SpaceX Starbase Extension Dropped, Starship Updates, Crew Dragon Axiom-1, Amazon Project Kuiper

This video is supported by Squarespace, the  all-in-one platform for your online presence. Hey, Hey Marcus House with you here. Yet another crazy  week of awesome space news to cover today! Not just all the huge progress during the week with  Starship development, but so much to catch up on outside that as well. We have the SLS Wet  Dress Rehearsal updates. Friday’s launch of four private astronauts to the international space  station with Axiom Space’s on Crew Dragon. Amazon has announced 83 rocket launches for Project  Kuiper, their broadband satellite constellation. RocketLab assisted BlackSky to set a company  record, and astounding findings from Hubble. Firstly, an interesting piece of unintentional  Starship development news this week coming out of the orbital launch pad at Florida. On Tuesday  night, SpaceX shared a photo of the Falcon 9 and Dragon vertical at Pad 39A for the launch of  Axiom 1. Will cover that later in the video, but if you zoom into the background here you may  notice the Starship pad under those bright spot lights. Just next to the falcon 9, you can see  a foundation for the base of the orbital launch tower under construction, and right behind  that you can see what is possibly the ground breaking for the orbital launch mount too. Now at Starbase in Texas, in a newly released letter, the site expansion plan applications,  previously filed with the US Army Corps of Engineers in 2021, were withdrawn, citing a lack  of documentation from SpaceX, and their decision to establish launch facilities at Kennedy Space  Center. That expansion at the launch site would have included Orbital Launch Mount B, another  landing pad, and much more. In this tweet from Mauricio of RGV Aerial Photography showing where  the proposed expansion would be. SpaceX does have the option to re-apply for the site expansion,  but I don’t think that would happen any time soon with the lack of launch approval from the FAA and  with them ramping up the launch site at Florida. Speaking of which, Greg Scott and  Farrielle took another flight at the cape. It is worth noting that new flight restrictions  limit how close they can get to Roberts Road, but at this distance we can still see a lot. The  third level of Starships next Orbital Launch tower is now vertical and almost complete, with more  sections ready to go. If we zoom right in here you can even see that at least two, perhaps three  more pads for tower segment construction have now appeared. It could be that there are building  9 or 10 of these pads in total. The ground and foundation work here is what also blows my mind.  SpaceX are making massive progress here. It is super handy being able to see these perspectives  so if you can support the flights there please do. So yes, digging into the updates at Starbase,  last week after being moved to the launch site, Booster 7 was hooked up to the crane right beside  the booster testing stand, dubbed the can crusher. It looked like it would up onto that stand for  its first big test. However, it seemed that plans had changed right after as it was disconnected  from the crane so that both could individually roll over to the orbital launch pad. From here  Booster 7 was again hooked up to the crane that night. The next morning, it was carefully  lifted up out of the booster transport stand, was raised up into the air, and moved over to the  orbital launch mount. It was then gently lowered into the launch ring ahead of initial testing.  During that lift, Nic with NasaSpaceFlight captured this great shot that allowed us to see  partially into the skirt. What’s very obvious is that all the raptor plumbing, wiring and gimbal  hardware is on the booster already which should make for easier Raptor 2 installation. With  this version of the engine being simplified from Raptor 1, it will be interesting to  see how rapidly they are attached this time. On Sunday afternoon, the booster Quick Disconnect  was attached to Booster 7 and that evening the LR11000 crane was detached from the vehicle.  Monday morning, the pad was cleared of personnel and the tank farm was spooled up ready for  testing. At 3pm frost formed on the upper tank as it was filled with liquid nitrogen, and soon  after the bottom tank started frosting up too. I think what was most astounding though was this!  Just over an hour later Booster 7 had both its liquid oxygen and methane tanks completely  filled in this cryogenic test. This is the first time by the way that a booster has been  filled up to the brim on both tanks like this. Compare this to Booster 4’s latest cryo test that  had its liquid oxygen tank full but its methane tank to only half way. After about an hour of  the Booster 7’s tanks being completely full, the booster started to detank, and the frost  levels went down. After depressurising the tanks late into the night, the event was concluded  after quite an impressive day of testing. The alignment pins that were on Booster 4’s  transport stand were moved to Booster 7’s transport stand this week. I think that these  alignment pins will possibly be required when a booster is moved in and out of the stand when  using the tower arms. This is because when the clamps on the stand let go of the booster,  there is nothing stopping it from swaying back and forth. These pins are very necessary as SpaceX  can’t afford to damage the bells of the 20 engines on the outer ring of the booster. The pins can  raise up and down, and slide in and out so that they can slot into the two sockets on either side  of the booster here. With both the tower arms and the alignment pins, it should eliminate the need  for having a dozen