SpaceX Starship fires up & tower arms go on, NASA to select second HLS, SLS Fully Stacked
This video is sponsored by Brilliant. Hey,Hey Marcus House with you here and wow havewe had a heck of a lot of action at the orbitallaunch site with the ground support systemand launch tower additions. Also some enginesfinally firing up this week! We have somepossibly unexpected news that indicates thatthere could once again be two companies selectedfor NASA’s Human Landing System. Orion wason the move to finally mate up with the SLS. Lucy launched exactly one week ago but a littlehiccup to address there, and Soyuz MS-18 returnswith its film crew. Welcome back to another week of updates fromStarbase which if you are unfamiliar is whereSpaceX is constructing something quite unprecedented. What you are looking at here is the StarshipSuperheavy stack. The largest rocket evercreated. This is Ship 20, the first Starshipprototype designed to be fully orbital. PreviousStarships up to this point have been launchingboosterless and merely been passing the 10kilometers mark. Along with Ship 20 there,covered with the first thermal protectionsystem which incorporates the heat shieldtiles all over its windward side, we haveBooster 4. This is the colossal 69 meter tallbehemoth that will launch the Starship wellout of the atmosphere hopefully getting itpart of the way to orbit. Then, it will separatefrom the second Starship stage, turn around,and do the first test boostback burn. Similarto what we’ve witnessed so many times withthe much much smaller Falcon 9 booster, Booster4 will make its way back to a designated targetoffshore to ignite its central engines onelast time and splash down gently hopefullyon target in the ocean. Once again, this isan expendable test, but future prototypeswon’t be. To get ready for the first launch,SpaceX has been preparing all of the groundsystems required and this week, both the GSEtank farm and the launch tower have had someinteresting developments. Now, a point of interesting debate right nowis this here. Thanks to BocaChicaGal and NASASpaceFlightMary captured images of the first massivepropellant tank to arrive at the Orbital tankfarm. But wait, isn’t this what the GroundSupport Equipment or GSE tanks are for? Youknow, the set of 8 massive tanks that we’vewatched evolving for most of the year? Wellyes, this has been an interesting developmentright. Well, look again, there is not justone of these, nope, there are two of them. The first to roll to the launch site madeits way down on Monday, with the second rollingdown a few days later. What is interestingabout these tanks is that they are all premanufactured. Unlike the GSE tanks that SpaceXhave been creating from their own steel andmanufacturing processes, these have been suppliedand shipped into Starbase. These are bothtanks to hold methane and we are still tryingto determine exactly how these will be usedat the orbital launch site. Just check outthe length of the first one rolled into place. These tanks will certainly remain on theirside, but the big question still is; exactlywhat are these used for? Are these simplyextra storage tanks for the methane? Perhapspart of an intermediate holding tank to allowfor rapid detanking? What do you think? Letme know in the comments. Along with this, we’ve had SpaceX roll outcryo shell number 8 to the tank farm earlyin the week which was one of the last tworemaining cryoshells. A few hours later, thecrane was attached, and it was hoisted upinto the air bringing it down over GSE tanknumber 8 which is one of the two methane tanks. When the second horizontal tank was movingto the launch site, behind that rolled inthe final cryo shell number 7. Just like theprevious one this was promptly lifted intothe air a few hours later and was placed overGSE tank 2, one of the two liquid nitrogentanks. So there we are, all of the shellsare finally in place and as shown here byBrendan Lewis, Stage Zero is really closeto being finalised for the first flight. Assuming FAA Approval, Elon Musk is confidentthis could be as early as November if thetesting process continues smoothly. Now I’ve had a few comments asking whatthis massive wall is here with many sayingthey haven’t seen this before. Well, actually,you would have seen it many times, just notquite so often from this perspective perhaps. This is a huge dirt wall or berm. Its purpose!?To shield the grounds support tanks from thelanding pad. It is assumed that this willactually continue right around to also provideprotection from the Orbital Launch Tower,but work is yet to be completed there. Itdoesn’t look quite so massive from the airbut yes, perspective can be a tad distorted. Here is that first tank from above thanksto RGV Aerial photography. There’s quite a lot of news regarding theorbital launch tower, too. Now usually wewouldn’t be especially excited about a launchtower being built but this is no ordinarytower. These shots by Starship Gazer showMechazilla, Stage zero of the Starship Stack. Mechazilla will feature these two massivecatch arms to allow both starship and thebooster stage to be caught right out of theair and restack them ready for the next flights. Along with this, the catch arms act as