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SpaceX Broom Sticks, Starbase 1 & 2 updates, SLS Artemis I Rollout, Axiom Space AX-1

SpaceX

There isn’t that much launch activity this week, but that certainly doesn’t mean there’s no shortage of action. Updates on Starbase with some really cool new stuff to share on Boosters 7 and 8 We have a Starlink launch and there’s no shortage of news across the network this week.

NASA is about to advance the Space Launch System preparing for the Artemis mission. A Moon impact makes all the news you’d expect from something that can’t be seen by anyone or anything, and Axiom Space prepares for the AX-1 mission on Crew Dragon.

Last weekend, Booster 7’s aft section was rolled out of the tent, sporting a number of changes including that liquid oxygen header tank inside that section we talked about a few weeks ago as shown by Nick and NASASpaceflight Is.

Nice to see this tank structure exactly where we anticipated it would be. We also see a highly redesigned quick disconnect plate. is the plate that interfaces with the booster on the launch mount to supply propellant, power, and data transfer.

In this section the hydraulic power unit and Composite Overwrap Pressure Vessels or COPV are already installed on the side of this section in a new layout compared to the previous booster. All of this, along with the Raptor 2 supports 33 engine mounts. That section was then rolled into a highbay ready for stacking.

Shortly thereafter, the remaining stack making up Booster 7’s liquid oxygen tank was lifted onto that thrust section, so we have this LOX tank built. Also, thanks to this shot here by Starship Gazer, we can now see these COPVs now line up, with five going up on each side of the vehicle.

There are 13 internal engines on this booster, so they need these 10 COPVs to provide spin up gas for launch, boostback and landing burn. The outer 20 is spun only once at liftoff by a fixed 20 quick disconnect system on the launch table.

So the aero cover of these COPVs was seen by RGV aerial photography in a triangular shape outside the high bay. These look like two big strokes going under the booster on each side as seen in this diagram here. It’s all very different compared to Booster 4.

The great thing is that with all these COPVs stacked in this line, it should only generate less than a quarter of the drag we’d expect from a Booster 4 aero cover. And then it finally happened. On Wednesday night and in the early hours of Thursday morning, Booster 7’s liquid oxygen tank was lifted to the large booster transport stand.

In the meantime its methane tank was driven to the highbay, where we thought it would receive its grid fins. However, an hour after being taken to the highbay, the methane tank was attached to the bridge crane and in the process of being piled up! More exciting news this week as we think about what’s to come for the future orbital starship and its payload.

Got the first glimpse of it. A new unidentified structure was lowered into the nose cone barrel section on Monday. This could possibly be the pathfinder nose cone barrel for future deployment mechanisms. Specifically perhaps for the Starlink version 2 satellites Musk mentioned these will be used in the initial flights.

It could also be assigned to Ship 24, meaning the next ship could be the first to have a payload bay door. I can’t wait to see more on this because how SpaceX is going to test the payload bay is still quite a mystery.

Later in the week, that barrel was then seen receiving the insulation blanket, the layer between the steel and thermal protection system tiles. So yeah, it shouldn’t be too long until we see that section ready with tiles and doors. Near the nose cone tent, a new nose cone was seen before tying the two halves together.

That could very well be for Ship 25, but we’re waiting to see more official signs of it. In addition, the aft dome of Ship 25 was sleeved. The side panels on the wide bay are going up, making the finished look more and more visible.

Simultaneously, two bridge cranes that were spotted well over a month ago, which earlier appeared in yellow, have now been painted white. Interestingly, the normal dome section of Booster 8 was taken to the scrap yard last week after being placed on the second section and was later withdrawn.

So yes, not sure what went wrong there. Possibly a new design change has already made it obsolete or something went wrong, With that said, we’ve looked at its Forward Tank Section No 2 this week, looks like the booster is still progressing. Then on Thursday, a booster Common Dome was sleeved, and this dome is assigned to Booster 9, captured by Mary from NASASpaceflight.

Having said that, Booster 8’s normal dome was just dismantled, it is possible that this label is now out of date and has been reassigned to replace Booster 8’s normal dome. Now, those new two alignment pin structures we talked about in the previous video were tested on the Booster Transport Stand. The two pins were raised up and down and inserted and retracted several times throughout the test.

Just a few minor updates to Starbase at the launch site itself. The tower arms were once again tested, being raised to the top of the tower, with the two arms swinging in and out several times. Then the workload on the Orbital Tank Farm continues.

Then oddly enough, one of the ship’s quick disconnect arm used to stabilize the booster was removed on Thursday for reasons I don’t yet understand. Greg Scott takes to the skies once again to capture the update in Starbase 2 in Florida.

The first phase of the Orbital Launch Mount for SpaceX’s Starship Launch Tower is underway here. We clearly see 5 different construction pads now, and I expect there’s a lot more work to be done with the tower here before it’s rolled out to pad 39a for installation.

As you can see in this latest shot here, foundation work continues here in preparation for Mechazilla 2 to start from the ground up. The idea here would be to get as much work done in this location as possible instead of being interrupted by launch activity all the time.

There’s a water tank looking more full here than a week ago, which we suspect, but I think there’s a big chunk here. Look at the groundwork now compared to just 14 days ago. This entire area has already been cleared and it’s not hard to see why.

This is SpaceX’s plan for the site. Here, laid out roughly, you can see that there is a huge push to develop this proposed building. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see similar work being done here as we see now at Boca’s Starbase.

We’ve had this 7 incredible opportunity to see these views over the cape, so if you’ve been working on Patreon by Greg, that’s going to be amazing. And thanks for that and right here. Thank you so much for watching and supporting me here too.

On Wednesday, another 48 Starlink satellites were thrown into orbit by Falcon 9, which lifted off from SLC 40. This was the fourth launch of the specially designated B1052 booster, therefore significantly younger than the reuse leaders. This was SpaceX’s 10th mission in 2022 and it is only its 10th week. One flight per week is pretty impressive.

Hope this continues. Another flawless lift-off and for this mission, the day was very clear. The footage of Booster Coast after the stage separation until its re-entry burn was just magic. Now SpaceX was actually struggling to get the signal back to check the landing position.

It was the first time I thought SpaceX might have lost one, but sure enough, there it appeared to be lacking Gravitas. The deployment could not be seen due to ground coverage limitations, so they cut the webcast shortly thereafter and announced the success on Twitter.

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