workers holding the booster using guide ropes. Something that I doubt is even  allowed if the booster is under the arms of the chopsticks anyway. Thanks a heap to the amazing  Ryan Hansen Space for putting this together. Much more information on his channel  is coming soon so stay tuned for that. On Tuesday Nic shared an announcement  that was heard over the PA system saying that SpaceX were “clearing the pad  for rigging and crane operations.” The crane was soon hooked up to the Ship quick disconnect  umbilical arm on the orbital launch tower which is responsible for delivering the propellant into  the ship. That piece of equipment was soon lowered to the ground. Now this we suspect is because  it would need to be altered to accommodate the changes on Ship 24 and onwards. We know that  the quick disconnect plate is one ring higher and would almost certainly have an evolved design. Mid week, the can crusher was offloaded from the Self Propelled Modular Transporters and  placed on the ground. Just yesterday, booster 7 was lifted off the orbital launch  mount by the crane, and lowered down to be placed on the can crusher. It’ll be interesting  to see if some testing occurs here soon, or if this is just a temporary resting place. Over at the production site, on Sunday night, Ship 24’s aft section was picked up in front of  tent 3 and moved inside. The next day, it emerged out the other end of the tent, was moved into the  Highbay, and lifted by the bridge crane. It was mated to the top of Booster 8’s forward section  for a fit check to ensure that the pins and slots fit together as required. Early the next morning,  it was destacked from the booster and lowered to the ground. A few hours later, Ship 24’s common  dome and middle liquid oxygen assembly that was stacked in the Midbay at the end of February was  moved over to the highbay, lifted up by the bridge crane, and stacked onto that same aft section. A week ago Booster 8’s aft section number two was lifted into the Highbay with its common  dome section following it the next day. It was promptly lifted up by the bridge crane  and stacked onto that aft section which begins the liquid oxygen tank assembly, now 8 out of  24 rings tall. This, along with the completed methane tank means that we should see a fully  stacked Booster 8 in the very near future. A newly spotted thrust dome for either  Booster 9 or perhaps even the Booster 7.1 test tank was lifted onto the sleeving stand  early in the week, which was sleeved with the usual 4 stack of the slightly shorter rings. A new Booster header tank sporting a capped downcomer pipe here showed up. This I suspect  could possibly be a test tank for the newly designed liquid oxygen header tank in the Boosters  that we’ve seen on Booster 7 and Booster 8. Such rapid production work going on here  with all that activity, and as always, many of these production updates are beautifully  shown in Brendans latest production diagram. So do go check those out on his twitter account and  subscribe to his feed there to stay up to date. That support really helps him do what he is doing  there. And of course it is hugely useful for the channel right here too. So grateful to all of  you for following what we do here each Saturday. Well, time for some updates on  the SLS Wet Dress Rehearsal! Last week of course everything was scheduled to  largely be tested out on Saturday and Sunday, the 2nd and 3rd of April. It certainly didn’t  all go as smoothly as we would have liked. NASA’s Space Launch System recently rolled out to launch  Pad 39B to prepare for its last major tests before the first ever launch. The Artemis 1 mission.  It is a super critical mission of course as this will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s  deep space exploration system, and that includes not only the SLS itself, but the Orion spacecraft,  and the ground systems at the pad. The final stage of this Wet Dress Rehearsal process was a full  propellant load test, and a practice countdown. Essentially almost everything but firing up the  engines. So, why wasn’t it a smooth process? [Ad Start] I’ll jump into that in just a moment  but first, a huge thank you to Squarespace today for their support of this video. Remember when  you needed an expensive web developer to get a simple site up and running? Well, no more. It is  so simple to get started using Squarespace with a bunch of great mobile-responsive templates to  match your brand. 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[Ad End] So yes, why wasn’t the Wet Dress Rehearsal a smooth process? Well, firstly the weather had a little to do with initial delays, with four lightning  strikes detected at the pad on Saturday last week. One of which actually hit the tower. Yikes. The following day on Sunday the tanking test was abandoned after a fan pressurization issue  on the mobile launcher. This of course caused safety concerns with ground support equipment.  That issue was resolved and the test pushed back the next day. On Monday the plan was to load  around 700 thousand gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellant into the core  stage. Initially there was a delay of several hours loading Liquid Oxygen due to a temperature  limit issue. Once resolved, the Liquid Oxygen tank was filled to about 50%. When NASA was  preparing to load the Liquid Hydrogen though, a panel problem on the mobile launcher was  spotted which halted the test. That panel controls the vent valve of the core stage which  relieves pressure during the “tanking” process. So yes, all these tests were necessary, and  it was good that none of these issues were too detrimental. In fact, it is good to see the  problems were not so much with the launch vehicle itself, but instead the ground support equipment.  