The Delayed Side Of The Moon | Crooked Media
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September 06, 2022
What A Day
The Delayed Side Of The Moon

In This Episode

  • NASA was forced to scrub the test launch for its Artemis I moon mission for the second time on Saturday. Miriam Kramer, a space reporter for Axios, joins us to explain why Artemis has yet to take off.
  • And in headlines: Liz Truss was appointed to replace Boris Johnson as the U.K.’s prime minister, Chileans rejected a new progressive constitution, and e-cigarette maker Juul agreed to a nearly $440 million settlement for false advertising.


Show Notes:



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For a transcript of this episode, please visit




Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, September 7th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice. And this is What A Day, a podcast that is not covering Don’t Worry Darling premiere drama since we need about 90 minutes to do it justice. 


Priyanka Aribindi: We only need about 2 seconds to say that Harry Styles definitely spit on Chris Pine. We all saw the video. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I don’t think he did it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Really? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yes, but this is what the UN was created for, international incidents such as this one. [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: On today’s show, the United Kingdom’s new prime minister is promising action amid a looming economic crisis. Plus, a brutal heat wave is pushing California’s power grid to its limit. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But first, this past Saturday, NASA was forced to scrub the test launch for its Artemis One moon mission for the second time. Officials won’t try again until at least late September or early October. We’ll get into what happened in just a minute. But Priyanka, can you remind us what is the big deal about this? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So the Artemis program is NASA’s attempt to send astronauts back to the moon for the first time since the last Apollo mission nearly 50 years ago. So, as we mentioned on the show before, this upcoming launch won’t have any humans on board. It’s just a test run for the real deal that’s supposed to happen in 2025. The agency says the mission will eventually put the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface. So very exciting. But to get a better understanding of all of this, you know what went wrong with this launch and you know what’s to come, I spoke with Miriam Kramer. She is a space reporter for the news site Axios. And I started by asking her why Artemis hasn’t gotten off the ground. 


Miriam Kramer: Yeah. I mean, so the short answer is really just technical issues. NASA’s had a window of a couple of weeks to sort of get this launch out, and they basically just couldn’t make it. First one was scuttled by what they thought was kind of an engine problem, but turned out to be more of a sensor issue, which is better than an engine problem. And the second time they called off the launch was because of a hydrogen leak, which is actually pretty common since it’s a difficult fuel to work with. But it was big enough that they didn’t feel comfortable continuing on with the countdown, and so they called that off on Saturday. So now basically they’re going to end up having to apply some fixes to the rocket. They’re still kind of trying to figure out what that’s going to look like and maybe they’ll be able to attempt another launch at the end of the month. More likely it’ll be in October. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So from your vantage point, do you see when they say like, okay, probably October. Do you anticipate, great, this is going to happen or are you thinking there might be some other delays? This is just kind of kicking the can down the road. What’s your read on that? 


Miriam Kramer: I’m never one to predict when a rocket will launch. Uh rockets, especially new rockets take a lot of figuring out and this is a particularly large, particularly technically difficult rocket. So, you know, when they get back to the pad in October, I think they’ll have a better chance of launching than they did during this round. Sure. But whether it’s much more than a 50/50 shot, I don’t really know. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Okay. So let’s backtrack a little bit and talk about why this is so important, why we’re doing this, what the hype around it really is. So the idea here is to put people back on the moon by 2025. It’s been more than 50 years since Americans have been on the moon. In the entire Artemis program. It’s incredibly expensive. It’s 90 plus billion dollars. What are the benefits of doing this? Why are we doing this now? 


Miriam Kramer: Yeah. One benefit that I think NASA would tell you is that in order to kind of figure out how to go to Mars, you’ve got to go back to the moon first. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. 


