SpaceX Starship 20 and Booster 4 Retired, OneWeb to Fly with SpaceX, 5000 Exoplanets and more
This video is supported by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform for your online presence. Hey, Hey Marcus House with you here. As always there is space news everywhere to talk about this week. At Starbase The next generation of Starship is being assembled while Booster 4 testing finally involves the use of methane. Another captivating spacewalk with breathtaking views of the International Space Station and our world below. OneWeb changes launch provider. And with the deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope happening just as we hit a tally of 5000 recorded exoplanets and counting, are we about to enter a new golden era for astronomy? Well, I think it is safe to say that the past two weeks have had elevated activity at SpaceX’s Starbase in Boca Chica. Where the site at Florida seemed to have been a hive of activity instead for a few weeks prior to that, a higher gear seems to be selected here in Brownsville. We have some announcements that took a lot by surprise which I’ll just right into shortly, but first let’s catch up on the earlier events since the last weekly video. We left off with the fully stacked Ship 20 and Booster 4 towering into the sky being cryo tested. It stayed up there for several days. Last Saturday, the ship quick disconnect plate was retracted away from Ship 20 and the arm itself was soon rotated away from the vehicle which allows for the mechazilla system to transverse down the tower. Beautiful footage of this as always by NASASpaceflight. The transport stand was moved back next to the orbital launch mount, all ready to receive the ship. Just after 7pm that night the stabilization arms engaged and soon after, stage separation was confirmed with Ship 20 being destacked from Booster 4 where it was soon lowered down onto the stand. Interestingly this appears to be the first time SpaceX had not closed the roads to destack. That’s just a neat observation really. Ship 20 was later rolled over to the ship testing and cryo station area. On Monday, Highway 4 was closed to the public in the morning ahead of the testing closure, which was expected to be a fueling test of booster 4. More specifically liquid methane and liquid nitrogen together. Additionally a Pad closure announcement was heard at the launch site stating to all personal at the pad that a “Pad closure would occur in 1 hour” and to “please leave the pad site now.” 3pm was soon upon us and the tank farm was active and venting from what appeared to be near the Methane storage tanks. The methane recondenser was venting as well which only activates when methane is involved. This test continued into the evening. As far as I recall this is the first time we’ve had methane going into the booster itself. The main question is why only liquid methane, and not liquid oxygen as well. I can only assume that this test was more to purge the methane lines and to test out the fuel farm systems rather than to test the booster itself. Highly speculative, but I’m interested in your thoughts there. What do you think SpaceX were up to here with this test? By midnight the tests concluded and the road was reopened. It looked like Booster 4’s tests were about done with SpaceX’s LR11000 crane lifting up the massive load spreader on Tuesday to be later attached to Booster 4 and On Wednesday, the booster Quick disconnect retracted away from B4 al ahead of its dismount from Orbital Pad A. This occurred on Thursday afternoon when the clamps on the orbital launch mount released, leaving Booster 4 to gently sway in the air and the lift was soon underway. Over an hour later B4 touched down onto the transport stand. This is where we get to our surprising announcement of course. This quite unfortunate yet kind of expected news was confirmed by Elon Musk this week on twitter. He confirmed that the first Starship orbital flight will be with Raptor 2’s as they are much more capable & reliable with 230 tons of thrust at sea level. Obviously Ship 20 and Booster 4 has Raptor 1’s installed. There will be no flight to orbit for this colossal beast which was rolled to the launch site site for the first time back in August last year. These behemoths have been sitting around now for over 230 days. Can you believe that!? Ok, so many of you might be thinking that this is sucky. That is where the sucky news ends though, because in the same tweet, he also stated that they will have 39 flightworthy Raptor 2 engines built by April with another month needed to integrate those with the vehicles. Therefore we now hope to see the orbital flight test in May assuming the approvals are given. The FAA have pushed another month again of course as seen on Friday, so lets hope that by the time the next full stack is ready, we also see this resolved. The constant monthly push backas are I agree, feeling quite frustrating. I think if they had simply provided a more realistic time from the start, people wouldn’t get so riled up about it. So which booster and ship will make this flight. Could Elon be referring to Booster 7 and Ship 24? Over to news at the build site construction continues on the new ships and boosters. booster 9 Common Dome sleeve was rolled outside from one of the tents