NASA Podcasts

NASA/NOAA GOES-O Behind The Scenes With A Rocket Scientist
› View Now
Music Intro.

Silvia Stoyanova/NASA Goddard TV: We are at Cape Canaveral’s Air Force Station and this behind me is launch pad 37. Just in a few days NASA will launch the next GOES satellite on the Delta IV rocket. Right next to me is Russel Taub. He is the Chief Engineer for the United Launch Alliance for the Delta IV rocket.

So, Russ, could you please point to the key elements that we see from here and explain what we see?

Russel Taub/ULA Delta IV Chief Engineer: Sure Silvia, behind us here we have the bottom end of the first stage, which is this large orange round cylinder here and attached to it are two solid motors that will all light off on T-0 on the day of launch.

Silvia Stoyanova/NASA Goddard TV: That was going to be my next question; what is it that we are going to see on the day of launch?

Russel Taub/ULA Delta IV Chief Engineer: On the day of launch, up above we have the swing arms that are going to pull back from the rocket before it leaves the pad and then you will see a bunch of flame coming back the back end, a lot of smoke, and then gradually the rocket will lift off and it will go straight up into the air.

Silvia Stoyanova/NASA Goddard TV: So, after launch, how long before the spacecraft is actually separated from the launch vehicle?

Russel Taub/ULA Delta IV Chief Engineer: Oh, from the time we lift off, it’s a little over hours before the spacecraft is set free from the rocket so it’s a fairly long ride.

Silvia Stoyanova/NASA Goddard TV: How do you actually test the launch vehicle to make sure that it places the spacecraft in its orbit?

Russel Taub/ULA Delta IV Chief Engineer: Well, it gets a lot of testing at the factory but the final testing all gets done here at the launch site and we test all the systems out; the electrical, the hydraulic, the pneumatic systems to make sure they are working. We also put the fuels on board prior to the day of launch to make sure that’s all working correctly.

Silvia Stoyanova/NASA Goddard TV: If you were to use simple comparisons, how tall is this rocket, if you were to just explain to anybody on the street?

Russel Taub/ULA Delta IV Chief Engineer: Well, anybody on the street I think has seen a space shuttle so this rocket is a little over 200ft tall, compared to a shuttle, which is about a 185ft tall, so it’s a little taller than a shuttle but not as fat as a shuttle.

Silvia Stoyanova/NASA Goddard TV: So, I guess we could call you a rocket scientist. How long have you been doing this?

Russel Taub/ULA Delta IV Chief Engineer: Oh, I’ve grown into being a rocket scientist over 25 years now. I’ve been working on various different rockets and missiles over the course of my career and it’s been a great life!

Silvia Stoyanova/NASA Goddard TV: This must be very exciting for you, we are close to launch, how does it feel?

Russel Taub/ULA Delta IV Chief Engineer: This feels very exciting, to finally get to the launch day; to finally get here after all the hard work that everybody has put into it…always a little anxiety because you are not sure that it’s going to work perfectly but you’ve done everything you know how to do to make sure that it’s going to work.

Silvia Stoyanova/NASA Goddard TV: Thank you, Russ. So, for more information about the GOES-O mission, for some cool videos and animation, visit

› View Now