to the fans, and the 360 show shows the fans and the concert. Of course, Brian May, being the stereoscopic collector and a historian, and specializing in Victorian stereoscopic photography and also astrophotography—

ross

Right, he leads the London Stereoscopic Company, if anyone’s interested in learning more.

jannicke

Correct. So he wanted a whole concert in 3D, yeah.

ross

But I met you, again, when you collaborated with Terry on the One More Orbit project, so we’ll want to talk about that, too. Uh, but first, just to give a little more preface on Terry. You’ve flown—

terry

Uh, two missions. One was a two week space shuttle flight, and then one was a 200 day Soyuz flight.

ross

Wow. Amazing. So how much time have you spent in space?

terry

A little over seven months.

ross

Wow.

terry

It was seven months. It’s quite awhile.

ross

And you were up on the International Space Station. How fast is it going?

terry

17,500 miles an hour.

ross

That’s amazing. Just to essentially stay at orbit, right?

terry

Right, ‘cause basically what you’re doing is falling. [Ross and Carrie respond affirmatively.] ‘Cause there’s gravity. You’re not in zero G, there’s gravity up there. So as you fall, you move forward at five miles a second, or eight kilometers a second, and that speed, if you’re at the right speed, will be the same shape as the Earth. So that’s basically what an orbit is.

ross

So just perfectly counteracts the falling, so you end up floating. [Terry responds ‘correct’ and ‘yup’ while Ross speaks.] That’s a wild thought. Falling for nine months. Seven months?

crosstalk

T**erry and Ross in unison:** Falling for a long time. [Both laugh.]

carrie

While you’re doing that kind of work, what are you thinking of as like, the purpose of your day to day up there? Are you there to collect evidence? Are you there to educate? Are you there to further exploration?

terry

Yeah, so the first flight I did, the shuttle flight, I was the pilot, and our job was to deliver the last modules on the space station. So we brought up something called Node 3, which is a big living room, and something called the cupula, which is this awesome seven-windowed observatory.

ross

Oh, you brought that up there.

terry

I did. I installed it, yeah. And then that was like the end of the assembly sequence, so it took over a decade to build this massive million-pound spaceship. And then a few years later, I went back and ended up staying 200 days, and I was the commander. And then I did everything. We did science, and unpacked cargo ships, and I did space walks, and I was the crew doctor, and I kinda did a little bit of everything.

ross

So cool.

carrie

Do you have to keep a particular focus in mind? Like, “I’m doing this for all of humanity,” or is it just so fun that you kind of don’t have to have that?

terry

Well, I think 99% of it is work. I mean, they have the schedule for you. It’s kind of like Outlook, only it’s down to the minute. And there’s a red line, and that red line moves, and it was moving for seven months. And, you know, as soon as you’re done with one box, you right-click on it, click complete, and then the next box is there, and so you move on to the next procedure.

ross

Is there any leeway, if you get sick or something like that, to move your schedule around?

terry

They—some of the procedures are flexible. Some of them have to be done on time. So, I pretty much always did things on time, just to keep it simple. Some guys like to be flexible and, “Hey, can I move this around?” But for me, I just did what they told me when they told me to do it.

jannicke

But Terry sometimes compares himself to like, the cable guy. When he goes outside in space, with like, an EVA.

terry

That’s what we did. We laid the most cables ever. We laid like 400 feet of cable on two of our three space walks, because eventually Boeing and SpaceX are going to be sending capsules there. This was back in 2014 when we were like, oh Boeing and SpaceX are sending capsules. Now it’s 2019. But hopefully next year they’ll do it, and when they do they’ll need power and data. So I laid the cable for those capsules coming up hopefully next year.

ross

Amazing. And speaking of going outside the ship and being the cable guy, if I recall, you told a story about practicing coming out of the ship and jumping across to grab onto a fixture.

terry

Yes. Yeah. So, you go out of the airlock, there’s this big batch. You check your buddy over, make sure every—his suit’s good, your suit’s good, and then you crawl, using your hands, you crawl to your worksite. [Ross and Carrie both respond affirmatively while Terry speaks.] So, there’s a storage area a few feet away, it’s called ESP-2, theres a bunch of space components on there. And you can reach like, the whole wingspan of me. If I outstretch both arms, I can go from the airlock and grab onto this thing and then go. It’s a shortcut. If you don’t do that, you’ve got to crawl an extra 30 feet, and it takes a couple minutes. And you want to save every second you can. So in the pool for practice, I would always reach over and grab this module and go, and that would save me three minutes of time.

ross

You said the pool. So, underwater.

terry

Underwater for training in Houston. We practiced spacewalking in a pool, so that you’re in this 400 pound spacesuit, it’s a way to float.

ross

It’s like, “No big deal, I can let go of the station for a second to go grab this ESP.”

terry

Well, I would never let go, really. [Everyone chuckles.] But it was like the full length of my—

carrie

Yeah, there’s a David Bowie song about what happens there. [Ross laughs.]

terry

Yeah, exactly. The short-armed astronauts can’t do that. They always have to do it. But mine was just barely, so I go out on my first spacewalk. I go out, I check my crewmate over, you’re good, helmet’s good, equipment’s good. And I reached over and I stopped immediately and I just crawled. I kept both hands on the station. I’m like, “I’m not gonna do this.” [Everyone bursts out laughing.]

ross

Suddenly not worth it.

terry

You realize the magnitude of the situation. Yeah.

jannicke

What does the Earth look like underneath you, Terry?

terry

That was sort of the first thing, except for, before I did the first thing, the very first thing I did, I went out the hatch—and it was nighttime thankfully, so I couldn’t see anything—but I—some astronauts had gotten really dizzy by seeing the Earth. So, I took a tether. They have these like, short couple feet tethers. You can clip them to the station and then you can let go, and you’ll only float a few feet. So I put the clip down on the hatch and I let go. [Everyone responds with shock and amazement.] The very first thing I did as soon as I got outside is I let go. And I looked down at the Earth and I went, “Alright, I’m fine. I’m not gonna fall.” I just wanted to mentally convince my brain that it’s all good, I’m not gonna fall. But it looks ama—like, to see the Earth, you just can’t imagine it. Like, you’ve got a book there that’s—

carrie

Yes, I do. I wrote this.

terry

Yeah, it’s a nice book.

carrie

No, you wrote this.

ross

Now, I was gonna say, for our flat Earth friends—we’ve spent some time with them—they would say, “Well these are lies, and you’re making all this up. Show us photos to prove it.” Uh, you’ve taken photos, haven’t you?

terry

[Laughing] Jannicke had a funny idea a couple years ago. Somebody wanted to raise—some rapper wanted to raise money to launch a satellite.

ross

B.o.B. [Carrie responds affirmatively.]

terry

Yeah. And I was like, “Hey, what’s your address? I’ll send you a copy of my book.” [Carrie laughs.] “You know, I’ve seen the Earth, it’s round. If the Earth was flat, I’d still be going eastbound at 17,000 miles an hour. Thankfully it’s round, and I came around and came back and landed.”

jannicke

Yeah, Terry’s like, “Hey, I can save you a bunch of money.”

ross

To fake these photos would take so much work and skill and craft, and I’ve worked with a film crew trying to generate one of these realistic plants—

terry

How easy is it to hide anything today? Nobody is capable of hiding anything.

ross

The number of people required—

terry

Because of, yeah social media—

ross

—and the time required—

terry

—it’s just not possible.

ross

—and why would you make a book this thick with photos? You know, you’d make one half the size and be like, “There you go. Good enough.”

carrie

Yeah, we’re looking at like a 300 page book here.

terry

No, but the Earth is so beautiful. It’s awesome. It’s impossible—like those photographs are pretty cool, and we’re doing this right next to an IMAX theater today. And the movies you watch are just gorgeous, like they’re so beautiful, and they don’t even come close to what it’s really like. Like, it takes your breath. It’s such an emotional experience to see the planet. To not be on the planet and look down there and go, “Hey, there’s my planet.”