and flipped upright. It is however still unknown if this is being reassigned to Booster 8 given that its common dome section was scrapped a few weeks back. In the highbay, Booster 7 received its triangular aero covers, which can now also technically be called chines or strakes, over 1 row of COPVs! It has been rolling in and out of the high bay as well preparing it seems for a move very soon. The Forward Sleeve for Booster 9 has been flipped upright, and its forward dome was rolled out of a tent and lifted onto the sleeving stand to then be sleeved on Tuesday. The booster liquid oxygen header tank that was seen in the build yard has since been rolled into a tent, and then integrated with the aft dome section that is believed to be for Booster 8. A middle liquid oxygen section with thermal protection system studs, likely for Ship 25, was lifted out of tent 3 into the nose yard. It has been a little while now since we’ve seen a new test tank. The first section of a test tank Booster 7.1 has been found outside of the Highbay which is made up of four 1.5m rings similar to the previous booster aft dome that was sleeved. This we suspect is going to be a 33-engine test tank. Speaking of 33 engines, the fourth 13 engine thrust puck for the inner set of engines on a booster was delivered this week. So yes, what does all this mean. Yup. We need to re-introduce this booster test stand, dubbed the can crusher. Sure enough out of the build site it rolled and off to the launch site this week. There it sits now parked at the booster cryo station area. Now some exciting HLS news this week, NASA has selected Starship for an additional mission to the Moon with astronauts as part of the Artemis program. At least… I think that is what it says…see what you think. “Exercising an option under the original award, NASA now is asking SpaceX to transform the company’s proposed human landing system into a spacecraft that meets the agency’s requirements for recurring services for a second demonstration mission.” Artemis III was already awarded of course and will have astronauts touching down on the Moon aboard a SpaceX Starship Human Landing System. I assume there will be multiple now under a new award being finalized. Speaking of HLS, a neat clip here by Ryan Bale chatting away to Victor Glover just recently, and Victors main role right now is as the HLS representative. [Show bit of clip] So far the work is going very well with a lot to be done. I hope we get to hear and see a lot more around this. Please do help us share this incredible news. Now I talked about the potential Starlink payload dispenser installed into Ship 24 last week, along with the door cutout on the nose cone barrel. I had a number of people in the comments suggesting this is just a likely test elevator system for HLS. I don’t believe so. Firstly, this door is much too small for that, and secondly, the priority is getting as many of those Starlink Version 2 satellites into orbit as quickly as possible. Starship is not going to be doing missions with lives on board any time soon until it is well tested out and proven with many uncrewed missions. This week, ErcX and Smallstars released a stunning animation on twitter of how this dispenser could work almost like a pez dispenser sending out one satellite at a time. Totally speculative, but looks very cool all the same. No need to open up a massive payload bay for this either. Give them a follow on Twitter and youtube. Thanks for supporting them, they do such great work. And hey also… check this out. Yep! You did it. 400,000 of you subscribers. Thanks so much for all your support over these crazy few years. It sure has been a wild ride. It’s all because of you though. I could put all the work in the world into these Saturday videos, but if there was no one to care or watch, it would all be for nothing wouldn’t it? So grateful to each and every one of you. One little note for this coming week. We have a surprise video coming. If you love 3D printed rockets, you are going to really enjoy that one. Ok, so as speculated in last Saturday’s episode, SpaceX has indeed stepped in to help British company OneWeb stay on track with their launch plans. [Ad Start] I’ll jump into that in just a moment but just quickly, a huge thank you to Squarespace today for their support of this video. Squarespace is an incredible all-in-one platform to build your online presence to promote yourself, your business, or your brand. Even if you have little experience in creating your own online content, you will immediately feel right at home creating a website with Squarespace. There is no better way to start than just taking the dive! Simply choose one of the amazing templates and begin entering your content. If you have a following of your own already, or if you plan to build one, you can create revenue streams with your content utilizing the monetization controls with member areas. You can even provide the option to choose a recurring fee schedule if you are offering a frequent service. Adding to this, commenting is a great way to promote interaction with your visitors and create an engaged community around your site. This is all inbuilt into Squarespace as well. Comments are sorted as Unmoderated, Approved, or Flagged so that you have the control you need. Just