SpaceX Starship fires up & tower arms go on, NASA to select second HLS, SLS Fully Stacked

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Hey Marcus House with you here and wow havewe had a heck of a lot of action at the orbital
launch site with the ground support systemand launch tower additions. Also some engines
finally firing up this week! We have somepossibly unexpected news that indicates that
there could once again be two companies selectedfor NASA’s Human Landing System. Orion was
on the move to finally mate up with the SLS. Lucy launched exactly one week ago but a little
hiccup 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 where
SpaceX is constructing something quite unprecedented. What you are looking at here is the Starship
Superheavy stack. The largest rocket evercreated. This is Ship 20, the first Starship
prototype designed to be fully orbital. PreviousStarships up to this point have been launching
boosterless and merely been passing the 10kilometers mark. Along with Ship 20 there,
covered with the first thermal protectionsystem which incorporates the heat shield
tiles all over its windward side, we haveBooster 4. This is the colossal 69 meter tall
behemoth that will launch the Starship wellout of the atmosphere hopefully getting it
part 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 with
the much much smaller Falcon 9 booster, Booster4 will make its way back to a designated target
offshore to ignite its central engines onelast time and splash down gently hopefully
on target in the ocean. Once again, this isan expendable test, but future prototypes
won’t be. To get ready for the first launch,SpaceX has been preparing all of the ground
systems required and this week, both the GSEtank farm and the launch tower have had some
interesting developments. Now, a point of interesting debate right now
is this here. Thanks to BocaChicaGal and NASASpaceFlightMary captured images of the first massive
propellant tank to arrive at the Orbital tankfarm. But wait, isn’t this what the Ground
Support Equipment or GSE tanks are for? Youknow, the set of 8 massive tanks that we’ve
watched evolving for most of the year? Wellyes, this has been an interesting development
right. 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 rolling
down a few days later. What is interestingabout these tanks is that they are all pre
manufactured. Unlike the GSE tanks that SpaceXhave been creating from their own steel and
manufacturing processes, these have been suppliedand shipped into Starbase. These are both
tanks to hold methane and we are still tryingto determine exactly how these will be used
at 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; exactly
what are these used for? Are these simplyextra storage tanks for the methane? Perhaps
part of an intermediate holding tank to allowfor rapid detanking? What do you think? Let
me know in the comments. Along with this, we’ve had SpaceX roll out
cryo shell number 8 to the tank farm earlyin the week which was one of the last two
remaining cryoshells. A few hours later, thecrane was attached, and it was hoisted up
into 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 in
the final cryo shell number 7. Just like theprevious one this was promptly lifted into
the air a few hours later and was placed overGSE tank 2, one of the two liquid nitrogen
tanks. So there we are, all of the shellsare finally in place and as shown here by
Brendan 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 the
testing process continues smoothly. Now I’ve had a few comments asking what
this 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 the
landing pad. It is assumed that this willactually continue right around to also provide
protection from the Orbital Launch Tower,but work is yet to be completed there. It
doesn’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 we
wouldn’t be especially excited about a launchtower being built but this is no ordinary
tower. These shots by Starship Gazer showMechazilla, Stage zero of the Starship Stack.
Mechazilla will feature these two massivecatch arms to allow both starship and the
booster 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 seriously
cannot wait to see this feature tested. Tostart with, all of the skates that the carriage
section will use to run vertically along thetower rails have been installed, and also
here the cable chain that will feed powerand hydraulics to the carriage and catching
arms was put in place too. On Sunday night,the LR11350 crane rotated to be in line with
the carriage and arms. Later the next day,the crane was hooked up in preparation for
the lift onto the tower. On Tuesday afternoonthe entire carriage and arm parts combined
were slightly lifted up off the red beamsto allow the workers to open up the claws
that 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 have
ever imagined. Over at suborbital Pad B, Ship 20’s testing
regime was cranked up a gear. On Monday, Maryreceived an alert for what seemed to be going
to be a static fire attempt later that day. Then that night, Ship 20, the first orbital-class
ship, survived its first test involving propellantand the Raptors. Interestingly, this is actually
the 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 and
single sea level Raptor at around 11:40pm. That vacuum-optimized Raptor with a much larger
nozzle was actually the first of its kindto undergo any kind of test while installed
on a Starship prototype. Soon after the pre-burnertest, the vehicle started to detank and the
road 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 was
closed and a few hours later the tank farmstarted to spool up. The engine chill vent
then started up at 7pm with the 10 minutesiren sounding not too long after. For the
first 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 with
the caption, “First firing of a Raptor vacuumengine integrated onto a Starship. ” Around
half an hour later a second static fire wasattempted of both engines, however that was
aborted 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 completed
that second static fire using both enginesat 8:18pm. The depress vent then occurred
minutes later indicating that testing wasfinally concluded for the night. Now we did
see a few tiles fly off the vehicle duringthese static fires. Toby Li asked Elon on
twitter whether or not “this will be a majorissue for the orbital launch or if the team
already has a solution. ” Elon musk repliedsaying, “No, we expect some tiles to shake
loose during static fires. ” This is oneof the many benefits of SpaceX using stainless