ross

Yeah. I want to see a really good VR experience that maybe approximates that slightly.

terry

I actually made one, actually, a space walking VR experience.

ross

You did? Oh!

terry

Yeah, with a Canadian—it hasn’t been released yet.

ross

I can’t wait.

terry

It’s really cool. The graphics in it are very good, and you can crawl around and do a spacewalk.

ross

Geek out on photography for half a second. What’s your equipment that you take up there?

terry

So, the basic camera on the station is a Nikon. It was a D4 when I was there, now they have D5’s. It’s just a basic, big Nikon camera that you see when there’s a press conference, or there’s a sporting event, one of those Nikons. We also had a Red Dragon, which is like a Hollywood—at the time—there’s a YouTube video. They did a summary  of the stuff I shot. It was the first ever ultra-high-def, it was really cool. But for the IMAX movie I shot, A Beautiful Planet, we did that on Canon. We had a Canon 1DC, which is, again, watch the—at the World Series tonight, all the photographers, a lot of them are gonna have Canon 1Ds.

carrie

That’s baseball. [Everyone laughs.]

terry

That’s—right, it’s sportsball.

carrie

Just letting the other listeners know.

terry

Yeah, it’s in the fourth inning, and it’s killing me to not be watching it, so.

ross

Oh, no. I’m sorry.

carrie

Thank you.

terry

But I’m being good. At least Scherzer has a lot of pitches on him. Hopefully we’ll get him out the fifth inning. So the Canon 1D is a still camera we shot most of the movie on, and there’s also a Canon C500 which is like, a Hollywood video camera. And we also used a GoPro, and we had a Sony 3D camera, and we had this little camera called a Ghost, which is sort of like a GoPro.

ross

Whole film studio up in space.

terry

It was one of each. We had lots of cameras.

jannicke

This is a problem working with Terry. So, we work on filming projects together, and he’ll just randomly go—’cause it’s a lot of heavy equipment, right? And the lenses are big and the cameras are big and heavy and bulky, and he’s like, “Oh, this is so much easier in space!” [Everyone laughs.]

terry

It’s true. You don’t need all these— [Breaks off, laughing.] There’s a funny video we were watching. Changing lenses. My director of photography had a clip last night he was showing, and it was so awesome. You just hold this big—it’s probably a ten pound lens. It’s a giant piece of glass. You just let it go, take the other lens off the camera and then grab it while it’s floating in front of you and put it on. Takes, you know, ten seconds. On Earth, you’d need—

jannicke

It’s a two person job.

terry

—a camera assistant and a gaffer and a bus boy.

ross

Did you try doing that on the One More Orbit project? Taking a lens off and hoping it would float? [Everyone laughs.]

carrie

I hope not.

terry

They never floated. Yeah.

jannicke

Terry, you have a story about that, coming back to Earth. I think you were drinking some water or something?

terry

Oh, yeah. And my parents were there, and I went to—I said, “Hey, do you want a water bottle?” and I just like, I went to float it to them. [Everyone laughs uproariously.] It floated for like a half a second before—before it hit the ground.

carrie

How long had you been back on Earth when that happened?

terry

Uh, hours. [Ross laughs loudly.]

carrie

Oh, okay.

terry

It was, like, my first day back.

carrie

Yeah so, I mean, your perspective has to shift substantially after being in space. And I’m sure that everything seems a bit smaller here on Earth. Do you have to then sort of convince yourself to like, still take Earthly problems seriously?

terry

Oh, yeah. That’s my mission now, is to focus on Earthly problems. ‘Cause that’s where everybody is. There’s a handful of people in space, and they’re gonna come back to Earth. So everybody that’s ever been and everybody maybe that’s ever gonna be is from here, so we need to take care of the planet. There’s no plan B. And these things seem to be going crazy these days, which these moves toward these dictators and the strong men and you know, everybody’s—this nationalism and stuff. It’s a really problem. Like, that—you can kind of laugh about it. It’s good for the late-night comedians, sort of, except for those lead to wars, you know? So, those are the kind of problems that I want to solve down here on Earth.

ross

And uh, we mentioned the book. We should say the name. View From Above—

terry

That’s right. It’s a cool title.

ross

An Astronaut Photographs The World. Absolutely. Published through National Geographic. Beautiful book.

terry

Thanks.

ross

Carrie’s brought hers to get signed.

carrie

Yes, I have. And also—

terry

I’ll sign anything.

carrie

[Laughs] Great! Sign every page. [Terry laughs.] Also, I wanted to read a little passage from it, if I may. Maybe we can get our listeners to all buy [voice grows strained, presumably while moving] this here book. Okay, so this is from chapter 8, The Human World.

carrie

“Seeing our planet from space, seeing our place in the universe, going out into space during a spacewalk, living and working in weightlessness. These things changed my perspective on life and our place in the universe. This new perspective took me some time to sink in. At first, the continuous wonder of space flight took all my attention, but the longer I spent gazing down at Earth from orbit, the more I began to recognize places I knew. And more than that, the more I began to notice evidence of humanity. From space, there is so much to learn about our place in this world, and the impact we’ve had on it.” And then you talk about how everyone asks you if there are aliens. [Laughs] And uh, you make the point that, if an alien passes over Earth, they might not even know humanity was ever here. And you go on, he—being the alien—”would also be able to see contrails of airplanes, especially over the east coast of America, as well as Europe. He could even see an occasional boat, and especially crowded harbors. The ships waiting to come into port show up as a series of dots, and a busy shipping lane’s wave patterns on the open oceans are visible in the right sun glint. But by and large, there is no immediate tell-tale sign of human activity during the day. This poor alien might just buzz past Earth without even knowing we were down there.”

terry

That’s all true.

ross

That’s good.

jannicke

You wrote that?

terry

I did. It must have been in my sleep. [Carrie laughs.]

ross

It’s beautiful.

carrie

It’s so lovely, yeah.

jannicke

I make fun of Terry, ‘cause he’s such a hardened sort of astronaut and test pilot and fighter pilot, but when he  writes, he changes personality to like, emotions. [Terry laughs.]

terry

I have lots of emotions.

jannicke

I really struggle to get emotions out of him.

terry

I’m very emotional.

carrie

Well, tell us about that. What about—what, is it the process of writing that kind of frees those things?

terry

That’s a good question. I think there’s something about me. A lot of times I’m extroverted, but really I’m an introvert. So being in front of people makes me clam up, and I want to do all these TV shows and movies and, you know, I had a big role in One More Orbit, but I’d really rather just sit by myself. And so I have this weird personality, so sometimes writing things is easier for me to express myself. And I was for sure the least likely to write a book in high school. I mean, I got C’s in English. I constantly apologized to my English teachers whenever I’m doing anything on air, because I’m sorry Miss Mitchell and Miss Hermann— [Everyone laughs.] —but I was a bastard. I was really bad. But—

ross

Well, look who’s a published author now.

carrie

Yeah, Miss Hermann.

terry

Book number two’s coming out next year. [Ross and Carrie both respond enthusiastically.] And I—by the way, I hate to let you in on a secret, but most astronauts don’t write their own book.

ross

Ghost writers.

terry

Yeah. But I wrote everything in there. Well, no, I had an editor that helped me, and she was great. Susan was awesome. But, for the most part yeah, I wrote the whole thing, and then I rewrote the stuff that she told me to rewrite, so. [Ross responds affirmatively.] Um, and the next book was 11,100 words. So it was a lot of words when I turned in the manuscript. But I like writing. I love writing. I love storytelling, and I don’t know why.

ross

So, if that wasn’t all enough, you undertook the One More Orbit project. Can you tell us a bit about that? What’s involved in One More Orbit? What record did you set?

