It is over! SpaceX Starship Updates, Falcon Heavy / Ariane 6 updates, Crew 3/2 delays

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Hey, Hey Marcus House with you here.  This week astounding work at Starbase continues 
with the huge push towards the first orbital  flight of Starship, and rapid work continuing 
at the launch and production sites. Blue Origin  loses the legal case against NASA on the Human 
Landing System, but what does that mean? Delays  on Crew 3 for medical reasons and weather.
A few quick updates on Ariane 6 to talk  about which is the successor to Ariane 5.  
Is this next rocket in development going  to compete with the insane innovation going on 
around the world or not? Then we have a flood  of Falcon Heavy launches coming soon. The 
next year is going to be incredibly exciting.  Starting at the build site this week, progress 
of the new wide bay has rapidly sped up with  many pieces of the structure rising up 
into the air. Based on aerial views by  the incredible RGV Aerial Photography, the wide 
bay’s dimensions measure roughly 50 meters wide,  35 meters deep, and 90 to 100 meters tall. This 
provides more than twice as much floor space as  the current high bay next to it with enough room 
for SpaceX to stack 3 to 4 four Ship or Booster  tank sections at once. This will rapidly increase 
the production capacity of these vehicles.  Progress on future ships has also continued 
with Ship 22’s thrust section being flipped  to its correct orientation and that is now ready 
for stacking. Its middle liquid oxygen section  was also spotted covered with the insulation 
blanket layer. This sits between the steel and  the tiles and is an added layer of protection 
against the heat during reentry, which would  help to continue insulating that area somewhat 
if the vehicle loses a tile or two in flight.  Most notably, the Nosecone Barrel for the 
same ship was spotted with the label here  showing that this is 3. 6mm steel rather than the 
typical 4mm. This is going to help with overall  dry mass. Terrific views of all this there 
by Nic and Mary with NASASpaceFlight.  Now we recently saw the B2. 1 test tank 
lifted onto the booster test stand. This  test article is all about checking to 
see if the steel structure will hold up  to the massive forces it will need to. It 
is going to simulate the thrust of the 20  outer raptor engines. We know this, 
because we can see these 20 hydraulic rams  spaced around the bottom of the structure 
similar to what we’ve seen in the past  when testing the ship engine mount points on the 
thrust puck. Over the past few months we’ve seen  people using the nickname “Can Crusher” for this 
test stand and it isn’t too difficult to see why.   The thrust from 20 Raptors, with each producing 
around 185 metric tons of thrust, adds up to  around 3700 metric tonnes of force. It will be 
very interesting to see how these tests perform.  Over at the launch complex, work has been 
steadily progressing as teams continue to  prepare the launch pad and Booster 4 for 
its test campaign. Early in the week,  Raptor 57 was delivered to the launch site to be 
installed onto the booster. Work also continues  on the metal heat shield structure placed around 
the engines to protect the delicate plumbing and  electric components incorporated into the 29 
closely packed engines. Furthermore the Composite  overwrapped pressure vessel or COPV tanks have 
recently received a thermal insulation blanket  around them in preparation for these new aero 
covers to be installed on top. Those covers  were recently spotted by RGV, lined up next 
to each other on the ground next to Booster 4. Close by while the rented LR 11350 crane was 
being disassembled, SpaceX’s own LR11000 crane  continued having its parts delivered to 
the launch site and as new parts arrived,  they were promptly put together. We’ll be seeing 
this crane ready for action before you know it. Over at the orbital launch tower, the 
cable chain that was installed last week  has now been connected to the carriage to feed 
power and hydraulics to the catching arms.   Additional hardware has been attached to the 
bottom of the chopstick arms as well. These  seem to be attached by a hinge which provides 
it the ability to swing up and inward towards  either the ship or the booster. The trouble 
