Today we’re talking all talk of starship development as usual, but out there was the big news that this week too, for not just one mission this year, but another two missions in the future, we’ll have Jared Isacman as a new crew.
it is too big! Plus, an in progress cargo mission to the space station with some interesting information, and a Starlink update as we look forward to the flight later this week. Okay, so, for the first time in nearly six months, SpaceX has completely stacked a new Starship to its full height. Yes! It’s Ship 22, completely stacked at the end.
On Sunday afternoon Booster 7’s methane tank was diverted from highbay and into midbay to make room for what was originally intended to take Ship 21’s nosecone inside. That nose cone was soon attached to a bridge crane and the next day, the tank section of Ship 22 was rolled into the high bay for nose cone stacking.
The nose cone was then raised and crossed, then lowered onto ship 22 for mating later that night. Now I want to say that I know the reason, but I don’t know why SpaceX decided to connect the tank section of Ship 22 to the nosecone of Ship 21 when they already completed the tank section of Ship 21 Was.
Ship 21 began final assembly in mid-October last year, with both its tank section and nose section separately completed in less than a month. We then of course thought that they would link these two sections together to make a complete ship. But then SpaceX has given up on those separate assemblies for the past three months.
What’s unusual is that SpaceX actually started stacking Ship 22 about a week after the separate sections of Ship 21 were completed. I mean, it makes sense for SpaceX to drop a vehicle rather than use a newer version, although we know that major upgrades like the change from Raptor 1 to Raptor 2 weren’t coming until Ship 24.
So based on that, Ship 21 was probably very similar to Ship 22. Could there have been a problem with Ship 21 that didn’t allow them to dismantle that vehicle? Let me know what you think. With regards to Ship24, its nose cone has started receiving TPS tiles this week.
This is actually the first time that the new smooth generation nosecons have got TPS tiles. In addition, the aft section of Ship 24 was attached with a crane on Wednesday and lifted onto the forward section of Booster 8 the next day. This prompted a phase separation and clamp test to ensure that each section was all AOK before being connected to their respective vehicles.
Also at the construction site, Ship 25’s forward barrel was spotted which is the first confirmed piece for a new ship. However, looking at the Brendan diagram here, there are actually some unconfirmed parts that may well be to the Ship 25, such as this generic dome that was sleeved and then flipped over earlier in the week.
The next and final level of the Wide Bay would soon begin when the crane was lowered to the ground at the construction site to achieve a 12-metre extension on its jib to be able to lift the sections for the 5th level. And yes, the first section of the 5th level was lifted on Thursday over the rest of the structure.
It won’t be long until we see the main structure completed. Now at last week’s Starship presentation we were shown a new animation and after taking a closer look at some of the details on the booster you may have noticed the white gridfin. A few weeks back these grid fins for Booster 7 were seen in raw stainless steel like all previous boosters.
Last week, RGV Aerial Photography noticed that they have been painted white to match what we see in animation. Ship 20 has been removed from Booster 4 at the launch site and following last week’s presentation. The ship was decommissioned on Monday morning and the arms of the tower were attached to the ship.
SpaceX began lifting it from Booster 4 a few hours later. The quick disconnect arm then moved out of the way to allow the ship and weapons to pass. It was then rotated to evacuate Booster 4 and then lowered to the ground to touch down safely on the transport stand.
Elon Musk then shared this footage of different stages and then a timelapse of Ship 20 landing. Another beautiful shot there. Then on Wednesday morning in the middle of the week an announcement was heard on the PA system asking Ship 20 to cryo-proof the pads in 1 hour.
The vehicle then underwent a pressure vent cycle with possibly gaseous nitrogen for the next few hours. Then just before 3 p.m. air began to blow into the orbital tank farm and a frost line began to form on the walls of the locks tank, indicating that the vehicle was being loaded.
The trial ended and the road reopened just before 7 pm. The next morning we heard that the same announcement was made on the PA and the same test was done again. After a long wait, we have finally delivered methane to the orbital tank farm for the first time.
About five months ago SpaceX began the process of filling and testing 2 liquid nitrogen and 3 liquid oxygen custom-built propellant storage tanks, however, there was no point when the two methane tanks were tested or filled with fuel. SpaceX completed the primary structure of the Orbital Tank Farm in October last year.
SpaceX also installed two pre-built horizontal methane tanks. While final work on the liquid oxygen and nitrogen tanks was being completed, tested and at least partially filled, work on the vertical methane tanks came to a halt.
SpaceX designed and built the orbital tank farm without following Texas regulations for the storage of liquefied natural gas and methane. The two vertical tanks were clearly in violation of a number of regulations, including the requirement that all methane storage tanks be surrounded by six-foot-long retaining walls, as well as other minimum clearance regulations that the two vertical methane tanks do not.
There has been a lot of ruckus on this for months but nothing has been officially announced. Anyway, we believe why we haven’t seen those vertical tanks filled with methane, and why this week SpaceX began receiving deliveries of methane to fill two horizontal tanks.
Now the Federal Aviation Administration has again this week announced a delay of another month on the Programmatic Environmental Assessment for SpaceX’s Orbital Starship flights at Boca Chica. Now that means we certainly won’t hear about any approvals until at least April 28th.
It’s unlikely this will cause any additional problems for SpaceX as there’s a lot of work to be done anyway before the flight attempt can be attempted. Based on Elon’s comments at the presentation last week, we know there’s a lot of work going on with Raptor 2 and Orbital Tank Farm. And we also know that a lot of work is going to start on the facility in parallel at the Cape.
While the delay in any orbital flight test may be disappointing, there are doubts that it will slow SpaceX. The coming few months are going to be very interesting. Just a quick mention as well “The rocket launched by Elon Musk in 2015 is set to hit the Moon.
Which was a very bogus headline that made global news a few weeks back, which didn’t really mean much to me. A great deal of this certainly leads to SpaceX heavily criticizing this kind of space debris, which is insane considering that most of the time they deflect and dispose of the Falcon 9’s second stage or at least put them in orbit.