terry

[Ross and Carrie both respond affirmatively several times while Terry speaks.] A lot. We set like, I think 14. Our mutual friend, Hamish Harding, had this idea to set a world record flying around the planet. And he was looking at the types of airplanes and what records we could get, and he wanted to do over the poles. So we flew over the North Pole, South Pole, and back. And we took off and landed from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, same place I took off and landed in the space shuttle, because this year was the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.

jannicke

And 500 years’ anniversary of Magellan as well. [Ross responds enthusiastically.]

terry

Yeah, so it was like bonus, all the way around, and the One More Orbit year. [Laughs.]

jannicke

The One More Orbit year, yeah.

terry

So we flew around the planet faster than anybody ever did.

ross

You were in a Gulfstream?

terry

We were in a Gulfstream business jet, yeah. So we just did a movie about it. I got to direct my first movie, which is awesome, and Jannicke was a big part of it. When we were doing credits, Jannicke’s credits don’t fit on one line, ‘cause she had so many roles in there. [Everyone laughs.] So originally, I asked her to be a photographer—

ross

That does not surprise me.

terry

So I asked her to be one of our—she’s a cinematographer, and I knew I needed that on board, ‘cause I, yeah, I can grab a camera, but I can’t film and be in it and do everything, right? So she was supposed to do that, and then somebody had the idea of, “Let’s live stream this thing.” So, that turned into a massive monster, so she kind of got taken away into that.

jannicke

Well, you know, the problem with live streaming, like everybody hears this podcast via the internet, and our guests and producers and even the people from the airline just assumed, well, there’s wifi on the airplane. [Everyone laughs.]

ross

Yeah, but they don’t usually fly over the Antarctic.

terry

Over the North Pole, right.

jannicke

Exactly! I’m just like, “So, exactly where is this wifi signal coming from?”

ross

Right, this is exactly the sort of problem, like, “Okay, this would need a team of 20 to figure out. Let’s have Jannicke do it.” [Everyone laughs.]

terry

We’re not over the 101. [Ross responds affirmatively several times while Terry speaks.] You know, thankfully we’re moving faster than that.

ross

Tell us the story. How did that happen?

jannicke

So, okay. So we need a few satellites to help us and um, I got in contact with Inmarsat, and Satcom Direct, and they go, “Yeah, this sounds like a really cool project, you know, following you guys around the world. How many satellites do you need?” I was like, “Well—”

terry

All of them.

jannicke

“—How many do you have?” [Everyone laughs uproariously.]

ross

Oh, that’s good negotiation there. I’m not gonna start with a satellite number, you tell me. [Jannicke laughs.] What did they tell you, how many did they have?

jannicke

So, I took all of them. [Everyone laughs.]

ross

Did they have to move any of these satellites for you?

jannicke

Yeah, they had to move them for me as well. It took us a week to move them into position.

carrie

Oh, my gosh. How many was it, total? Do you know?

jannicke

So, um, well there’s four main ones, and then there’s a fifth one that they can maneuver into position that’s too synchronous, and then there’s an additional sat that covers to help us over the North Pole.

ross

That’s wild. And so normally they would have to be performing other functions. Did they have to like, kind of requisition some bandwidth for you?

jannicke

Well, yeah. So the main problem actually is that when you fly over the North Pole and the South Pole is that you don’t have a compass. You can’t use a compass and you can’t use the satellite signal, so that was the main problem. [Everyone responds affirmatively.]

ross

That’s come up in our debates with flat Earthers. They feel that there’s a bunch of hokum happening with flights that supposedly go from like, Australia to the tip of South America. They would say, “Oh, well they pass out GPS. They’re making up their location.”

jannicke

Yeah, well, I mean, in a nutshell. So if I jump back to the first question, was that—yeah, I had to ask them for both the commercial spots and the government spots. The ones that aren’t used for commercial activity. And I also had to ask them to—so, each satellite is consisted of spots that they beam onto the aircraft, and they also gave me this super app where I could like, block other people and keep the satellite juice for myself.

carrie

Oh, wow!

ross

So you need to establish line of sight with the satellite, and then you—

terry

That’s the problem.

jannicke

If you can’t see the satellite, the satellite can’t see you.

ross

Can it see through, I assume, clouds?

jannicke

Not really. We fly above the clouds. If we’re on the ground, it’s hard to get ahold of them.

terry

Ground is a problem. Clouds are okay.

jannicke

Rain is also a problem.

ross

Are you keeping a steady altitude during this whole flight?

terry

Well, we were mostly in the high 40s, but we had to—there’s another story about Antarctica. But we were pretty high up.

ross

So, higher than a commercial flight.

terry

Yeah. But like, if you go through your neighborhood, there’s antennas, and they’re always pointing at the same direction. That’s ‘cause of the satellites, what’s called geosynchronous. It’s over the equator, and it kind of stays in the same point relative to the Earth, so you never have to move your satellite— [Ross and Carrie respond affirmatively.] —in these latitudes. But you go off to the North Pole, you can’t see something orbiting over the equator, so it’s really on the horizon. So as we got closer to the North Pole, the satellite was like, 20 degrees above the horizon, ten degrees above the horizon, and then when we got close to the North and South Pole, it was right on the horizon. So Jannicke was tracking the signal strength, and we ended up—there’s a funny story. CNN Anderson Cooper did an interview with us. You can do satellite phone. There are these satellites called Iridium, and some others—

ross

Oh yeah. You see those every now and then.

terry

—you can do a telephone call with, moving across the sky.

jannicke

A really crappy signal, it’s like, [Imitates static noises.]

terry

Yeah. But you can do a phone call.

ross

But those are not geosynchronous.

terry

They’re not, no. So you can get them over the North Pole, and so our researchers in Antarctica use those for phone calls, but they’re not good enough for bandwidth.

ross

Ah. Oh yeah, live video streaming.

terry

So to do live video, we had to—

jannicke

Barely good enough for a phone call. [Everyone responds affirmatively.]

terry

I was supposed to—Anderson Cooper—we were up at the North Pole. I was supposed to do it. We’re coming down to 15 minutes, and I’m like, “I’m gonna have to do phone.” Then five minutes, then about a minute left, I said, “Jannicke, I’m—forget this, I’m gonna do the phone.” And then 30 seconds before, she grabs her cell phone and goes, “Here. We’re on.” and just starts filming. I’m like, literally within seconds of going on air with Anderson, it just popped up, and I was like, “Oh hey, we’re over the North Pole.” And we were really far north then. I don’t even know—80-something degrees north. We were really far north. And these satellites all have, I think 22 antennas?

jannicke

Yeah, something.

terry

Right, so they’re not—it’s not just one giant antenna, ‘cause it covers all kinds of parts of the Earth. But they normally don’t point their antennas at the North and South Pole, because—

jannicke

No one lives there. Why would you?

ross

Right, right. For the polar bear and the penguin on either side.

terry

So Jannicke was able to talk them in, and they started pointing these things, and they need to know our exact ground track so they could know where to point them. So they really helped us out.

jannicke

But also, the problem is we’re going almost at the speed of sound, so.

terry

Yeah, we were moving fast. So they had to track us at a certain time, and they don’t have—it wasn’t a radar that actually tracks the airplane, they just had to know when and where to point it. So they needed to know like, exactly when we were gonna be places.

ross

How long does it take to pull all these strings and get them to program this?

terry

We only had like days.

jannicke

[Laughing] We only literally had days.

terry

I mean, the whole thing came together at the last second.

jannicke

But we had people around the world working around the clock, like everywhere from Sydney to the States to the Middle East to Europe. We had headquarters everywhere working 24/7.

ross

Amazing. That’s another thing like, okay,  so if you need someone to do the job of 20 people, but you also need it done fast and well, which are usually at odds.