with catching the vehicle on two hard points  is that there is still one uncontrolled degree 
of freedom, where the ship or booster is able to  swing parallel to the arms. This is obviously not 
ideal for precision stacking. It’s believed that  these additions are the start of a fixture to lock 
into those lower hard hardpoints to provide total  control of the vehicle while stacking. In fact if 
we look over at Booster 5 where it is currently  undergoing stacking in the Highbay, we may have 
already spotted the start of these new longer  hardpoints. By zooming in and counting 6 1/2 
rings straight down from the catching hardpoint,  you’ll see the lower hardpoint for the booster 
here. We also expect this same system used for  the lifting of ships. Speaking of the tower 
systems, early in the week this part was delivered  to the launch site posted on twitter by Owe with 
the photo taken by Golden boy. The speculation  here suggests that this could serve as a hose 
guide for the ship’s quick disconnect system.   This would allow transfer of the propellent 
and power from the tower to the ship. ErcX on twitter posted an animation here 
of a Possible Spin Separation Method for  Starship showing the vehicle 
pitching up before cutting off.   ErcX stated that the movement and velocity 
may be off however Elon replied by saying that  it was pretty close. It’s interesting to note 
here that if this is very similar to reality,  will the upper stage ignition might 
actually help to flip the booster around. As always I appreciate the amazing work done by 
the 3D artists out there. Please do subscribe to  their content where you can as they have 
this amazing ability to allow all of us  to visualise these ideas in a way that works so 
well. It’s sadly not always easy for them to get  the support they need. You are all incredible so 
thanks for following and supporting all of us.  By the way: it’s done. It’s over. . . Well, 
hopefully. Jeff Bezos looks to have finally  accepted the decision on who will be developing 
the initial lander system for NASA’s return to  the Moon. The US Court of Federal Claims 
ruled against Blue Origin’s claim that the  decision process for the HLS was flawed. Jeff 
accepted the decision seemingly gracefully  tweeting out that this was Not the decision they 
wanted, but we respect the court’s judgment,  and wish full success for NASA and SpaceX on the 
contract. Elon of course couldn’t help himself  but tweet out his reaction to this decision with 
a polite and welcoming gesture in the form of this  meme. So hopefully this at least means there 
won’t be any more escalations of this lawsuit  in future. For now at least, NASA will likely 
return as soon as possible to continue the HLS  development process with SpaceX. As we’ve seen in 
Tim’s interview with Elon, a lot of aspects of the  landing system are not decided yet. For example: 
Will they use the side thruster idea or not? But not all is blue for Blue Origin! They rolled 
out the New Glenn pathfinder into the open to  give us a glimpse of it in the wild! Nice shot 
by Kyle Montgomery of it here. Obviously this  is not going to be flight hardware but more 
tests of dimensions, logistics and fit checks.   It might enable them to test processing of 
the stage before launch and after landing. Now  this is the same pathfinder that we’ve seen 
evidence of for quite a while now, so this  isn’t brand new. But all the same, it is nice to 
see something rolling out of the facility there.  Ok, so what is more exciting than 
watching a Falcon Heavy launch? Well,  how about 4 of them!? That’s exactly what 
we can now expect throughout the next year.   In fact there may even be a possibility of a 
fifth mission with USSF-67 also anticipated to  be a Heavy variant but not yet confirmed by the 
US military. There will be a trio of launches,  all for U. S national security. The payloads for 
those three missions are classified, so we won’t  know a lot about those. We also have the Viasat-3 
broadband satellite that will require the huge  power of the Falcon Heavy. And then what should be 
the most exciting mission. NASA’s Psyche mission  which will launch next year to then arrive at its 
destination in 2026 to explore a metallic asteroid  orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter.