The delays have caused those unintentional consequences though such as pushing back the  launch of the SpaceX Axiom 1 mission three times. Following this mission, around April  the 20th from the exact same launch pad, is the Crew 4 mission sending 4 crew to the ISS. That leads us of course to the incredible mission on Friday to launch four private astronauts  to the international space station on behalf of Axiom Space. There are a bunch of interesting  milestones with this mission I think. As is well reported, it is the first dedicated completely  private trip to the International Space Station. Don’t let that fool you though. There is a lot  of experience here. Retired NASA astronaut, Michael López-Alegría is the commander. He has  flown to the Space Station before and has flown in the Space Shuttle three times in total. A  pretty impressive track record alone and he’s done 10 separate spacewalks which I believe is  still the current record for a NASA astronaut. A picture-perfect liftoff, and fifth flight of  this particular Falcon 9 booster. I found it again most interesting that the signal coverage for the  drone ship landing was completely uninterrupted for the always incredible pinpoint landing  out in the Atlantic Ocean. The droneship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” there as the platform for  this awesomeness didn’t appear to break its link once which still seems a little unusual. We also have on board Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy who each apparently  paid $55 million for their seats. As the crew have collectively stated many times in the  media, this is no tourism mission. There is a great deal of science and research to be done  on this flight. As stated by the Axiom crew, they’ve spent between 750 and 1000 hours just  in training along to prepare, and are going to be conducting 25 different experiments on the ISS. At the time of editing, the SpaceX Dragon capsule was still on its way to the International  Space Station is set to dock today April 9th. Very best of luck on the mission. I’m certainly  hoping Axiom Space gets all they need out of this mission prior to launching their own space station  in the future which is imaginatively called Axiom Station. It is going to be a  blast watching this one play out. Some pretty big news coming out of Amazon this  week. The company has announced what may very well be the biggest commercial procurement  of rocket launches ever. Well, assuming of course you don’t count SpaceX launching their  own Starlink satellites. These launches are all for Amazon’s Project Kuiper, another low  Earth orbit satellite network that will be made up of 3,236 satellites. All designed to provide  broadband to communities around the world. Three agreements have been signed already including 38  separate launches on ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, 18 launches on Arianespace’s Ariane 6, and…  12 on Blue Origin’s New Glenn. I know, right? Who would have guessed! Of course all three  of these rockets are yet to fly with Ariane 6 and ULA’s Vulcan Centaur possibly making their  first flights late this year, or possibly more likely 2023. Blue Origin’s New Glenn seems  unlikely to fly before 2023 or even 2024. So yes, this is on top of an earlier agreement with ABL  space systems for two launches of the RS1 for two test satellites that are planned to launch  by the fourth quarter this year, and ULA’s 9 Atlas V launches of operational satellites. With all 77 operational launches with the new contract, it will likely  cost the company a minimum of 10 billion dollars before accounting for the  cost of Kuiper satellites or payload adapters. According to Michael Sheetz, Vulcan Centaur  will launch 45 satellites per launch, New Glenn will launch 61 and Ariane 6  will launch 35 to 40. This is a total of 3400 satellites, averaging to roughly 3  million dollars to launch each satellite. Of course it is interesting just to run the  numbers if they flew with SpaceX in some kind of upside down universe. With Falcon 9 as an obvious  much cheaper option, it’s possible that it could launch 30 Kuiper satellites per launch for an  average cost of 1.7 million dollars per satellite. Much cheaper, and that doesn’t even consider  SpaceX’s Starship, which will more than likely begin commercial launches well before New Glenn.  Starship could feasibly carry 100 to 150 Kuiper satellites per launch and is certainly predicted  to cost much less than Falcon 9 despite offering at least five times the performance. RocketLab  had another beautiful night launch just after my video went up last Saturday. This one broke a  record too. Well.. Not for RocketLab themselves, but it allowed BlackSky to set a company record.  Here was Electron ready for launch on Pad A from New Zealand at launch complex 1 in the super early  hours of Sunday April the 3rd. This was no ride share mission as many are by RocketLab. This was a  fully dedicated mission, the 25th Electron launch, and the third in the series of five launches for  Blacksky. This one was named “without mission a beat”, and sitting on top safely enclosed in the  fairings was a modified kick stage with the 2 high resolution earth observation microsatellites.  Interestingly, to deploy the satellites, Rocketlab had to use a special double stack method  as we see here in this image. Pretty cool how these are deployed which we’ll see in a moment.  