terry

And cheaply. [Laughs.]

ross

And cheaply! Right, that’s the golden three. You can have two, but not three, yeah.

terry

Faster, better, cheaper. You get two of three.

jannicke

Call Jannicke if you want all three! [Everyone laughs.]

ross

Except you should pay her what she’s worth.

terry

I agree. I got paid twice what Jannicke got paid.

ross

Oh! Okay, that kind of math going on.

terry

That’s actually not true. I still haven’t been paid, so. [Carrie laughs.]

ross

Labors of love. Okay.

carrie

Yeah, science is such a beautiful example of collaboration, which I think it often doesn’t get credit for, but here’s a story about all these nations participating together in this project in, what, a few days? That’s really extraordinary.

terry

That is one of the themes of this movie. I wanted to, originally, I was gonna be a pilot and it all came together too late. So Hamish, the guy that put it together, said, “Why don’t you make a movie?” And that’s what I want to do in life, so it was a perfect opportunity. But we, Jannicke and I, talked like, how do you make—you can make a five minute thing about setting a world record, but how are you gonna make an hour long movie about guys flying in a business jet? I mean, so I was worried about—

jannicke

Well, the International Space Cooperation is that, even though a country is at war, you will still cooperate in space. [Everyone responds affirmatively.] So actually, Terry has a great story about that.

terry

[Everyone responds affirmatively at different times while Terry speaks.] Yeah, so as we’re going through the movie, eventually I came to realize that setting the record is like the excuse for it, but there’s a lot bigger ideas that I want to talk about. So we talked about the environment, we talked about international cooperation. When we stopped for gas in Kazakhstan, we picked up— [Everyone starts laughing.]

carrie

Like you do.

terry

—my space station in Astana. We were running low on gas, so there was Astana, so we stopped. Gennady Padalka, my crew mate from the space station, joined us and flew down to Mauritius, and that was the best part of the movie. It’s really a funny part.

ross

I can’t wait.

terry

One of the things—so space cooperation in general, and like how Apollo brought the world together. And so that’s one of the things we were talking about is how Apollo brought the world together and this bringing the world together, and here, America and Russia have not exactly been the best of friends the last few years, but here, Gennady and I are having a great time. And so that was a big part of it. And when I was in space—

jannicke

And Russia allowing us to get a direct flight path as well, which was quite difficult.

ross

Oh, normally that would not be—

terry

Yeah, normally. So, there are these fixes that you have to fly to, and then you go wherever you want.

ross

No fly zones.

terry

Well, sort of. Just, you know, America, everybody has them. So, the one for Russia is kind of out of the way, and one of our pilots is Ukrainian. So he called up and said, “Hey, we’re gonna pick up Gennady Padalka, the Hero of Russia.” And Hero of Russia is a biiig deal. It’s like medal of honor kind of thing.

ross

Oh! It’s an actual title.

terry

Oh, yeah. Like, you don’t wait in line, you get a special license plate.

ross

Hold on, let me put this on my bucket list. [Everyone laughs.] [Muttering, pretending to write] Hero of Russia...

terry

Geroy rossii, da.

jannicke

Gennady is like, what, 879 days in space?

terry

[Ross and Carrie respond with awe, saying “wow” multiple times.] Yeah, he’s got the most ever of any human, like he’s spent more time in space. So once we told him that, the controller was like okay, and he cleared us direct. Like, we got to fly across Russia the whole way.

ross

Friends, literally, in high places. [Carrie laughs.]

terry

Yes, it is good to know Gennady Padalka. So yeah. When I was in space we had a similar story in that we’re sitting there. We had this ammonia leak, which is a super dangerous emergency. It’s chapter 5 in View From Above.

carrie

Okay. I’ll check that out.

terry

And uh, we thought the station was gonna die. We were sequestered on the Russian segment, because they don’t use ammonia, they use glycol as their coolant. The Americans use ammonia as our coolant fluid, which is better and more efficient, and it takes more heat away.

ross

Suck it, Russians. [Carrie laughs.]

terry

The problem is it kills you dead.

ross

Oh, we’re talking about unity right now, I take it back.

terry

So the one advantage the Russian system has is it doesn’t kill you dead if it leaks. [Everyone laughs loudly.] So yeah, we’re America, America’s great. We have these fancy systems—

carrie

Suck it, Americans!

terry

—that just kills you dead.

ross

We’re number one in killing people!

terry

Right, and so similar thing. The space shuttle Columbia, a piece of foam put a hole in the wing and it killed the crew, seven of my good friends. [Everyone makes sympathetic noises.] The Russian Soyuz, one time it came back to Earth backwards, with the heat shield pointed in the wrong direction.

ross

And survived?

terry

And survived, yeah. So, the Russian stuff is simpler, but it works.

ross

It’s hardy.

terry

It’s hardy, yeah. The American stuff’s more capable, but it breaks. And so anyway, that was a good example of that.  So, the deputy prime minister, a guy who had Tweeted, “Hey Americans, you can take a trampoline to get to the space station,” because we had shut down our program and the only way we could get to the space station was on the Russian Soyuz. So he wasn’t very happy about sanctions. So in the middle of all this mess that everybody knows about, he called up and said, “Hey, you can stay as long you want. We’re gonna work together. We’re gonna get through that.” It was a great example of International Cooperation, how things can and should go. This guy had actually walked me out to my Russian rocket. He like, held my arm as I was carrying my spacesuit and my cooling things, so. It’s a good—space and exploration in general is one of the few things that can unite people, I think.

ross

Amazing.

ross

Hey, everybody. Ross here. Sorry to interrupt this interview, but we gotta go to the billing department. And today, I am joined not by Carrie, but by Kara Blocher.

kara blocher

Hey!

ross

You’ve all heard me talk about Kara before, my lovely wife. Though you’ve also heard her in our Ouija board episode, and our Thrive documentary commentary bonus content. We’re celebrating Thanksgiving right now, and Carrie and I were not able to record before we left. So, first of all though, I do wanna say. As I was editing this, I don’t know how I missed out on the obvious joke of Terry the Cable Guy, as he was laying cables. I apologize, listeners. That was an oversight on my part. Yeah, sorry.

kara

Oh, damn. Total letdown.

ross

Also, I’m sure you’re wondering, “Wait a second, didn’t they just interview David Mikkelson recently? Is Jannicke Mikkelsen related?” No. Different Mikkelsen. With an -en, not an -on. But I do think that’s pretty impressive that we had two Mikkelsens on the show in relatively quick succession. But, we’re gonna talk about—this is actually perfect. Today we’re talking about a great product for your feet. It’s called—you’ve tried Rothy’s before.

kara

I have, and they’re so comfortable, and they come in an amazing array of styles and colors.

ross

I always tell people about your experience with Rothy’s, but here you are to talk about them yourself. You’ve got the black—

kara

Yeah, I went totally plain, but I love them. They work with everything, and they’re machine washable.

ross

And yet they’re made out of plastic bottles. That’s crazy.

kara

I know! But so comfortable.

ross

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kara

They’re chic, stylish, and fully machine washable. Best of all, they’re incredibly comfortable, and have zero break-in period thanks to their seamlessly knit design.

ross

Plus Rothy’s always come with free shipping, free returns, and free exchanges.

kara

Rothy’s are available in a wide array of colors and patterns.

ross

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kara

I did. Thank you, ModCloth.

ross

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kara

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ross

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kara

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ross

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kara

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ross

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ross

I should mention, we’re here at USC right now, recording less than a quarter of a mile away from The Endeavor, the space shuttle that you were on.

terry

My space shuttle, yeah. In fact, there’s a scene in One More Orbit. I went out there for Endeavour, yeah. It was really cool to see it. Like, last time I saw it I was flying it, and now here it is.

ross

Your old friend.