one neat little feature you may not even realize is available. If you want to check it out for yourself, just head to squarespace.com/marcushouse and save 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain. You’ll find that link in the description below. [Ad End] So yes, SpaceX has stepped in to help OneWeb continue launching their satellites into orbit. As we see here in an announcement from OneWeb earlier this week, they can once again proceed with their satellite launches thanks to this new deal. Partially owned by the British government, OneWeb was saved from Bankruptcy in 2020 and has deployed around 66% or some 428 satellites for its planned constellation. With 6 Soyuz launches that were planned, Oneweb were expecting to attain their global coverage goals by August. Unfortunately recent events in Europe turned these plans upside down, leaving OneWeb satellites with no ability to reach orbit. Earlier this month we saw the scheduled launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan canceled. The 36 OneWeb satellites sitting atop the Soyuz launch vehicle never lifted off after OneWeb declined to agree to the conditions placed upon them by Roscosmos. Now, thanks to support from SpaceX, this launch limbo didn’t last long. While it may seem like an odd pairing of competitors here SpaceX and OneWeb have different target customers. It is great to see that it is possible to partner with a launch provider who also has a considerable investment in space based internet for consumers. Their common goals are mutually beneficial. The first launch is expected in the not too distant future. Details of the agreement reached here are confidential so it is currently not clear how many launches will be required, how many satellites or indeed which launch vehicle however it is thought this will be the ever reliable Falcon 9. In light of all of this launch provider restructure, we now see the European Space Agency also having to review its plans. Not least of which was the recent suspension of the two part ExoMars mission. Launching the trace gas orbiter in 2016, the second part to this programme was to see the launch of a Mars rover named “Rosalind Franklin” later this year but sadly the collaboration between ESA and Roscosmos has had to be suspended. NASA was also participating in this mission providing a mass spectrometer for the rover as well as other technical assistance. There are huge issues now around completing this Mars programme given that the rover was to be delivered to the martian surface by a Russian lander which would have served as a surface platform for conducting science experiments. It is thought to be highly unlikely now that a launch will take place this year. Hopefully one day in the future this mission can be completed. Now last week I talked about the James Webb Space Telescope progress with the mirror alignment going beautifully, and now obtaining incredible images already without even using the main Near-Infrared Camera yet to be tested. Check out last weeks video if you need a quick update on that. More information did follow though with it being announced that the image seen here is as sharp and as crisp as the images that the Hubble space telescope can take, but are also at the same time at a wavelength of light that is totally invisible to Hubble. So this is making the invisible universe snap into very, very sharp focus. This leads me to one of my favorite topics actually. This week NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory published this article announcing a massive Cosmic Research Milestone with a confirmed 5,000 Exoplanets now being found in total. But what I thought was more interesting was the incredible acceleration in planets found up to this year. Attached to the article is this animation. I’ve got a link to this in the description so you can check it out. It is super high resolution and the animation and audio included shows humanity’s discovery of each planet beyond our solar system over time. As we’ve found each exoplanet, a circle pops up, and the size of each signifies the relative size of the planet’s orbit. Notice as well that there are four colors which indicates the type of planet detection method used. It is really beautiful and if you listen to the audio, the pitch of each note indicates the orbital period of the planet. Lower pitches are further out from the star. Higher pitches closer to the star. What was particularly wonderful to me were these huge bursts of transit detections that all go off at once in 2014 and 2016. [CUT TO CLIP] The reason they all pop in at once like that is because you need to set up a telescope to stare for years at a field of stars. Apparently over 170,000 at a time, and they then track tiny dips in starlight when a planet crosses a star’s face. After picking up all that data. All of these were known simultaneously using that transit method. You can see here compared to the other methods just how successful that has been. The Kepler telescope alone has picked up thousands of these. In total you can see the percentages as released. As technology advances we are able to track smaller and smaller planets. Only 4% of these found so far are around the size of Earth here. Over 30% are super Earths. Then also keep in mind that we’ve only looked