Space in 2023, starring Rachael Zisk and Tess Hatch


We’re doing things a little differently this week. Ryan’s taking a step back from his podcast-hosting duties so you can get to know another member of the Payload media machine. Actually, we’re doing things very differently. Today’s episode isn’t a Payload-on-Payload interview. Instead, we brought in a guest host.


Today’s episode is sponsored by Altek Space, which provides custom manufacturing of essential parts and components for rockets and satellites (including SmallSats). Find out more at

Our guest host is Tess Hatch, a former aerospace engineer and current partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, where she invests in all things deep tech with a particular focus on the space industry. She’s backed industry-leading space companies like Spire Global ($SPIR) and Rocket Lab ($RKLB). Today, Tess is coming for Ryan’s job at the helm of Pathfinder.

The interviewee: Payload’s own Rachael Zisk. Rachael joined the Payload team as our fourth employee in the early days of the daily newsletter and has been working to shape our coverage of the space industry ever since. She’s also the author of Parallax, Payload’s weekly newsletter covering all things space science.

This week’s episode runs the gamut from the inner workings of Payload to musings on the future of the space industry. 


  • Rachael’s roots in storytelling 
  • The duck boat photographer to science writer pipeline 
  • Joining Payload as employee #4 
  • The highs and lows of the daily newsletter biz 
  • Two key ways to determine the success of a Payload story 
  • Plus: who Rachael would bring to space, the rocket she would take, and what her next Payload deep dive might cover.


01:12 Intro 
03:05 Origin story…also, what’s a duckboat? 
04:23 Path to becoming a space reporter 
07:06 How’d you end up at Payload? 
10:40 Best part of the job, and where there’s room for improvement 
15:19 Day in the life 
18:26 What makes Payload stand out to its readers? 
21:13 The orbital debris dilemma 
26:35 Why isn’t MEO popular? (MEO = medium Earth orbit) 
26:59 Rachael’s next deep dive topic 
33:05 Predictions for 2023 
36:32 Tess’s thoughts about 2023 
41:34 Common misconception about Payload 
43:43 Rapid fire questions