terry

Yeah. It’s really neat. It’s an amazing thing.

carrie

It’s at the California Science Center, is that where it is?

terry

It is. Yeah, just right across the street.

ross

Yeah. Great place.

carrie

The Endeavour, or the science center?

ross

Both. But, you know the Endeavour a little better.

terry

I do. It probably smells musty in there. I mean, the hatch has been closed for like, eight years.

ross

And it’s not spelled—it’s spelled with the -our, because it’s named after the ship? After like—

terry

There’s been a million Endeavour ships, but it’s named after, I think, Captain Cook’s Endeavour— [Everyone responds affirmatively.] —from the 1700s.

ross

Jannicke, I want to hear the story, because I know that as you’re doing this live—

jannicke

I haven’t been in space.

ross

[Laughing] But you’ve circumnavigated the planet faster than anybody else, except for Terry here, at least across the Poles—

jannicke

Actually, I was at the front.

terry

You were at the front of the plane, yeah. Technically.

ross

Oh, you beat him!

terry

Yeah, you beat me.

ross

You crossed the finish line first. And so, as you’re doing this live stream, people are watching and I assume commenting? You probably have, I would imagine, some flat Earth proponents who are interested in this endeavor, to use a loaded word here. What were they saying and doing as you were live streaming this video that was essentially disproving this model that they have with the North Pole at the middle of the disc and the south pole is this ice ring?

terry

I think Archimedes disproved that a couple thousand years ago, but anyway. [Everyone laughs.]

ross

Fair point. Your book of photographs of the Earth also disproved that. But this live stream of yours, it’s hard for them to explain.

jannicke

Well, I guess the question was how we’re gonna reappear on the other side. Once we go over the edge of the South Pole, how do we pop up on the other side? [Everyone responds emphatically.]

ross

How do you do that?

jannicke

Time warping, obviously.

ross

I mean, did anyone say anything like that? What were the comments, like as people were watching?

jannicke

You know, I was too busy to read the comments.

ross

Yeah. Okay.

carrie

Good for you.

jannicke

My job is to babysit satellites and it’s—you’re awake for 46 hours.

ross

You’re doing work, and forget the haters.

jannicke

I have never stayed awake for 46 hours, but it was torture kind of just babysitting. You just become delusional eventually. Um, but it was kind of interesting from my point of view, because we do go LOS, so we lose the signal of the satellite and we’re over the South Pole, we can’t talk to anybody and we can’t communicate if we have an emergency like we did.

ross

So there was time that you had to go offline.

jannicke

Yes. So, for a good 8 hours we were without signal over the South Pole, and our aircraft actually ran into a bit of trouble there. There was nobody we could contact to let them know that we were in trouble.

terry

We talked to the people at the South Pole. [Jannicke laughs and affirms.] Like, there were some scientists in a room that were wintering over there. They had like a—they had one of these radios, they all sat around and talked to us. But they couldn’t help us. They could say, “Dude, that sucks,” but that was about all they could do. 

ross

There’s a few different stations in Antarctica, right? n

terry

There are, yeah. I’ve been to a Russian one, and an Indian one, and an American one. Yeah. So there’s—

jannicke

Well, I just—whilst we’re in this trouble, trying to figure out who do we tell about our emergency, I didn’t realize there was a whole internet storm happening about figuring out how we were going to pop up on the other side of Earth.

carrie

Okay, so you did see it later, then.

jannicke

I saw it later.

terry

We heard about it, yeah.

carrie

Okay. Yeah, I’m curious what your guyses take is on whether to engage with that sort of thing? Do you just say, “I’m not even gonna feed that,” or do you say, “Okay, people really believe this stuff, so I’m going to counteract it.”

terry

Well. I think they just want Twitter followers. I’m making sure that you get a lot of comments on this podcast right now. [Ross and Carrie laugh.] I mean, I don’t know. There’s basic science education, hopefully. Like, vaccines work, the Earth is round, we landed on the moon, so we should figure out how to solve cancer and how to bring people out of extreme poverty and how to make electricity without polluting the Earth to death, and—

ross

There’s real big pants work to be done.

terry

There’s actual things that we need to fix, and not silliness. The silliness distracts us. The fact that you could be asking me about space and Jannicke about making movies, and we’re talking about that. You know, let’s talk about meaningful stuff.

jannicke

But then, I kind of love the flat Earthers, because I don’t understand their way of thinking and I just really want to.

ross

Yeah. Yeah, how do you arrive at such a belief and hold it so strongly? I know you had talked, Terry, to Mark Sargeant, who is one of the proponents who really started the YouTube movement for flat Earth. And we had him on our show, and he talked a big game about the dome. And he just had such an inventive mind, and his ability to invent a solution to preserve his model was all that was required for him. As long as I can imagine some way to explain phenomena X, you know, I’ve done my job.

terry

Well, that’s a good—they should write manuscripts for movies. I mean, screenplays. [Ross and Carrie respond emphatically as Terry speaks.] The Truman Show. I love that movie.

crosstalk

Ross and Carrie: [In unison] They love that movie, too.

terry

It’s a great movie.

jannicke

They should write orbital mechanics for the space shuttle.

ross

[Laughing] Oh no, heard the shuttle crashed.

carrie

You know, it’s interesting. I hear a lot, that sort of perspective of like, “Well, why give airtime to these bad ideas?” and I feel more like, well, misinformation is like a virus. You know, it spreads, and you can say, “We shouldn’t have to build a vaccine against that,” oh well, we do, you know?

terry

So what’s the way—how do you kill—how do you de-weed your yard? Do you run around pulling weeds, or do you make sure the grass grows well? And I think a better way to do it is to have really strong grass, and then the weeds will eventually die out.

carrie

So what’s the strong grass here?

terry

[Ross and Carrie respond affirmatively several times as Terry speaks.] Science education. Like, just understanding the basics of life, you know? There’s a lot of countries that do basic science education, but the internet, you know, everybody’s got a conspiracy theory, and it’s a constant flat Earth and aliens and, you know. [Carrie laughs.] It used to be JFK, but that was a long time ago. Now it’s whatever.

ross

Now that’s small potatoes.

terry

There’s always gonna be stuff like that, I get that. But like I said, there are some real things that we should be spending our time on, and not necessarily some other stuff.

jannicke

Or, Terry, we could end up being the eight most famous people in the world for having time warped.

terry

That’s true.

carrie

You didn’t think of that.

terry

Well, I’ll see what the endorsement deal is, and you know, we could change our tune.

carrie

[Laughs.] Well, speaking of other important things, you’re missing a baseball game for us. Thank you so much. And you’re wearing a jersey for the Astros. Do you love them because of their name?

terry

Two jerseys.

ross

Ad Astros.

terry

[Ross and Carrie both respond emphatically several times.] I’m actually a transplanted Astros fan. I was an Orioles fan growing up. I grew up in Baltimore. And I’m still an Orioles fan, I love the Orioles and always will. I used to always root for an Astros/Orioles World Series when the Astros were in the national league, but as Jannicke knows, now they are—they moved to the American league.

ross

Am I remembering right, uh, Cal Ripken? Cal Ripken Jr. for the Orioles?

terry

You are. Yeah. The Iron Man, yeah.

ross

I used to be really into baseball growing up. We’re talking about Nolan Ryan before this. You had a signed Nolan Ryan baseball.

terry

I did. Nolan’s son just offered me two tickets to the game tonight. I’m like, “Ah, I’m in LA, I can’t go.”

ross

That’s amazing! How cool.

jannicke

I had never even seen a baseball game until this year. [Everyone laughs.]

terry

Yeah, her first game was at the Dodgers. Yeah, in the suite.

jannicke

It was nice.

ross

Yeah, Jannicke, you are from Norway. [Jannicke makes an “uh-huh” sound in affirmation.] Excellent. How’s Norway doing this time of year?