a craneso that will not be required either. I seriouslycannot wait to see this feature tested. Tostart with, all of the skates that the carriagesection will use to run vertically along thetower rails have been installed, and alsohere the cable chain that will feed powerand hydraulics to the carriage and catchingarms was put in place too. On Sunday night,the LR11350 crane rotated to be in line withthe carriage and arms. Later the next day,the crane was hooked up in preparation forthe lift onto the tower. On Tuesday afternoonthe entire carriage and arm parts combinedwere slightly lifted up off the red beamsto allow the workers to open up the clawsthat wrap around the tower. The next day itwas all hoisted up and attached to the tower. Just take a look at this! The future is turningout to be even more sci-fi than we could haveever imagined. Over at suborbital Pad B, Ship 20’s testingregime was cranked up a gear. On Monday, Maryreceived an alert for what seemed to be goingto be a static fire attempt later that day. Then that night, Ship 20, the first orbital-classship, survived its first test involving propellantand the Raptors. Interestingly, this is actuallythe first test involving Raptors at Starbasesince booster 3’s static fire in mid-July,almost exactly three months ago. After severalhours passed and with just 20 minutes left,Ship 20 successfully completed its first Raptorpreburner test of both a single vacuum andsingle sea level Raptor at around 11:40pm. That vacuum-optimized Raptor with a much largernozzle was actually the first of its kindto undergo any kind of test while installedon a Starship prototype. Soon after the pre-burnertest, the vehicle started to detank and theroad was reopened without any issues, indicatingthat the test was successful. Then on Thursday,another alert notice was delivered for a staticfire attempt of Ship 20. At 5pm the road wasclosed and a few hours later the tank farmstarted to spool up. The engine chill ventthen started up at 7pm with the 10 minutesiren sounding not too long after. For thefirst time ever, Ship 20 completed a fullStatic fire using a single Vacuum raptor engine. Following that, the SpaceX twitter accountposted a video from their own camera withthe caption, “First firing of a Raptor vacuumengine integrated onto a Starship. ” Aroundhalf an hour later a second static fire wasattempted of both engines, however that wasaborted just before ignition. Even after allthis, SpaceX still wasn’t done for the night. John Kraus posted a tweet asking Elon if theywere “Going for another static fire tonight?”to which he responded with, “hopefully. ”Just 14 minutes after that tweet Ship 20 completedthat second static fire using both enginesat 8:18pm. The depress vent then occurredminutes later indicating that testing wasfinally concluded for the night. Now we didsee a few tiles fly off the vehicle duringthese static fires. Toby Li asked Elon ontwitter whether or not “this will be a majorissue for the orbital launch or if the teamalready has a solution. ” Elon musk repliedsaying, “No, we expect some tiles to shakeloose during static fires. ” This is oneof the many benefits of SpaceX using stainlesssteel for the body of the ship as a few missingtiles during reentry won’t lead to a failureof the vehicle. We didn’t notice a lot of progress at thebuild site this week. Work continues on thenew massive high bay, and what we believeto be Ship 22’s aft dome was sleeved. So yes, we are probably all familiar by nowthat after NASA awarded SpaceX with fundingfor a Starship lunar lander, everything hasbeen on hold after protests by Blue Originas well as initially Dynetics. This legalgame has been going on now for several monthsand we’ve all been wondering where thiswas going to go. Well, this news dropped midweek with the Senate Appropriations Committeenow directing NASA to select a second rocketagency to create an alternate crewed landerfor moon missions. Sounds a little familiar,doesn’t it? Initially we had SpaceX in themix with the National Team led by Blue Origin,and Dynetics. NASA chose SpaceX of coursebecause their solution fit within the budgetconstraints provided, and met the goals betterthan the other options. This is the strangething though. They’ve told NASA to selectanother, but have at the same time offeredonly a tiny increase in the funding. NASAsreasons for not selecting more than one agencyinitially was due to them only planning andbudgeting for one option. In fact, the committeehas quite fiercely shot back at NASA withthe report stating that “NASA’s rhetoricof blaming Congress and the Committee forthe lack of resources needed to support twoHLS teams rings hollow”. Obviously the senatethere doesn’t agree that NASA requires muchmore funding to have two systems running inparallel. NASA’s Administrator Bill Nelsonall the same seems reasonably confident thatNASA will have the funds that it needs forthe project as he has stated in an interviewin the last week of September this year. AllI know is that we want there to be some cleargoals and targets so that all involved canjust get on with it. Let’s hope this meansthat everything soon unlocks so SpaceX cancontinue development and select the othercompany. Although