Miriam Kramer: It’s a closer point in space. It still has a lot of difficulties and challenges, but it’s only a few days away as opposed to Mars, where you’re really in it for the long haul. The mission itself is probably more like a few years. But if you’re looking for something maybe a little bit more concrete, there’s still science that needs to be done on the moon. We don’t totally understand its formation, its composition, its age, like there are some complicated things that really are benefited by having people up there to bring back rocks. And then, I mean, I guess I have three answers to this, but the other part of it is actually the geopolitical landscape of space– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Miriam Kramer: –Is kind of changing quite a bit right now. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Miriam Kramer: So at the moment, Russia and the U.S. are working really closely on the International Space Station, but there are a lot of tensions in that relationship because of what is happening on the ground. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Miriam Kramer: So when the space station ends probably around 2030, a lot of attention is then going to turn to the moon. Like that’s where geopolitical lines are being drawn, like Russia and China are working on a research base on the moon together. The European Space Agency and others have signed on to the Artemis program. So it’s sort of this interesting realigning and redirection to the moon. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s super interesting. NASA very clearly not the only player in the new space race. There are also these private companies that we haven’t talked too much about. Elon Musk’s Space X. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. They’ve all got a ton of attention, a lot of eyeballs on them. And, you know, they’ve been making really high profile trips in recent years. But critics are questioning whether NASA and the agency can keep up with these billionaires. And not to mention, you know, these other countries that you’ve mentioned, their own space programs. So what do you think about these criticisms? And NASA kind of reentering what now seems to be taken over by these billionaires? 


Miriam Kramer: Artemis is an old school space exploration project. NASA built the SLS through contracts with legacy aerospace companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Miriam Kramer: Like these are defense contractors that also build rockets and have done so for NASA for years. But it’s expensive. I mean, like you said. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 


Miriam Kramer: Billions and billions of dollars for this program. And you have Space X, on the other hand, like figuring out how to launch Starship on almost a shoestring budget by comparison to the SLS. And, you know, Space X has said that they want Starship to be able to go to the moon to go to Mars. Like that’s their big bet on deep space exploration. And it’s interesting because, I mean, they haven’t done it yet. Like Starship hasn’t gone Orbital, the SLS hasn’t gone Orbital either, but it’s arguably closer. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. 


Miriam Kramer: So it’s an interesting thing to see sort of the tension being portrayed between like NASA and these companies, when in reality, NASA also relies on these companies. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah! 


Miriam Kramer: Like Space X is a huge contractor for NASA. They are deeply involved in the Artemis program because they’re building the lunar lander for it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that’s such a helpful clarification. It’s really not that they are pitted against each other. That’s sort of like what’s being portrayed. 


Miriam Kramer: Yeah, I mean, I think that folks like to see it sort of as this race. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Miriam Kramer: Between these companies and NASA, but really it’s a much more symbiotic relationship. Like– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. 


Miriam Kramer: NASA wants to use Space X, Space X wants to use NASA like they’re not separate. They’re very much together on it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Gotcha. Okay. So maybe a little a little less adversarial then [laugh] then was originally thought. All right. So what does the future of space travel look like and what is at stake here for NASA? 


Miriam Kramer: I think that one thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about with this launch is that it really does sort of symbolize this regime change in space. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Miriam Kramer: Like what you were talking about before, the way that the SLS was built. The experts I’ve spoken to don’t think that that’s really something that’s going to be possible in the future. NASA has traded cost savings for reliability with the SLS, so it needs to work like it needs to work really, really well and very consistently. But now attention is turning to companies like Space X that do build really good rockets, good technology for much cheaper. So we’re sort of seeing this transition in the space industry. And then the only other thing I’ll say is just that the stakes are really high for the SLS. It has to work well, and if it doesn’t, it imperils all of NASA’s Moon to Mars plans, which have stretched over the course of multiple administrations. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Miriam Kramer: So the attention on this launch is appropriate. [laughing]


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. 


Miriam Kramer: That’s what I’ll say. Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Axios space reporter Miriam Kramer. And that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. 




Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Canadian police say one suspect is dead and another is still on the loose following a series of stabbings that left ten people dead and 18 others injured over the weekend. Authorities say that the attacks took place in an Indigenous community in Saskatchewan. The two suspects are brothers. 31 year old Damien Sanderson was found dead Monday in an area near where the stabbings took place, while 30 year old Myles Sanderson remains at large. And as of our recording time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, investigators have not yet determined a motive for these attacks. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The United Kingdom has a new prime minister. Conservative Liz Truss was officially appointed this week to replace Boris Johnson. Truss is now the third female prime minister in Britain’s history and she won by a small margin among her party’s leadership over her opponent, Rishi Sunak. If you recall, Sunak was the first member of Johnson’s cabinet to resign over the party gate scandal, sparking the mass exodus that led to Johnson’s ouster from leadership in July. Truss also worked for Johnson during his tenure as foreign secretary, but she wasn’t a part of the movement to push him out. Political experts say Truss’s loyalty to Johnson ultimately gave her the upper hand. Truss will be expected to tackle several pressing issues, including double digit inflation, rising household energy costs and a potential economic recession. In her first speech as prime minister yesterday, Truss said that she plans to reveal a, quote unquote “bold plan later this week to lower taxes and revive the economy”. But critics are skeptical that she can deliver on that promise. I have to say, I do love the energy of saying I have great ideas. I’m going to tell them to you at a later date. But they are so good and so bold. 