jannicke

It’s colder.

ross

Okay.

carrie

Did you like Frozen? [Everyone laughs and responds enthusiastically.]

jannicke

I did! I loved it!

carrie

Good, ‘cause Ross worked on it!

ross

Are you looking forward to Frozen 2? It’s coming soon!

jannicke

I can’t wait! I want to be Elsa!

terry

I want to be Olaf.

jannicke

And my dad’s name is Olaf.

terry

When I launched—

carrie

What?

terry

—in the Soyuz, you have this talisman that tells you, it’s the индикатором невесомости, so it tells you when you’re weightless, obviously. And uh—

ross

If you couldn’t tell.

terry

—it’s a little doll. And Anton’s daughter was eight, and she got a little Olaf doll. So we flew into space with Olaf there. [Ross and Carrie say “aww!” emphatically.]

jannicke

He’s like, dangling in the rear view.

terry

And then once you get to space, they start floating, and so yeah.

ross

Olaf’s been to space! That’s amazing.

carrie

Good for him. How much stuff can you pack to go up to space?

terry

On the Soyuz, one and a half kilograms. So like, smaller than your purse there.

carrie

Oh, my god! Okay. And you still brought a baseball.

terry

Uh, yeah. [Everyone cracks up laughing.] What else would I bring?

carrie

Terry opens his eyes wide in accusation.

ross

Yeah. “How could even ask? We’re talking about important stuff in this interview!”

jannicke

What would you bring to space, Ross?

ross

I’m guessing all the camera equipment did not count.

terry

You can’t, no. You’re not even allowed to bring camera equipment. You don’t need to. There’s every camera you ever want.

ross

That was all part of the—

carrie

Attaché.

ross

What would I bring to space?

carrie

Yeah, what fun thing would you bring?

ross

I dunno why, I thought of a Rubix cube right away. I don’t know.

terry

It’d be cool to give your kids. But guys have tried to sneak cameras, and I’m like—

ross

Why?

terry

“Dude, why’d you bring a little camera?”

ross

Yeah, if there’s other cameras available.

terry

There’s every professional camera in the world is there.

ross

This is a good question. I’m not prepared for it. Can you bring food items like milk duds?

terry

Um, they have like, a separate place for that. So you can get like, care packages. Like, I love Reese's peanut butter cups, so I got those and these little chocolate blueberry dark chocolate things I love.

carrie

I did notice that fruit plays a large role in your book. It seems like fruit was really a premium.

terry

Oh, yeah. It only comes up, you know, once every couple months on a cargo ship, and that’s when the cargo ship doesn’t blow up. We had three cargo ships blow up. Uh, Signus, Orbital—now it’s Northrop Grumman—blew up, full of my chocolate and underwear and everything else.

jannicke

Nooo!

ross

And those are all unmanned ships.

terry

Those are cargo, unmanned cargo ships. And then a few months later, a Russian Progress blew up. And then a few months after that, a SpaceX blew up.

ross

Wow, jeez. No refreshes, no fruit.

terry

It kinda sucked for eight months. So the station was running low on supplies. Thankfully there was enough, NASA had managed it really well. There was enough spares. But, it was in—one more and we would’ve had to start bringing guys home. It would’ve been, yeah. [Ross and Carrie respond affirmatively.] But luckily, [sound of knocking on wood] that hasn’t happened since.

ross

Okay, I’ve got to ask you about another thing that falls within our bailiwick, and that’s aliens. You hear a lot of stories from astronauts who have seen interesting things in space, or things they can’t explain, or sparkly objects, you know. And an astronaut’s word is, I think, a little more interesting on such matters. What are your thoughts about life outside of our solar system in general, but also about whether any of it has visited here?

terry

So, I’ve got a couple thoughts on that. That’s always one of the top questions at every talk I ever give, and it’s a valid one. So, there’s so many stars. You cannot imagine. You go a couple hours north of here, in the Sierra Nevadas, at night, in the clear night, and look up. It’s like, wow. I gasped out loud the first time I saw that.

ross

And all of the ones we can see with our naked eye aren’t too far away.

terry

Right, they’re only tens and hundreds of lightyears away. But when you go to space, there’s like ten times more than that. More stars than you can imagine. And now NASA has some satellites, Kepler and others, that are looking for these planets and finding them. So, there’s billions of plants out there, and that’s just in our galaxy, and there’s billions of galaxies, so of course there’s other planets like ours. So on the one hand, you would think that there’s aliens. But on the other hand, the more I learn about life—I did an awful lot of guinea pig investigations on my eyeball and my brain and my heart, just looking at all the details. The more I learned about life and the complexity of it, I just don’t think it would ever happen on its own. Like, if you took a pile of metal and left it on this table for a billion years, it would never make a Coke can. And I was just learning, uh, my son is a chemical engineer in school, and he was telling me that even the simplest one-cell organisms have millions of molecules. Many of them have trillions of molecules. So, to think that millions of molecules would suddenly line up in the exact right way, and form an organism with DNA that can replicate is crazy. Like, that could never happen.

terry

So I just think you need—if you see a created thing, that means there’s a creator. So even though there’s billions of plants, I think if there’s life, somebody has to make it. Which maybe they did. I came away from space, like, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. [Ross and Carrie respond emphatically.] But, all that stuff’s kind of a moot point, ‘cause those stars are really, really, really, really, really far away. And, you know, we’ve been sending out signals now for a hundred years, radio signals. So maybe the aliens will hear those one day. But, they’re eventually gonna see the signals of Trump and Kim at that summit and they’re gonna turn around and go somewhere else.

ross

Well, the first signal we sent out was, uh, Hitler giving a speech, so. [Terry laughs.] That one’s on the leading edge.

terry

They’re gonna get those signals, yeah. But, that’s a joke, obviously. But they’re obviously not gonna get those signals, because the sun is so much brighter than the biggest antenna we have. Like, if we transmitted with all of our power possible, you would never hear it, because the sun would just overwhelm it, because it’s so much more—the radio signals that it makes, you know, the signal to noise ratio would never be what it needs to be.

ross

That’s an interesting point.

terry

So, there’s lots of planets, so you’d think there would be aliens. Um.

ross

The numbers are good.

terry

I don’t think there are, unless somebody made it, because life is just so complicated. Um. But even if there is, we’re never gonna see them, because they’re so far away.

ross

So we can track life back at least through kind of our evolutionary history, back to early, simpler forms. But you would say, kind of, at some point you need something to help out with—

terry

Who makes that first cell? And even if you make one cell, what’s the odds that that cell is gonna survive and make two more, and what’s the odds that those two are gonna survive and make two more? And then, you know, how do you get an eyeball?

carrie

Well, you’ve really zagged on us here, Terry. [Laughs.]

terry

If you have just a small part, if you just have an optic nerve, well, then you have to wait another billion years before the cornea forms, and then you have a billion years of some species with half of an eyeball. So that guys gonna die, ‘cause he sucks to be. Yeah, you know, he’s got a mutated eyeball.

ross

Well, he might be better than the guy next to him with no eyeball.

carrie

Right, with no eyeball.

terry

Yeah, but if you only have part of an eyeball, you’re worse off, right? Until you get a fully operational one.

carrie

Mm, no. I mean, because, you know, like sensitive patches of skin still like, gave information to the animal, even if it wasn’t a fully formed eyeball.

terry

That—I don’t know. It could. It’s so complicated to, you know.

ross

It’s a wonder to behold either way.

terry

It’s pretty cool. It was fun. I love the science that we did, because it was fun to kind of learn about all different subjects. Biology, material science, physics, chemistry.

ross

[Terry responds affirmatively several times.] Oh man, yeah. Is that all part of kind of the required training? You’re heading up there, you’re gonna be sort of the advocate or the working arms of a bunch of scientists on the ground who want you to be carrying out their experiments.