at a miniscule slice of what is out there. This sort of data is why I’m just so excited about telescopes. Imagine equally incredible data that will be discovered by the James Webb Space telescope. We live in just the most amazing time in history. I’m just so grateful for that. It’s such a humbling experience. NASA astronaut Raja Chari and Matthias Maurer with the European Space Agency conducted a spacewalk on March the 23rd. Taking almost seven hours to complete various maintenance tasks on the International Space Station, Raja (with the red stripe on his suit) was on his second EVA while this was the first for Matthias. On egress from the Quest airlock there was a delay of about an hour after buddy checks revealed a loose camera and light assembly on a helmet. We have seen this before on a previous space walk. A quick fix using a wire tie and they were both on their way to complete their primary objective. Raja set off to replace a pair of flex hoses on one of the port-side radiators that bleed off heat generated by the station’s electronics while Matthias ran some power and data cable for a camera to be replaced later in the spacewalk. Other activities included installation of a jumper on a Columbus module and releasing some clamps on the Bartolomeo science platform, the exterior mount used for scientific experiments. Once safely back inside the crew moved quickly to extract Matthias from his suit due to water in his helmet, leaving Raja to wait patiently in the background. Overall it was a very precise ballet of movements outside achieving all objectives closing out the 248th spacewalk in support of the orbital outpost. Speaking of the ISS, NASA has ordered 12 additional Cargo Flights to station, awarding six of them to SpaceX, and six to Northrop Grumman. That will provide resupply services to the ISS now right through to 2026. Some other quick mentions. It was revealed early this week that SpaceX are discontinuing their partnership with Spaceflight Industries after the existing manifest has been completed. A move which apparently surprised Spaceflight with them saying they were still unsure of the reasoning behind it. Apparently they were notified by text. So yea, that is a little odd. I know SpaceX had refused to launch a SHERPA-LTC space vehicle on SpaceX’s Transporter-3 mission. That I believe had some sort of propulsion leak. Not sure if that sort of mishap has anything to do with it, but in the future, SpaceX sound like they will be managing more rideshare customers directly. Presumably that will increase costs, so perhaps smaller payloads will end up dealing with others like RocketLab in future. The Mars helicopter Ingenuity took flight for the 22nd time hovering around in the thin martian atmosphere for 101.4 seconds. Considering the initial plan was to attempt no more than five flights, it is hugely successful. I kind of wish we got to see a little more publicity and animations around Ingenuity. It has all been great news because a year ago we didn’t even know if powered, controlled flight like this was even possible. It has lasted already beyond what anyone had expected and NASA has actually extended its mission now through to at least September. Pretty incredible and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter team members were awarded the Goddard Memorial Trophy on March 18. And.. I’m looking forward to checking out the new documentary being released in early April that will be showing some new inside access to NASA and SpaceX. Netflix shared this trailer recently which will dive into the thrilling story of the Demo 2 mission with Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in June of 2020. It’s weird that this wasn’t produced and published well before this. Or at least before Inspiration 4’s Countdown documentary last year, but all the same I can’t wait to see it. That was the real nerve-wracking mission, sending humans to space for the first time since the shuttle retired in 2011. The first private company to ever do it. Certainly one of the most critical achievements in SpaceX’s 20 years of existence. So yes, you are all caught up on yet another week of space goodness. Lots more coming in next Saturday’s video so stay tuned there. Thanks so much to all you amazing people out there that love space and space technology. As I tweeted out here as we crossed that 400,000 subscriber mark, without you, there is no way that I can create the content we do here. It is such a blur as well with all of this happening in a few short few years. How do I even convey how grateful I am to you all? I don’t even know. Thanks for your support, your time, your enthusiasm. Everything. Every share, every like, comment it all helps more than anyone realizes. Thanks mostly I think for spreading your love of this topic to everyone else. I think as soon as we can pass that love that on, it helps people really appreciate what is out there and what amazing humans can do. 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. That is a terrific way to support too. The tile in the bottom left today will take you back to the video from last week. If you missed that, we had the Starship cryotests. SLS roll out, Astra launch and James Webb Space Telescope updates. 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.