Priyanka Aribindi: A quick update from the West where California dreaming gave way a long time ago to California heat related hallucinating. Record triple digit temperatures continue across the Golden State and they aren’t expected to abate until this weekend. Energy operators in the state have asked residents to conserve power to avoid overexerting the grid. Officials said that the electrical load yesterday afternoon was the highest ever seen as everyone with an air conditioner wore out the buttons on the remote, turning it up. The heat is contributing to deadly wildfires as well. Fires over the weekend killed a total of four people across the state while 4000 firefighters battled to keep the blazes under control. Really not good. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The people of Chile rejected a new progressive constitution on Sunday, dealing a huge blow to leftist president Gabriel Boric and his party. The proposal was defeated by a nearly 2 to 1 margin in an election where voting was mandatory for all citizens. And the idea was to replace the Constitution that former President Augusto Pinochet enacted over 40 years ago during his authoritarian regime. Among many other progressive reforms, Boric’s new constitution, promised Chileans free housing, education and health care, and it established Indigenous territories as self-governing bodies. But critics argue that the new proposal was way too disorganized and vague to sign off on. The silver lining here is that the majority of Chileans do agree that their constitution needs a progressive makeover, just not the one that was on the ballot. And President Boric said on Sunday that he and his Cabinet plan to revise the proposal before putting it up to a vote again. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Juul paid homage to the cigarette companies that came before it yesterday by agreeing to an absolutely massive settlement for false advertising. The e-cig manufacturer will hand over $438.5 million dollars to dozens of states which claim that the company ignited the teenage vaping crisis through deceptive and targeted marketing. Nowadays, Juul markets itself mostly as a way for adults to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. But before the federal government began its crackdown on Juul in 2019, the company appealed much more directly to young people using young models, sweet flavors, free samples and funding education programs in schools. Okay, sad state of affairs if we are relying– 


Josie Duffy Rice: Truly. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –On Juul to uh educate the youth. Under the terms of the settlement, Juul would be far more restricted in the ways it can market its products. Hopefully they will not be sponsoring fetal pig dissections or uh whatever other educational activities they were doing in the schools. I think Juul can be banned, that would be great. The company did not admit to any wrongdoing, though they pretty much already did that the first time someone blew out a cloud of mango vape smoke. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And lastly, a quick check in on the awards beat for fans of little gold statues. The Creative Arts Emmys were this weekend ahead of the more high profile primetime Emmy Awards next Monday, when the real Slim Shady stood up to accept his award for performing in this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, he added to his collection, which already includes an Oscar and a bunch of Grammys, meaning he is now one Tony Award away from achieving EGOT status. Eminem probably isn’t the person you think of when considering entertainment’s second highest honor after being made into a hologram after you die. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely wasn’t. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I do see him as a hologram, though. I can see that. [laugh] Three others also achieved E-G-O or EGO at this year’s Creative Arts Emmys, setting them up against Eminem in an all out brawl to dominate Broadway. Those three were Adele for her special Adele One Night Only. Plus, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr for producing The Beatles Get Back. I got to say, of those four options Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Adele, and Eminem, I’m putting his chances of EGOT-ing at number four. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Didn’t know they were handing out Emmys for the Super Bowl halftime show. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I didn’t either. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines. One more thing before we go. Fall is right around the corner and nothing gets us ready for the season like a good cup of coffee. So Crooked Coffee is having its first ever sale to help you make it through these shorter days and long to do list that we all have coming up. Now through this Sunday, September 11th. You can get free shipping when you spend $35 or more. Just use code FUEL UP at checkout. As always, every Crooked coffee order supports Register Her, an organization that works to register and activate millions of women across the country to vote. Head over to and stock up on some delicious dark or medium roast while supplies last. That is That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Achieve EGOT status and tell your friends to listen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just 50,000 word essays on Don’t Worry Darling drama like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


[spoken together] And apologize for mango vape smoke Juul. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Truly. 


Priyanka Aribindi: God. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That was honestly when things started to go downhill. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Shit, I never put two and two together. But now that you have, everything seems to be falling into place. Wow. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Truly. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m rethinking the whole last few years of my life. [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martínez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.