This I think is hugely exciting. It has been much  longer than I’d like since we saw a Heavy variant 
lift off. The incredible booster separation and  double booster landings. These are just incredible 
to witness. They are quite rare currently though.   The last was from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center 
in June of 2019. This was the STP-2 mission,  placing 24 small satellites into orbit as 
part of a demonstration mission. Two months  prior to that mission we saw the Arabsat-6A 
satellite successfully put into orbit. Of  course how could we not mention Starman cruising 
the neighborhood in Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla  back in February of 2018. There were meant to 
be two launches for Falcon Heavy this year.   Unfortunately a mix of range scheduling conflicts 
and payload delays pushed these missions into  2022. So yes, some pretty cool milestones coming 
up here including Falcon Heavy’s first national  security mission heading direct to geostationary 
orbit. While the centre core will be expendable,  the recovery of side boosters will be quite 
the spectacle as we should see the first  recovery attempt using two drone ships. That is 
unprecedented at this point. Can you imagine how  that will look? Many of us are wondering whether 
they would be spaced close enough to see in a  single camera shot, or if they will be separated 
well away from each other. I’m very much hoping  there will be a drone or aircraft to capture this 
from above as that will be a stunning thing to  witness. 2022 is just around the corner now and 
there is already plenty to look forward to here  from SpaceX. With at least six cargo and crew 
Dragon missions and other commercial and Starlink  satellite launches lined up, it’s sure to be a 
massive launch schedule. Not to mention continued  Starship development and testing. Pretty 
amazing stuff here made on earth by Humans! Now there is also something else quite interesting 
lurking around the corner in 2022! Ariane Group  expects Ariane 6 to fly next year. And there are 
already about 20 flights booked on this new launch  vehicle. It will be the successor of Ariane 5, the 
current workhorse of the European Space Agency.   Ariane 6 is expected to cost half of Ariane 5 
while carrying about the same payload so this  is going to be a massive improvement and will 
allow more affordable launches in the future.   The payload capability should see it delivering 
over 20 metric tonnes to Low Earth Orbit  or about 10 tonnes to a Geostationary Transfer 
Orbit in the stronger of 2 variants. This variant,  called Ariane 64, will have 4 Solid Rocket 
Boosters or SRB’s. These are the P120C’s.   Interestingly, a single P120C will also be the new 
first stage of the Vega-C rocket which is a 2. 3  metric tonnes to LEO launch vehicle used by ESA.  
So yes, it is nice that the SRB design can be used  for multiple vehicles. How does the launch cost 
compare to say a Falcon 9? Well, even in the most  powerful version, the launch cost works out to be 
around 5,500 Euros per kilogram of payload which  is currently roughly 6400 US Dollars per kilogram.  
This is over 50 percent above that of Falcon 9.  With Ariane 5, the current upper 
stage is not capable of restarts  so it is excellent to see that Ariane 6 
will be using the new restartable Vinci  engine. This means it will have the capability 
to perform much more complex in-orbit maneuvers.   It will run on hydrogen and oxygen and use 
the expander cycle like the famous RL10 by  Aerojet Rocketdyne but it’ll have over 60 percent 
more thrust and an incredible specific impulse  of around 457 seconds. Not quite as high as 
the RL10, but very close. It certainly needs  to be a powerful and efficient engine since the 
upper stage is expected to be quite heavy with  about 6 metric tonnes in dry mass compared to 31 
tonnes of propellant mass. This makes the ratio of  propellant mass by dry mass around 5. To compare, 
the Centaur III upper stage, the workhorse upper  stage of United Launch Alliance, has a ratio 
of about 9 so Centaur has it easily beat there.  While I think it is awesome to see 
the European rockets getting updated,  Ariane 6 doesn’t really feel like it’s trying 
to keep up with its competition already flying,  let alone what we see being created in Boca Chica.  
It is still using partially solid propellants,  and it’s not reusable. Saying that, ArianeGroup 
expects a reusable successor of Ariane 6  to be up and running somewhere around 2030, so 
at least that is on the distant horizon. The  main engine of the core stage, the Vulcain 2. 1 is 
still an open cycle engine. There is nothing wrong  with open cycle of course. If you are a new rocket 
development company like a lot of small satellite  launchers, going for this simple, reliable but 
slightly inefficient engine cycle, is fine. But  if you’ve been in the rocket business for over 50 
years now, you would think they’d be tackling at  least a staged combustion design. Ah, maybe 
I’m being too hard on them. What do you think?  Is this updated design going to be out of date 
before it launches? Let me know in the comments.  The developments with the new supporting 
launch infrastructure are critical too.   ESA’s launch site in French Guyana is well 
underway! Just recently, we were provided  with new footage. The quick disconnect system 
has been tested extensively and the deluge  system test is incredible to watch. This will 
spray huge volumes of water on the launch pad  and beneath the launch table to protect both the 
launch vehicle and its payloads. The water will  largely absorb and deflect the tremendous acoustic 
energy generated at liftoff. This they estimate to  be around 180 decibels at launch with Ariane 6.  