Blue Origin’s recent publicand frankly undiplomatic tantrums have causedthe recent delays, you have to wonder whatwill happen if they do indeed get selectedas a second option. I mean, the budget isstill pretty much the same, and Blue Origincame in no where near the requirements there. It’s all very well to protest, but you stillneed to deliver an option that is feasiblefor the budget offered. Don’t get me wrong. I’d very much like to see multiple projectsbeing provided side by side. But can thishappen with the budget proposed? What do youthink? I’m very interested in your opinionson this. I’m also really wanting to know your thoughtson a brand new midweek video that I’m releasingon Tuesday. In this one we are exploring thelogistics for the first possible Mars returnmissions with Starship. The interesting partthough, is that we can tackle this even beforein-situ resource utilization systems to refillthe ship on Mars has been established. I thinkthe options there might be quite surprising. Make sure you are subscribed below so youget notified. Really appreciate your supportof these deeper dive videos and would loveto know what you think. Thanks for watching,liking and sharing all these for me. Can youbelieve we are up close to 400,000 subscribersnow? That is all because of you and your enthusiasmfor these topics. A little hiccup with the Lucy mission nowheading on her way to visit the Trojan asteroids. This mission was launched right when lastweek’s video was going live, so we didn’thave footage of that. The launch went perfectlyto plan of course being launched right onschedule at the first opportunity. Great shotshere as always by the amazing Greg Scott!This week though, NASA had advised that theremay be an issue with one of the two 7. 3 meterdiameter solar panels, with it appearing tohave not “fully latched”. These solar panelsare very sizable, however once LUCY reachesits destination, these will only be able toproduce around half of a kilowatt of powerdue to the massive distance from the sun. Close to earth right now they can produceup to 18 kilowatts just for comparison! Thespacecraft is perfectly healthy right now,the team at NASA is currently investigatingthat latch problem and they have high confidencethat they will be able to fully deploy thetroublesome solar array. As with anythingof this importance, careful analysis of theproblem is key before trying out various solutions. It was a very early Tuesday morning move ofthe Orion spacecraft to the vehicle assemblybuilding at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center thisweek. Orion, seen here integrated with itssolid propellant launch abort tower, is nowfully fueled with Hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. That is of course the highly toxic propellantsthat are required for the main engine whichalso happens to be a shuttle era orbital maneuveringsystem engine. The four hour journey fromthe Launch Abort System Facility saw Oriontemporarily residing in High Bay 4 awaitingthe lift across to High Bay 3 where the SpaceLaunch System heavy lift rocket sits perchedon its mobile launch platform. The team at NASA had 2 weeks ago mated Orion’sStage Adapter to the interim cryogenic propulsionstage which sits on top of the colossal SLS. This was the last piece that needed to beadded before Orion and its launch abort systemgo top. What I think it most interesting herethough is that this stage adapter is filledwith 10 of these shoebox-sized CubeSats. Theyare going to deploy when Orion separates whileon its trajectory out to the moon, and theywill gather valuable data to aid in our returnto the Moon and in the future beyond that. Since the move of Orion it has been finallylifted up to be integrated with the SLS. Herewe are, the full stack being prepared forflight. This is going to be amazing to seein action. If it beats a full stack Starshipto Orbit, this will be the biggest rocketto have ever launched. As far as we know,this is scheduled for liftoff early in 2022with the Artemis 1 mission. That will be thesecond flight of an Orion capsule and thefirst uncrewed test flight of the Space LaunchSystem. This includes the service module whichwas absent back in 2014 during ExplorationFlight Test 1. Wow. 2014 getting close toeight years ago. Who would have thought we’dstill be awaiting the second test mission!?Anyway, it seems like there is not long towait now for the test flight. Still quitea way off from the first crewed mission though. That journey will send humans out beyond themoon and back via a distant retrograde orbitbut that’s not scheduled until 2023. Thatwill however mark an incredible milestone,with it being the longest distance humanityhas ever travelled from earth. The currentrecord there was set by the Apollo 13 crewon April 14th in 1970 ironically as a resultof the mishaps with that mission. This sawthem just above 400,000 kilometers or nearly250,000 miles away from Earth. While I thinkwe can all agree that it shouldn’t have takenover 50 years for this record to be broken,at least now we are finally seeing a globalrevival for space exploration! Keeping inmind of course that China and Russia are bothworking towards crewed Moon landings, Indiais