terry

Yeah. So, I’m not a trained—I’m a fighter pilot, my background. But these PhDs worked on this thing for five or ten years, and finally it’s in space, and finally an astronaut’s gonna do it. And I’d never seen it before, and I show up to handle those very diligently and seriously, because I knew some—a group of people’s careers were focused on this one thing that I only had an hour to work on. So, we’re basically like lab techs who show up and do an experiment with very little training.

ross

Okay. So you don’t get the honorary degree for all this hard work you’ve done.

terry

No, I haven’t gotten any honorary degrees.

ross

Just putting that out into the universe. [Terry laughs.]

carrie

We are. We’re sitting in USC, come on, guys.

terry

I am at USC. I am.

ross

In case anyone’s listening. Um, but so looping back to the earlier question, I think it’s safe to say then that you don’t think any aliens have visited this planet and people have maybe been misperceiving phenomenon they’ve seen.

terry

I haven’t seen anything like that personally. I know there’s been—I mean, there’s been—look, people have seen stuff. There’s been these reports in the Washington Post and the New York Times and these tic-tacs that the Navy pilots have seen, and I can’t explain them. I don’t know. I didn’t see them myself.

carrie

Tic-tacs? I don’t know what that means.

terry

You’ve heard about these, right? These Navy sightings?

ross

Yeah, this came up recently, right, as a news item?

terry

The first one was in 2004 and there’s been some recent ones, yeah. It’s been here off the coast of California. These little round—they have, you can Google it, on the Washington Post and you can see videos of these things on F-18 HUD cameras.

carrie

But Tic-Tacs meaning that’s sort of the shape of them, okay.

terry

They’re shaped like an oval, yeah.

carrie

Gotcha.

ross

So you would say that’s worth paying attention to, but—

terry

Well, I can’t—I haven’t seen anything myself, but other people see stuff. Obviously, most stuff can be explained, but you know, it’s funny to think that. Why would you travel all the way across the universe, and go to New Mexico? [Everyone laughs.] Think about it. Of all the places to go, they go to Roswell?

carrie

Well, they don’t know where they’re going, they’re just shooting out there.

terry

And, here’s the other thing. Like, everybody’s interested in Area 51. Well, what about Area 50? Nobody ever talks about that. [Everyone laughs uproariously.]

ross

Oh, you just started a whole internet rumor.

carrie

Oh, you’re about to— yeah, exactly!

terry

There’s gonna be a whole—

ross

Storm Area 50! Terry Virts says there’s stuff there!

carrie

What’s Area 50?

terry

I dunno, that’s a good question.

carrie

Oh, okay. [Laughs.]

ross

Well, you know, you don’t get Area 51 without, uh, Areas—

carrie

One through 49?

terry

Like WD-40. Was there ever a WD-39?

ross

There was, yeah! That’s the idea, that was the experiment that finally worked.

carrie

The Heinz-57 or, 87, or something. Like ketchup.

ross

Oh, I’m not sure of the origin there.

terry

That’s like, that’s how many spices they put in there.

ross

Are all in there? Or was it just the fifty-seventh iteration?

carrie

No, they said it was just, like, the—

terry

Or was it just the fifty-seventh recipe?

ross

Or was it just the fifty-seventh iteration?

carrie

Yeah, because I think they did a contest, and that’s the one that won was—that’s the one people liked the most. Yeah.

terry

Who knew?

carrie

Now we’re getting down to the important issues! How does ketchup get named?

terry

Ketchup in space.

ross

I assume the film is gonna be called One More Orbit? And you’re busy editing it right now?

jannicke

Yeah, we’re editing it together with editors, yeah.

ross

And how and when will people be able to see this?

terry

That’s a great question. So, we finished color today. Tomorrow’s like, the final-final edit, uh, and then from there, the production company’s gonna take it out. Netflix, Hulu, whoever. You know, all the different distribution channels. So, we’ll start that process the day after tomorrow.

ross

We never said it, what was the record for circumnavigating the Pole, the North and South direction?

jannicke

46 hours, 40 minutes, and 22 seconds. Not that anybody’s counting.

terry

Plus or minus.

ross

Try to beat that, anybody else! [Terry laughs.] I was just reading about the guy who beat the marathon record, a good two hours.

terry

Oh my goodness!

ross

What an accomplishment, that’s amazing, it’s like 13 miles an hour, or something like that. Sustained.

terry

I couldn’t run one lap. We were talking about the speed—

jannicke

We were in the gym, yeah, I was trying to put the treadmill on 21 kilometers per hour, and it was just like, “There’s no chance I can run for two seconds!” [Carrie laughs.]

ross

Here all of us are just blathering away in U.S. measurements. We’re the only country that does that. You’re using the sensible—

jannicke

Oh, sorry for that.

terry

Oh, it’s like 13 miles per hour. It’s-it’s not possible. It’s basically—go to the track at your local high school and run as fast as you can—

ross

—and do that for 26 hours?

terry

—and after half of the lap, you’re gonna be out of breath, and that’s how fast the guy did, it for 26 miles, yeah.

ross

And you did the flying equivalent of that, around the world.

terry

We did the flying equivalent. Yep.

ross

Fantastic.

terry

That guy was moving fast, that was impressive.

ross

It’s cool to see humans do—

terry

Oh, Jannicke ran a half marathon with the guy, yeah.

jannicke

You know, I actually ran a marathon with that guy, yeah.

ross

What?

jannicke

[Ross and Carrie respond emphatically several times.] And he was coming in for—so, as I was finishing the half-marathon, the people who run the full marathon come back, and sort of loop back on themselves, so we all end up at the same goal. But the problem is that, you have to run next to them as they’re coming towards you as you run, sort of away, and then it’s just terribly de-motivating, because, I am so tired!

ross

You’re working hard, and here comes…!

jannicke

I’m at this two hour point, and I’m just happy one foot is in front of the other! You know, I’m looking down to actually check if one foot is in front of the other.

ross

Eliud Kipchoge, that’s the man’s name.

jannicke

And here this guy is running as smoothly as anything, like a body length between his feet, flying. It was so smooth, he could be drinking a cup of tea.

carrie

[Laughs] What a braggart!

jannicke

I was so jealous! I was so jealous! And just sort of, like, the jealousy and hate I felt— [Everyone starts laughing.] —at how easy this guy could run and float! It was unreal!

ross

Oh, that would be so dispiriting for me. Absolutely. I have a friend who runs some six-minute miles, and even that is frustrating. So, I dunno what to do with a person like that.

carrie

I’ve never run a mile.

ross

… I don’t believe that. [Everyone bursts into laughter.]

carrie

No, that’s true! That’s literally true. I’ve stopped—I’ve like, been told to run the mile, and then like, you know, run and walked—

terry

Not even in seventh grade when they make you?

ross

Like, for the Nolan-Ryan fitness test? Or the Presidential one?

carrie

Yeah, that’s the closest I’ve come. It was eighth grade. They made us run the mile, and I did it in 7:24, I remember that.

ross

That’s really good!

carrie

Well, I only did—walked for part of it.

terry

Minutes or hours? [Everyone bursts into laughter again.]

ross

Oh, casting some shade!

carrie

It took 7 hours, but I did a great job. My pants were full of poop.

ross

That’s really fast, uh, interesting.

carrie

Well, my friend Ryan was keeping me going. But I walked for part of it.

jannicke

Me and Terry always had gym battles.

ross

Yeah—oh, gym—okay.

terry

Yeah, I went loose because Jannicke was on the Norwegien national speed-skating team for the Olympics a few years ago, so.

carrie

Woah!

ross

Wait, wait, what? Say that again.

terry

Yeah, she was a Norwegian speed skater.

jannicke

I never qualified for the Olympics.