Noise like this, as we learned in our “Explosive  Potential” video , can do serious damage, so 
the deluge system reduces this a great real.   During the launch, about 700 metric tonnes of 
water are sprayed over the pad. This is about half  of what is planned for the Space Launch Systems 
launch pad for comparison. Sadly we still don’t  know anything more about what is planned in this 
regard for Superheavy. While Ariane 6 with 4 SRBs  will have an impressive 1,800 tonnes of thrust, 
Superheavy aims to quadruple that value after a  few iterations. Hopefully we’ll see something more 
concrete on the Super Heavy launch stand soon.  A quick update on the Crew 3 launch that 
we talked about in last week’s video.   Obviously that launch has not happened yet. It 
was originally scheduled to take off last weekend,  however it was then rescheduled mid week due 
to the weather conditions along the flight path  not looking great. At the start 
of the week however the launch  was pushed further. So why that delay?
We’ll talk about that more in  a moment but first a big thank you to Brilliant 
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Ok, so why the latest delay on Crew 3?  Well, NASA stated that it was due to a minor 
medical issue involving one of the crew members.   It wasn’t actually disclosed which 
of the four crew this might be,  but they did specifically point out that it was 
not a medical emergency or related to COVID-19.   The team are continuing to monitor crew health 
as they evaluate potential launch opportunities.   Weather seems to be the cause of the most current 
delays this weekend. The last earliest possible  launch date I’ve seen was proposed to be Monday 
the 8th of November, however that could still push  out further. Just check the latest news on that as 
it arises. Along with delays on the Crew 3 launch,  that is also causing issues for Crew 2. As it 
stands right now, NASA may even bring Crew 2 back  home before Crew 3 launches meaning that we won’t 
see that usual handover we would typically see.   Good luck to Crew 3. NASA astronauts Raja, Tom and 
Kayla, with Matthias from ESA are going to have a  lengthy stay at the space station for a six-month 
period estimated to return sometime in late April  next year. I think it is so wonderful seeing Crew 
Dragon on these rotations. It is easy to think  of this as routine at this point but remember 
that Crew Dragon is still a very young vehicle  so I’m still incredibly excited seeing these 
launches. Crew Dragon is really helping to lower  the cost to orbit already and interestingly 
of course just recently Dmitry Rogozin, the  director general of the Russian space agency, 
said in a press conference that “In our view,  SpaceX has already acquired enough experience 
for us to be able to put our cosmonauts on Crew  Dragon”. That is a pretty spectacular thing 
to hear from Russia as they have been quite  critical of SpaceX in the past. Only the last 
year or two has the tide really turned here. Just  a few months ago we saw Rogozin stating that 
“Elon Musk realizes many of the ideas and thoughts  that we wanted to realize, but did not get to 
because, after the breakup of the Soviet Union,  our space program halted for some time”. Also 
adding “we respect him as an organizer of the  space industry and as an inventor, who is not 
afraid to take risk. “. So yes, who knows, perhaps  we may see Cosmonauts signing up for some trips 
to the ISS in the near future on Crew Dragon.  So yes, that is what’s been happening this week 
but also there are a few interesting launches  coming very soon. We have JAXA getting ready for 
the RAISE-2 flight which has been delayed twice  now due to technical issues and weather. That 
will be sending up 9 demonstration satellites  in a rideshare deal. Rocket Labs launch is 
hopefully coming in just days which will  be attempting that booster retrieval 
with the chutes. As tweeted the other  day the BlackSky Satellites are 
integrated and ready for launch! Finally it looks like the next Starlink launch 
is about to happen potentially this coming week.   We’ve recently seen that they are struggling 
to fulfill orders for its internet kits  due to the frustrating microchip shortage.  
That is even now shown on the Starlink FAQ  page. I don’t know if this is also causing issues 
getting the actual satellites ready for launch,  but regardless, we will hopefully be 
seeing next dedicated polar launch soon.  Also still awaiting the next hopefully 
non-sideways launch of Astra as well.   Thank you for watching all the way through, 
liking and subscribing to what I do. That is  most awesome of you. To the team of you out there 
helping as Patrons or Youtube members right here,  I’m so grateful to each and every one of you.  
Thanks so much. Also, last week people really  helped via the merch store as well. A lot of you 
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