preparing for its first crewed space flightand so many new private players are planningto join the orbital launch market too. Theseare all going to be truly great moments inhistory to witness, and we are only just rampingup. The next few years with everything goingon in the space industry is going to be veryinteresting indeed. We have Rocketlab that is soon going to attemptits next recovery mission with Electron. Aftersplashing down in the, Electron’s firststage will be recovered by a ship and transportedback to Rocket Lab’s production facilityfor testing and analysis. What will be differentabout this one is that for the first timea helicopter will track and observe Electron’sdescent in preparation for future missions. In the future helicopters will intercept andattempt to catch the returning rocket boostersright out of the air as they descend witha parachute. So yes, this mission is goingto be exciting to watch in a few weeks time. As shared here via Rocketlab, the red is forrecovery and the current target for the launchis on November 11th, just a little under 3weeks away. So we also have an urgent dash to the InternationalSpace station for a cardiac surgeon. CosmonautIvanov has lost consciousness in orbit andneeds emergency surgery. Well, that’s thepremise of the movie “Challenge”. In orderto capture the footage for hte movie, ActressYulia Peresild and Producer Klim Shipenkotook off to the ISS on board Soyuz MS-19 onOct the 5th. Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy alsohas a starring role in the film, being theunfortunate soul needing the medical intervention. After 12 days in orbit, for Yulia and Klimit was a wrap on filming and time to headhome on October 17th along with Oleg who hadspent a total of 191 days orbiting earth. In an unexpected turn of events the day beforethe crew’s departure, a scheduled thrusterfiring test of MS-18 continued beyond theintended duration and there was once againa loss of orientation of the space station. We’ll talk about that in justa second but first thank you to Brilliantfor their support of not only this video here,but so many over the entire channel. If youdon’t know what Brilliant is, it is a wonderfulservice that unlocks the ability to see mathand science in a new way. That fits extremelywell with the topics we cover every video. We love everything rocket science, and themath involved in all of this epic engineering. You’d be surprised how much relates to thesetopics as well. You can start off by gettinga basic understanding of gravity and keepon that path right through to complex orbits. Perhaps you are interested in the Chemistrybehind rocket engines? Check out the scienceof transforming matter, and before you knowit you’d be even more in awe of chemicalreactions like this. There is just so muchto explore here, and it is all covered inintricate detail crafted by award-winningteachers and professionals. Just select anytopic that seems interesting to you, and jumpright into it. If you are also naturally curiousand want to explore as well, do yourself afavour and check out Brilliant. Supportingthem, also supports me here. Just head tobrilliant. org/MarcusHouse, and the first 200people will get 20% off the first year ofBrilliant Premium. The link is in the description. So yes another strange loss of control systemswith MS-18. It took some 30 minutes or soto regain control to put the InternationalSpace station back into a stable configuration. The crew were safe throughout this event andinvestigations into the cause continue. It’sa little worrisome especially with the recentissues with the Nauka module accidentallyfiring its thrusters, sending the space stationinto a spin in late July. Hopefully this isn’ta continuing trend. The next day, expedition65 was coming to a close. Yulia, Klim andOleg said their farewells and boarded MS-18which was docked to the Nauka module. Withundocking completed, MS-18 slowly backed away,performing those maneuvers necessary to exitthe safety zone that surrounds the InternationalSpace station and set a course back to earth. Lasting just over 4 and a half minutes, theretrograde deorbit burn slowed MS-18 by 128meters per second. With the deorbit burn completedand detaching its upper and lower orbitaland propulsion modules, the scene was setfor reentry. Slamming through the earth’supper atmosphere, the crew capsule was soonspotted safely drifting downwards over thenext several minutes suspended under a gloriouscanopy of parachute to its grand finale inthe landing zone in Kazakhstan. With a plumeof dust from the braking rockets they weresafely on the ground! The Search and recoverypersonnel were quickly onsite with crew extractionexecuted as planned. After initial healthchecks were completed, the crew were thenflown to the nearby city of Karaganda beforeheading back to the highly restricted militarytraining facility of “Star City” northeastof Moscow. Besides the movie itself, I’mreally looking forward to the outtakes! Itwould be really interesting seeing what challengesthey faced trying to produce this contentin microgravity. So there we go there was no shortage of interestingupdates to share this week. 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