carrie 

Oh, you never qualified, okay. [Imitates snobby tone of voice.] Um, we’re not impressed, Jannicke.

terry

By two-hundredths of a second.

ross

Holy crap!

carrie

Oh my god, that’s amazing! Can we find you skating on YouTube?

jannicke

It was before the YouTube era.

ross

Oh, really?

terry

It was before the internet.

jannicke

Can you believe that? There was actually time before the internet.

carrie

[Laughs.] Well, this has been extraordinary. Thank you both, so much.

ross

Yeah, both of you are such fascinating people, who’ve done so many things. What’s next, after One More Orbit?

terry

Well, we’ve got a couple of ideas for some TV shows. [Carrie makes a delighted sound.]

ross

I know you’re always running around. You’ve got, you know, 58 things you’re doing.

jannicke

We were in Chukotka in the far east of Russia, far east of Siberia, 2,000 miles north of—

terry

[While he talks, Ross and Carrie hum in understanding several times.] Vladivostok. Yeah, we were… It was far. It’s actually really close to Alaska. You can see Sarah Palin across the Bering Strait. [Ross and Carrie laugh.] But it was amazing, it was so beautiful there. It was really cool. I was doing a speech for a friend of mine for business school who runs a company there, and it was a really amazing thing. So we have some ideas about doing a TV show to visit these places I saw from Earth, and see kind of how the Earth affects people’s lives. It’s very different living in the northern Arctic region, versus living in the Bahamas, versus living here, where it’s—today, they’re like, “Oh, it’s warm, it’s gonna be warm on Wednesday, that should be earthquake weather.” You know? Like, if you live in southern California, there’s earthquakes. If you live in the Bahamas, there’s hurricanes. If you live, wherever there’s, you know, Namibia, there’s sand dunes. Everywhere on Earth, there’s a different place, so.

ross

Different thing that’s trying to kill you.

terry

I’ve got—I really wanna do a documentary about gun violence. Because it’s such a disaster in this country. [Everyone responds affirmatively.] I don’t wanna make it political, just throwing spears, that doesn’t help. People who believe that are gonna believe it, and just get mad. People who don’t believe it aren’t gonna watch it, right? So that—I wanna make something that kind of moves the needle. Otherwise you’re just wasting your time. [Ross and Carrie agree emphatically.] I’ve got some other TV and documentary ideas. So, we’ll see. And books, too much to do, not enough time to do it all.

jannicke

Terry’s a storyteller. I work with him to work on his emotions a bit more, because they’re there. It’s proven in his book, he does have emotions.

terry

I have lots of emotions. I’m a very emotional guy.

jannicke

The problem is he goes—and then we landed on Earth, and, oh, there’s a few more things that happened between like, getting out to the International Space Station and then landing on Earth, so let’s talk about that for a bit.

ross

So no shortage of ideas, no shortage of projects, all to make the world a better place and help people understand science a little better.

terry

Yeah, that’s an important—it’s—I never realized how much of a foundation it was, until you see it under attack. Like, these diseases that were eradicated are now coming back, you know, cause guys aren’t getting—

ross

The things you wouldn’t think you would need to defend.

terry

Right, that’s the kind of thing. You know, one of the things they always say, you know, astronauts don’t see borders in space. Let’s just all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”. So, look, I was an air force fighter pilot for 30 years. I’m a realist, I’m not an idealist. I understand the world we live in, but that border thing is almost true, except for it’s not. I was in space for months, and I remember thinking, “What is that river down there?” It’s in South Asia. There must be some bacteria that glows in the dark or something, because this thing goes on for a thousand miles, and that river down there is like, brown, and you can see it at night time. [Ross and Carrie respond in awe several times.] Well, it’s not a river. It’s the border between India and Pakistan, where the military DMZ is. It’s like, a military border, they have ten thousand—I was reading about it. It’s this big thing where it’s all lit up at night time. It’s a military border. You can see that. And the one that stands out more than anything is the North Korea/South Korea border. The first time I flew over there, I had spent a year flying F-16s in Korea, and I looked down and I’m like, “Wait a minute, there’s no ocean there. What’s going on?” Well, it’s not an ocean, because it’s black. It’s North Korea. And you see this, another one of these brown rivers, and it’s the DMZ. Which cracks me up, because I don’t know who gets to name these things.

ross

Demilitarized zone.

terry

Right. But the most heavily militarized place on Earth is the demilitarized zone. [Ross and Carrie laugh.] So, you can see these borders. It’s a real thing.

ross

That reminds me of Doctor Strange. “You can’t fight in here, it’s a war room!”

terry

“There’s no fighting in the war room!” So when I was doing nuclear weapons in the F-16, that was one of the movies we’d watch. Kind of this, um, joke.

ross

Oh, man. This has been fantastic. We could talk to you both forever. Uh, and who knows what other amazing secrets and stories we would find. But, how can people find out more, how can they follow both of you?

terry

So, for me, I have a website, TerryVirts.com. A lot of the projects I’m doing on there. Astro Terry. You can find my Twitter and my Instagram and all that. So, TerryVirts.com is probably—

ross

V-I-R-T-S.

terry

T-E-R-R-Y V-I-R-T-S. That’s right.

ross

Excellent. Jannicke?

jannicke

I have an Instagram, and a website, and getting people to spell Jannicke isn’t exactly the easiest thing. [Everyone laughs.] But it is @JannickeLife.

ross

Okay, so J-A-N-N-I-C-K-E.

jannicke

Oh, my goodness!

terry

Ding ding, ring the bell!

jannicke

Life behind that, and then you’ll find me.

carrie

Great!

ross

Well, thank you so much.

carrie

Thank you.

ross

Well, that’s it for our show. Our theme music is by Brian Keith Dalton.

kara

Our administrative manager is Ian Kramer. And I’m Carrie Poppy.

ross

You can find us on the internet at Facebook.com/onrac, O-N-R-A-C, or on Twitter @OhNoPodcast. Also, I know we left quite a cliffhanger with Terry and Jannicke talking about troubles over Antarctica, and we never followed up on that. Jannicke tells me that basically, the aircraft froze while they were flying. They were in midair, couldn’t really do too much about it. It was -117 degrees Fahrenheit. So that was the problem, just in case you wanted to know. But they made it. They survived. Phew. Also, you can find us at our home, MaximumFun.org.

kara

And they have transcripts now!

ross

That’s right! Yeah, you can find transcripts of our recent episodes. It’s really cool, you can watch and read along in real time. Very cool. But you can also support us there if you want to support all of our investigations at MaximumFun.org/donate. We really appreciate it. Thank you to all who support us. Also, if you want to record a jumbotron for your loved one or for your worst enemy, you can do that on Oh No, Ross and Carrie! through us. We will say it for you, but most people do it for kind reasons. That’s really the best thing to do. Anyways, that’s at MaximumFun.org/jumbotron. It looks like you’re thinking of messages you could send to worst enemies.

kara

Yeah, to all my enemies. It could work out.

ross

It’s worth it. And remember!

jannicke

No matter where you are from and how many people tell you it’s not possible, if you believe it’s possible, go for it. Don’t listen to anybody. Believe in yourself. And also...

terry

Don’t tell yourself no.

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Jesse Thorn: This week on Bullseye, Lin Manuel Miranda on His Dark Materials, hip hop, and life after Hamilton. Lin Manuel Miranda: I know it’s the first line of my obituary. So if that line is handled, then what else can I do with my time here? Jesse: It’s Bullseye from MaximumFun.org and NPR.

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About the show

Welcome to Oh No, Ross and Carrie!, the show where we don’t just report on fringe science, spirituality, and claims of the paranormal, but take part ourselves. Follow us as we join religions, undergo alternative treatments, seek out the paranormal, and always find the humor in life’s biggest mysteries. We show up – so you don’t have to. Every week we share a new investigation, interview, or update.

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