In today’s episode, we look at the latest space news, including Starship getting 1,000 new changes ahead of its second test flight, NASA locking a research team in a Martian simulator for a whole year, and Blue Origin building a crew with NASA’s help. capsule development.
NASA Mars Mission
Starship “1000” design changes Starship is facing more than a thousand design changes and will have six weeks to implement them all before another test flight is possible, it was announced on June 24 by SpaceX. The latest confirmation will be by CEO Elon Musk, Elon attended a Twitter Space event.
In a further conversation with author Ashley Vance, the CEO talked about some of the changes that are being made to his company’s Super Heavy Launch Vehicle to ensure a better chance of getting to orbit with the next test. Almost certainly an exaggeration but Musk gives us at least one specific example, hot staging Hot staging is a method of separating a launch vehicle’s stages mid-flight that has been used by most Russian rockets for some time now.
Usually when a vehicle stages engines, before igniting the engines of the upper stage to allow inertial and separation devices to slowly and safely pull the used booster or vehicle section from the upper stage All it takes is a few moments. Instead of continuing with flight hot staging, starting to reduce thrust and then burning the upper stage engines while both stages are still connected allows the vehicle to maintain controlled acceleration.
But to counter this, there is also a risk of your lower stage booster burning up from the force of the upper stage engines. Rockets such as the Soviet N1 had large vents at the separation joint between stages as well as additional shielding under the upper stage engines to protect the boosters, and Elon says the Starship was designed to make the first stage super heavy. The booster is being upgraded with one small detail. Added that this is basically just a reinforced vent, this would allow the upper stage jet plume to be safely redirected outwards and allow for hot staging.
Elon Musk believes this will be the riskiest part of the next launch test, which is reasonable because, if the shielding is not adequate, the booster will likely explode on the first day, taking the payload with it and if any of the upper stages fail. The entire vehicle could be blown up if left standing there, though it’s a nice upgrade to the overall design if SpaceX can get the system right. Starships will find a smooth acceleration curve upon exiting Earth’s atmosphere, which is usually the most difficult part of a launch, and losing an engine makes the effort even more difficult.
During Starship’s first test flight on 20 April, several engines were not operational, either failing to light up or malfunctioning. Taken offline by the SpaceX ground team in response to worrying readings, many observers believe heaps of crushed concrete from the destroyed launch pad played a role in that issue, but Elon pointed to a bigger problem during his chat on Twitter Space. Pointed to, apparently the variety that dictates.
Over-heated methane in the combustion chambers of the ship’s engines caused several leaks during testing, the Super Heavy booster had never before been tested at more than 50 percent power and, as it turned out, overheated at high pressure. The hot gas was on some parts of the ship. Manifolds can handle the problem that occurs around areas where manifolds had to be bolted onto the vessel itself, which is a common place for solutions to leak for fluid systems. Elon says the manifolds themselves had to be redesigned.
The new deluge system was also introduced, a high-pressure shower head-like device that would push water upward from a large steel plate installed under the orbital launch mount. SpaceX watchers have been discussing this system for the past few weeks, so we’re mostly aware of it though only time will tell if it actually prevents the next Starship launch from blasting a huge hole in the Boca Chica sand mud , while those are big changes involving many small adjustments, it hardly costs in the thousands.
However Elon is talking about changes we already know are being implemented on the Starship and Super Heavy designs, such as replacing the old hydraulic control units that had to be replaced on the first Starship launch with new electric ones. was abolished for the units. Done, this is a fairly complex change that will resolve some of the issues we’ve seen. On April 20th we saw a lot of testing regarding the flight termination system at SpaceX’s test range in Massey Texas.
At least it looks like the FDS is not working the way it should have been in April, which was probably the most worrying thing about the hardware. Day’s failure and if SpaceX hopes to secure another launch license from the FAA, they will have to look into this and finally we’re also seeing interesting hardware variations from the new models of Starship coming out of the Star Factory, a strange new Internal structure is being observed.
Blue Origin Update
The Capabilities II initiative aims to help these companies with their space infrastructure and vehicle projects, and when we discussed these agreements just last week, there was a contract we were working on with a Blue Origin-owned launch company. were doing and wanted to spend some more time. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, like other contracts, does not finance NASA’s partnership with Blue Origin.
Revolves around NASA providing its expertise and research to help the company to some extent, which is an incredible boost to the funding of any space launch company, whether they like it or not. We mentioned that six other companies are being treated similarly, so what sets Blue Origin’s contracts apart is that NASA is giving Blue Origin access to a high-frequency American orbit to provide a crew Giving the right to develop the vehicle.
NASA currently has three crewed vehicles. The Orion capsule built by NASA, the Crew Dragon built by SpaceX and the Soyuz built by the Russian space agency Ross Cosmos for use in orbit for their missions, but they have invested in other vehicles such as the Dream Chaser space plane built by Sierra Space. And the problem with the Boeing NASA-built Starliner crew capsule is that the Orion isn’t really intended for rapid use because it’s an exploration craft built for the Artemis mission and the Soyuz has been designed since the late 1960s.
Russia’s growing unreliability is actually the reason NASA is working with Dragon for things like crew transfers to the ISS. Dream chasers may change that but they are still months away from a possible flight test and Boeing has been keeping its Starliner capsule around for so long. Struggling to make things work at a time when NASA is possibly starting to look elsewhere and technically that’s where Blue Origin comes in, the company has two crew-rated vehicles.
New Shepard and the Blue Moon, their prototype lunar lander that has recently been contracted to carry Artemis five astronauts to the surface of the Moon, New Shepard is possibly closer. However what NASA is looking for with this partnership is that New Shepard flew 22 successful missions before failing in September 2022 as part of the Sub-Orbital Launch System, and the Launch Escape System in that instance Was able to bring the capsule to safety.
Even though it has a pretty good track record, NASA may need something more than a sub-orbital tourist capsule and it is possible that Blue Origin is working on something that is more suited to orbital work. Their heavy lift rocket, the new Glenn, is almost ready for its test. launch and it was designed to carry payloads and vehicles like the Blue Moon Lander into space, it’s a pretty good bet that Blue Origin can build an orbit-capable crew capsule.
Especially if NASA helps, there is no longer any guarantee that this partnership will suddenly turn into something else. Origin certainly has the resources to compete with SpaceX in this area, most importantly their plans already include partnerships with Sierra Space and Boeing, they are looking for such non-funded contracts Can be They are a good company to use and if Boeing ever gets the Starliner working properly so will NASA.
With rapid deployment capsules ready for a crew of three and access to a space plane to boot, that ain’t bad stable, Stay tuned here every week for more updates on everything related to the aerospace industry and interstellar exploration.