Starbase Texas has certainly been hit by some severe weather over the past week. Sheriff Eric announces here that Highway 4 has been closed due to the arctic blast.
There are still plenty of things we can see that are worth diving into, however, as SpaceX prepares for its next set of steady fires. First, the Macy’s site is now a constant hive of activity. This has certainly been an area of focus for SpaceX over the past few months.
Just last week, Starship Gazer captured the latest test tank, Ship 26.1, which is being actively tested at Kane Crusher. RGV captured some great aerial footage of the venue’s progress and here are some of the things that stood out to me. A new concrete pad is being built here amid much work to level the area near the Rio Grande River.
Concrete pouring was already underway between this drone flight and the next. In a new flight in the middle of the week, it is already equipped with instruments, just see the difference. The tank farm is clearly expanding and thought long enough, we believed it would become a raptor test site like the McGregor site.
Actually as a side note, NASASpaceFlight recently captured the Raptor vacuum engine exploding on the horizontal test stand. It appears to have taken itself apart right after ignition, so it doesn’t look like a deliberate test for destruction.
I think it would be neat if they also built a Raptors test stand in place of Macy’s. As testing of the Adom and S26.1 test tanks has already indicated, SpaceX may not need to shut down Highway 4 while these prototypes are being evaluated.
This reason makes the Raptor ideal for testing separately from future test vehicles if they do not perform perfectly to specifications. Now if this proves to be the Raptor Test Facility, they don’t just need nitrogen. They also need liquid methane and oxygen. With the three tanks set up on the stand here, I’m still trying to determine how they’ll configure it in the future.
For now three are already filled with liquid nitrogen, and we have three more waiting to be installed on their new rugs. At least some of these are likely to be designated for liquid oxygen, as observed by the Starship gazer during delivery to the site.
Now that only methane comes out, SpaceX may have plans to replace some of the nitrogen tanks already installed, or they may take delivery of some more. Another cryogenic test was performed on Booster 9 at the launch site. Then, Frost was seen on a liquid oxygen tank for the first time! This time it is only a matter of time before it is found in the bottom of the tank.
Although after that, too big a load for the methane tank. With this quite an impressive amount coming up to almost three quarters. The probe resumed and continued as the Sun set below the horizon. Work on future vehicles continued very well, with Booster 10’s liquid oxygen tank section now 20 rings long, and only the thrust section needed.
It received its downcomer earlier this week, feeding liquid methane via liquid oxygen tanks. I always love looking at that huge tube. Here’s a look at it with humans on either side for scale. One of those shots that really puts the size of these components into perspective. Very soon we will have three complete boosters ready for testing.
So based on Starship’s development in 2022, I’d like to hear from you what you think 2023 holds for us. Are we going to see the first successful orbital flight in the first quarter? within the first half? Definitely sometime in 2023 right? I have my own opinion but I am interested in yours.
On the home stretch with the 60th SpaceX launch and final Starlink launch slated for 2022. Here sitting atop the Falcon 9, another batch of 54 broadband Internet satellites was assigned to a new orbit recently licensed for Version 2 satellites.
Lifted off from SLC-40 on Wednesday morning, the Falcon 9 rocketed skyward on a skyward trajectory. Shortly thereafter, main engine cut-off, stage separation and fairing jettison were all happening rapidly here, with the core stage now on its way to try and stick its 11th landing on its 11th flight.
The weather conditions were looking very bad for the droneship “A Shortfall of Gravitas”, about 660km downrange. You could not see the ship at all until about 100 meters after landing. It seemed like a challenge that one, and was slightly off center, but safely short.
The webcast ended minutes after Twitter announced the deployment. But what was still a bit unknown was whether or not there was a notable difference with these satellites. They definitely look the same as ever. Compare this to previous launches and I don’t see any difference.
Then of course, the final launch for 2022. This time hovering over the country’s west coast at Vandenberg Space Force Base. A SpaceX Falcon 9 is loaded with the first of two Earth Resource Observation satellites. The first C3-1 on this launch is part of the NG Group. Its companion satellite C3-2, weighing around 400 kg, will not actually be launched until 2026.
The final countdown of the year will begin shortly after 1:00 p.m. ET on Friday, December 30. As the Falcon 9 roars into the night sky again, Booster 1061 is also on its 11th flight. After the main engine cut off, the second stage went into its target orbit, the booster spun up and headed back to Vandenberg. Yes. It was another great return to landing site mission.
Sadly, due to the darkness, there is no interesting footage of the return. Often we see some ground cameras that see the booster coming down, but here only the on board and pad cameras see the touch down. You would have actually noticed how small the satellite was at the time of deployment.
A smaller unit shown here in animation prior to launch. Satellite deployment in about 15 minutes in the mission. And there we had it. 61st launch of the year for SpaceX. Last one for 2022, and based on a tweet from earlier this year, 2023 will be even busier. It is expected that there is still a target of 100 launches.
Soon though, the emphasis will almost certainly be on total payload in orbit, not launch frequency, as the new benchmark. With Starship brought into service, payload mass in orbit will be the real metric that could blow all other years out of the water.