According to a video, Awesome details to share on the development of Starship, a record-breaking Falcon 9 flight, the disaster for the Vega C launch, and many other issues aboard the International Space Station. Here’s what the plan is for after the Soyuz is hit by space debris.
Last week, after a fire broke out at the stables, some of its tiles had once again fallen. Underneath the aft flaps you can see them missing. If we compare these images side by side, you can see that emotion is being felt now. As Musk has said in the past, they fully expect some heat shield tiles to fall off during a static fire.
Which for these tiles probably results in reflected and upward vibrations from the concrete. The same tiles had also fallen during the fire in six engines some time back. There were also a few more tiles dropped here, where SpaceX added that new weld doubler in recent work. They moved very quickly to install these new tiles as quickly as possible.
It looks much better, doesn’t it? Now, this is definitely one of the top 5 questions I get asked. Will these heat shield tiles work? Look, it’s hard to say with certainty when flight and re-entry testing will be required. And these are all very different forces from steady fire.
Personally, I’d love to see SpaceX fly some stripped down prototypes this year, go as fast as they can go and dump them in the ocean as soon as possible to get real data on the tiles. I may be a bit optimistic but overall it seems like the Tiles are getting better and better with every test.
I’m wondering if it could be that the extra thickness of that weld doubler is resulting in these tiles not clicking in completely. Speaking of these new welds, they aren’t the only thing installed on the Ship 24’s skirt to prevent buckling. You probably recognize all these vertical weld lines that connect the stringers on the inside.
And then there’s these two areas, which are right where the lower flap motor hardware attaches. SpaceX actually needed to remove some internal supports to make enough space. The last major reinforcement hardware to appear is the reinforcement belt, which ensures that all forces can be properly passed through the unpressurized skirt in pressurized tanks.
Now in case you’re wondering, the function of that belt is the same as you see on a booster, but those stringers actually complicate the thermal protection onboard. Okay so let’s move on to Booster 9 at the Booster Cryostation. Shortly after arriving at the station last week, SpaceX deployed two cryogenic flex hoses to begin the test drive.
The road was closed at 8 am on Wednesday. Some tests were underway, but not for Ship 24. This was very apparent on the suborbital pad as were the stars all around it. A considerable amount of frost was observed over the liquid oxygen tank during the course of an hour. After testing, it definitely separated, but interestingly, the vehicle didn’t do any depressurizing venting that far into the detanking process.
With an orbital launch, there is no option to pump the cryogenic liquid back into this setup, so it is released in a controlled manner over time. It was time to activate the methane side of the tankfarm and frost soon appeared on the top methane tank, forming quite an impressive frost line, eventually filling about two thirds of the main tank.
After some time the search operation was started again, after which the road was reopened in the night and later the booster was depressurized. I’d say this was really the first test of Booster 9! In addition to the berm that now protects the Orbital Fuel Farm, I talked about the new expansion on top last week.
There’s a bunch of concrete work going on that will most likely involve this new pipe. We believe this is to offload any oxygen or nitrogen that may not flow from the booster back to the tank farm. As we get closer to Starship’s first orbital launch, I’m sure we’re going to see a variety of tests with all of these systems.
Some are probably more visible than others. A great example from this week are these retraction tests involving both the booster quick disconnect as well as the ship quick disconnect arm. A few months ago, SpaceX also performed a booster QD retraction test during the Booster 7 cryo test. SpaceX has recently upgraded how they seal the quick disconnect plates at the launch site to prevent the entry of foreign object debris.
That upgrade has been added to the ship quick disconnect on suborbital pad A as well as the booster quick disconnect. I’m sure eventually all quick disconnects will have a plate that looks like this. Now, as I’m sure you all know, SpaceX has a lot of locations spread across the United States. One of these places that really amazes me is this new SpaceX factory that we internally call “Project Echo.”
In these aerial shots taken by Joe Tegtmeyer, we can see that the outer shell is almost gone here. The massive factory covers more than half a million square feet and is only slightly smaller than SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne. For such a large facility, its purpose remains a bit of a mystery, but with several scaling projects underway there is a wide range of possibilities.
Of course we’ll keep our eyes open for any news of the delivery of specific hardware that might indicate its purpose, such as Starlink version 2 satellite construction. If you’re interested in more regular info on these fast-growing Texas factories, last week I talked about two new pieces potentially headed for another set of chopsticks.
It still makes sense, since the pieces from the other car were even closer. Interestingly, we see these two small pillars in the minaret sections. Now maybe SpaceX is reorganizing the layout of the previous tower sections again. This is a size that we haven’t seen in the construction of the tower for Starbase Texas, or in the construction of the tower on LC-39A.