The Countdown to launch proceeded without any issues and Electron roared off the pad at 1:41AM  local time. It lit up the clear night sky with its nine Rutherford engines rapidly ascending into the  darkness. This one was a south easterly trajectory and moments later, main engine cut off and stage  separation, followed by fairing jettison. The second stage powered by a single vacuum-optimized  Rutherford engine pushed onwards, delivering the kickstage to its target orbit almost 10 minutes  after launch. Due to sensitivity surrounding payload and deployment, there was no live feed, so  we instead needed to settle for animations to keep us updated on this part of the mission. The coast  phase for the kickstage lasted roughly 50 minutes before one final short duration burn of almost  2 minutes circularized the orbit. This was the intriguing payload deployment though. The  first of the 2 satellites was released, followed by the jettison of the payload adapter.  Looks kind of like a Top Hat doesn’t it? Then the second satellite was deployed. So yes,  that brings the Blacksky satellite constellation now to 14 in total! Another successful mission by  Rocket Lab. Blacksky later took to social media, posting that the team at Rocketlab had  enabled them to deliver first images and data just a mere 12 hours after launch. On top of all this of course, the upcoming mission, nameed “There and Back  Again,” will be attempting the first full recovery with the booster re-entering, deploying  a series of shutes, and then be captured by the chopper as seen in early catch tests. Can’t  wait for that one which should be soon. Fantastic insight there to see just how  amazing RocketLabs launch services are. Now, last week I didn’t have the space to add  this story in, but I’ve just got to talk about it because I find it simply incredible. On the  30th of March the Hubble team released this image. This here is farthest star ever captured! The  scientists involved have named this Earendel, meaning the “Morning star”, and it is estimated  to be 12.9 billion light years away. That means the light left the star 12.9 Billion years ago  and has now just reached us. That alone is hard to fully comprehend. Now we don’t really know  what the exact age of the universe is but, we estimate it to be around 13.7 billion years old,  give or take a few hundred million years at most. That means that this star was roughly formed  around a billion years after the birth of the Universe itself! What is odd here is that normally  we couldn’t see this far away because at these distances, large clusters of galaxies appear only  as smudges. So how did we do it? Well, it’s all thanks to gravitational lensing! Between Earth and  Earendel there is a massive galaxy cluster which bends the fabric of space and time. This greatly  amplifies the light from distant objects behind it, essentially acting like a magnifying glass.  There is a huge amount of luck in this of course. For this to happen this monstrous lens needs  to be in perfect alignment with the Hubble. Thankfully, it’s going to remain in this  alignment to be analyzed for years to come. Scientists believe Earendel was probably entirely  made of light gasses like hydrogen and helium but could also be 50 times the mass of our sun  and millions of times brighter! These are known as Population III stars and are thought to be  the early creators of heavy metal elements. They burn hot and they burn fast, living out short  lives and exploding as a supernova hurling heavier elements across the universe. The mind bender  when studying astronomy is always the fact that although Earendel existed 12.9 billion years ago,  it would be long gone by now! And the galaxy that contained this star is calculated to now be over  27 billion light years away from our present location in space. I’m sure one of the James  Webb Space Telescope’s primary goals is to study this star and look out for other Population III  stars! Can’t wait to see what more we’ll discover! So yes, it has been quite an eventful week  of space news, then on top of that you have the also interesting non-spacy news going on  such as Musk now being the largest individual shareholder now holding 9.2% in Twitter. Yep,  just lazily picking up over 73 million shares. Musk has of course been fairly critical of  Twitter recently so it will be interesting to see how changes to the platform evolve  at this point. Even though Elon had been tweeting polls about an edit option in  Twitter, it seems to already be becoming a reality with Twitter hinting at it at the  start of the month. Hopefully the feature allows everyone to still see the history of  the edit. Handy for all my typos at least. Musk is also being appointed to our board of  Twitter as announced here by Twitters CEO, so he is going to have a fair amount  of influence I would think. What do you think? Good thing? Bad thing? I’m totally  on the fence with this one to be honest. As always, thanks so much for watching all the  way through. It has been another action packed week of news and I’ll be back again next Saturday.  Please do double check you are still subscribed as well. Youtube has been behaving real weird the  last few months. I’m just so grateful to you all helping me do what I do here. It blows my  mind every single week. If you love the content like my incredible patrons and youtube members  every little bit helps, and you can get those ad free videos delivered before anyone else  gets to see them. The merch store links below if you want some new gear. All helps a heap. The tile in the bottom left today will take you back to the video from last week. Along with  Starship Updates we had a lot on Relativity Space, SLS and Marks return to Earth. In the top right  is the latest video and the bottom right… content that Youtube thinks you will  like from the channel! Thanks as always for watching all this way through. Helps a  huge amount! I’ll see you in the next video.

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