Inside Out: Listen to Liftoff With Main Engine Cut Off

Inside Out: Listen to Liftoff With Main Engine Cut Off

We make tools for artists because we’re artists ourselves, so side projects are especially important at Big Cartel. Inside Out features projects that feed our creative appetites outside of work.

Anthony Colangelo is an integral part of Big Cartel's Engineering team, where he handles all things related to Big Cartel for iOS. In his spare time, he's quite the space enthusiast and you'll find him at many shuttle launches, in the path of totality, or on his podcast, Main Engine Cut Off.

What’s Main Engine Cut Off all about?

I’ve always been a huge spaceflight and exploration nerd, so last year I started a project to put that nerdiness to good use. Main Engine Cut Off is a short, weekly podcast and a blog where I share my opinions on all that is happening in the space industry. I’m generally talking about what private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are up to, as well as what governmental agencies like NASA and ESA are working on.

Where can we see more about Main Engine Cut Off?

Head over to to read the blog and hear the podcast. You’ll also find the podcast wherever you listen - Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, and the like. Or follow along on Twitter - @WeHaveMECO.

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What's your favorite thing about working on it?

I’m going to cheat and name two.

First, the people I get to interact with are incredible. From engineers at just about every big and small company working on spacecraft and launch vehicles, to scientists working with data coming back from Mars rovers and probes beyond Pluto, to people shaping policy within NASA, everyone involved is doing something extraordinarily inspiring. And I’m lucky enough to get to know them!

Second, I’m able to experience one of my absolute favorite things in life - space launches - with a front row seat.

Being at a launch of any spacecraft is a truly life-changing experience - even more so when you’re seeing people leave Earth. It shifts your perspective and gives you a tiny bit of the so-called Overview Effect. It may sound cheesy, but it’s a whole-body experience - you’re out in picturesque nature (launch sites are pretty remote) watching a rocket lift off and head to space. The engine exhaust is blindingly bright even during the day, and looks like an artificial sunrise during a night launch. And the sound is overwhelming - it’s got this signature ripping-the-sky-apart sound that rumbles the ground for tens of miles around, and physically shakes you.

It’s a powerful experience that you can’t quite put to words, but the first time you attend a launch, you’ll be hooked for life.

What's one thing you wish people knew about your project?

When people think of space, they think of the 1960s Space Race, the Apollo missions, and the Space Shuttle. With such great achievements to look back on, it’s easy to feel like the best is behind us. But we are living in the golden age of spaceflight and exploration.

We’ve explored every large body from the Sun to Pluto, and several probes are racing out of the Solar System into interstellar space. We’ve landed on comets, asteroids, and are even driving Jeep-sized rovers on Mars right this minute. And the most exciting thing by far in this new era: SpaceX is making history and changing the face of the industry by landing and relaunching their rockets.

See what else the Big Cartel team is up to these days.

23 October 2017

Words by:Andy Newman

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