Now, it’s that time of year as we head towards the end of 2022, and just like last year, the spaceflight super eclectic artist is at it again with KidsDrawRockets. The idea of course is that kids from all over the world submit their drawings to be transformed by the many talented artists out there.
I think it’s safe to say they’ve gone above and beyond here. It’s a great inspiration for the kids following the industry, and it’s a great way to send holiday wishes to the cast of spaceflight, too. I chatted with a few artists, and it’s clear to me that this event is one of the things they look forward to the most every year.
More Falcon 9 action again this week and a record breaking booster on this Starlink mission and would you believe it’s been almost 2 months since the last Starlink launch? SpaceX has been busy launching with so many customer and government contracts that it took so long to get back to Starlink. There are nine other flights in between though, so SpaceX certainly isn’t slowing down.
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Here we had the Falcon 9 on pad 39A less than 34 hours after the SWOT and O3b mission. Yes, it was time for SpaceX’s 59th flight of the year and another 54 Starlink satellites to go into orbit. The lighting conditions for this launch were very good considering the time of day.
The land here lit up in the backdrop of the ascent. I prefer to speed up the climb footage only because the exhaust expands as the atmosphere thins. It was a record breaking landing time with main engine cut off and stage separation. This was Booster 1058’s 15th flight and landing. The booster with the NASA worm logo that first launched the Crew Dragon Demo 2 mission with Bob and Doug on board.
The logo here is now completely hidden somewhere under a very dark layer. Remarkable service life It has helped deploy more than 700 different spacecraft. I just have to point out the beautiful uninterrupted footage of a drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean making its way through the atmosphere for another successful touch down on Just Read The Instructables.
Almost seamlessly except for the camera switching directly on touchdown. As usual in these missions there was no coverage of the payload deployment but it was later confirmed on social media. What else was shared though? Well, here SpaceX mentions that Starlink now has over 1,000,000 active customers.
On the subject of Starlink satellites, a few weeks ago the Federal Communications Commission granted partial approval to Starlink to put 7,500 Starlink Version 2 satellites into orbit. Now SpaceX was requesting 30,000 so I think that will be staged with future approvals. Because these won’t be launching on Starships any time soon, given that the Ship 24 and 25 initial deployment doors are permanently sealed.
As far as we know the plan is still to start launching the modified version 2 on Falcon 9. It was expected to launch before the end of this year, so it is yet to be announced. Now after the many delays caused by the recent Soyuz leak, which we’ll talk about shortly), the ISS as well as the threat caused by space debris need to perform maneuvers to avoid the threat.
Cassada prepares for his spacewalk. At the end of the week the pair emerged from the search airlock for hours of grueling work aimed at installing the fourth of six rolled out solar arrays into the port P4 truss structure. It was the 257th space walk in support of space station assembly, upgrades and maintenance, and their third space walk for both of them.
These new iROSA solar arrays will ultimately increase power generation by 30%, increasing the station’s total available power from 160 kW to 215 kW. Progress was made. They wasted no time in removing iRosa from the carrier assembly after already addressing Tasker.
Skilled operators at the controls of Canadarm2 quickly moved Josh into position, where Frank assisted in securing the solar array assembly to the mounting brackets. Here are some spectacular views of Earth below as the couple strolled around the station. Before long it was time to roll out the array, which is always fun to watch, taking about 9 minutes to fully deploy.
More power generation is now available at the station. With that, all the work was done and it was time to head back for a proper rest. But first, time for general storage of equipment and other equipment, entry into the search airlock and closing of hatches. Two more iRosa solar arrays are yet to be installed. Which will be delivered on the Cargo Dragon resupply mission in 2023.
The actual spacewalk was delayed earlier in the week due to a leak from the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, which is now docked to the space station. I was tempted to cover it last week, although the news was still developing at the time. Briefly though the external radiator cooling system on the Soyuz started leaking, and it’s quite a nail-biting scenario indeed.
Shortly after last week’s video went live, a robotic inspection using Canadarm2 spotted a small hole. The radiator surface around the hole was also discolored, so it was thought that it may have been caused by a small meteorite impact. Now it was rumored that the temperature inside the vehicle started to rise to about 50 °C, but Roscosmos posted here.
After a quick google translate, they denied saying that it was around 30°C instead. The question though is, is this vehicle now unsuitable for crew home travel? There is definitely a fear that a lack of coolant and overheating could cause damage.