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SPACE 3: Rocket Shopping

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

We've secured our satellite. And while that's pretty cool, we're not quite there yet. We need a rocket. That used to require a having a space agency, like NASA. We don't have a space agency at NPR. But luckily for us, space is a business now, with commercial operators vying for customers. And space companies are actually battling for our business. They want to be the company that takes us to the stars.

This week on the show, it's time for rocket shopping. We go from a startup in New Zealand, 3D-printing rocket engines, to one of the established players in the space business. And just like any big ticket purchase, we had some decisions to make. We could pick the Volvo of rockets: reliable, but not the most glamorous. Or we can take a risk with a fun, little sports car. We weigh the options, and prepare for liftoff.

Music: "Disco Junkie" and "Come And Take It." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/Instagram

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Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stacey Vanek Smith is the co-host of NPR's The Indicator from Planet Money. She's also a correspondent for Planet Money, where she covers business and economics. In this role, Smith has followed economic stories down the muddy back roads of Oklahoma to buy 100 barrels of oil; she's traveled to Pune, India, to track down the man who pitched the country's dramatic currency devaluation to the prime minister; and she's spoken with a North Korean woman who made a small fortune smuggling artificial sweetener in from China.
Elizabeth Kulas is a producer on Planet Money. Before that, she produced shows at WNYC, Gimlet and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In 2016, she was part of the NPR team that reported on the Wells Fargo banking scandal. That reporting won a George Foster Peabody Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award and a Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Before falling in love with making audio, she studied Art History and German, with a focus on life in the former East Germany. She graduated from The University of Melbourne in her native Australia, with stints at Barnard College, New York and Berlin's Free University. Right now, she's entirely obsessed with space.
Robert Smith is a host for NPR's Planet Money where he tells stories about how the global economy is affecting our lives.