steel for the body of the ship as a few missingtiles during reentry won’t lead to a failure
of the vehicle. We didn’t notice a lot of progress at the
build site this week. Work continues on thenew massive high bay, and what we believe
to be Ship 22’s aft dome was sleeved. So yes, we are probably all familiar by now
that after NASA awarded SpaceX with fundingfor a Starship lunar lander, everything has
been on hold after protests by Blue Originas well as initially Dynetics. This legal
game has been going on now for several monthsand we’ve all been wondering where this
was going to go. Well, this news dropped midweek with the Senate Appropriations Committee
now directing NASA to select a second rocketagency to create an alternate crewed lander
for moon missions. Sounds a little familiar,doesn’t it? Initially we had SpaceX in the
mix with the National Team led by Blue Origin,and Dynetics. NASA chose SpaceX of course
because their solution fit within the budgetconstraints provided, and met the goals better
than the other options. This is the strangething though. They’ve told NASA to select
another, but have at the same time offeredonly a tiny increase in the funding. NASAs
reasons for not selecting more than one agencyinitially was due to them only planning and
budgeting for one option. In fact, the committeehas quite fiercely shot back at NASA with
the report stating that “NASA’s rhetoricof blaming Congress and the Committee for
the lack of resources needed to support twoHLS teams rings hollow”. Obviously the senate
there doesn’t agree that NASA requires muchmore funding to have two systems running in
parallel. NASA’s Administrator Bill Nelsonall the same seems reasonably confident that
NASA will have the funds that it needs forthe project as he has stated in an interview
in the last week of September this year. AllI know is that we want there to be some clear
goals and targets so that all involved canjust get on with it. Let’s hope this means
that everything soon unlocks so SpaceX cancontinue development and select the other
company. Although Blue Origin’s recent publicand frankly undiplomatic tantrums have caused
the recent delays, you have to wonder whatwill happen if they do indeed get selected
as a second option. I mean, the budget isstill pretty much the same, and Blue Origin
came in no where near the requirements there. It’s all very well to protest, but you still
need 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 this
happen with the budget proposed? What do youthink? I’m very interested in your opinions
on this. I’m also really wanting to know your thoughts
on a brand new midweek video that I’m releasingon Tuesday. In this one we are exploring the
logistics for the first possible Mars returnmissions with Starship. The interesting part
though, is that we can tackle this even beforein-situ resource utilization systems to refill
the 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 support
of 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 subscribers
now? 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’t
have footage of that. The launch went perfectlyto plan of course being launched right on
schedule 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 meter
diameter solar panels, with it appearing tohave not “fully latched”. These solar panels
are very sizable, however once LUCY reachesits destination, these will only be able to
produce 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! The
spacecraft is perfectly healthy right now,the team at NASA is currently investigating
that latch problem and they have high confidencethat they will be able to fully deploy the
troublesome solar array. As with anythingof this importance, careful analysis of the
problem is key before trying out various solutions. It was a very early Tuesday morning move of
the Orion spacecraft to the vehicle assemblybuilding at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center this
week. Orion, seen here integrated with itssolid propellant launch abort tower, is now
fully fueled with Hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. That is of course the highly toxic propellants
that are required for the main engine whichalso happens to be a shuttle era orbital maneuvering
system engine. The four hour journey fromthe Launch Abort System Facility saw Orion
temporarily residing in High Bay 4 awaitingthe lift across to High Bay 3 where the Space
Launch 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 propulsion
stage which sits on top of the colossal SLS. This was the last piece that needed to be
added before Orion and its launch abort systemgo top. What I think it most interesting here
though is that this stage adapter is filledwith 10 of these shoebox-sized CubeSats. They
are going to deploy when Orion separates whileon its trajectory out to the moon, and they
will 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. Here
we are, the full stack being prepared forflight. This is going to be amazing to see
in action. If it beats a full stack Starshipto Orbit, this will be the biggest rocket
to have ever launched. As far as we know,this is scheduled for liftoff early in 2022
with the Artemis 1 mission. That will be thesecond flight of an Orion capsule and the
first uncrewed test flight of the Space LaunchSystem. This includes the service module which
was absent back in 2014 during ExplorationFlight Test 1. Wow. 2014 getting close to
eight 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 quite
a way off from the first crewed mission though. That journey will send humans out beyond the
moon and back via a distant retrograde orbitbut that’s not scheduled until 2023. That
will however mark an incredible milestone,with it being the longest distance humanity
has ever travelled from earth. The currentrecord there was set by the Apollo 13 crew
on April 14th in 1970 ironically as a resultof the mishaps with that mission. This saw
them just above 400,000 kilometers or nearly250,000 miles away from Earth. While I think
we 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 in
mind of course that China and Russia are bothworking towards crewed Moon landings, India
is preparing for its first crewed space flightand so many new private players are planning
to join the orbital launch market too. Theseare all going to be truly great moments in
history to witness, and we are only just rampingup. The next few years with everything going
on in the space industry is going to be veryinteresting indeed.
We have Rocketlab that is soon going to attemptits next recovery mission with Electron. After
splashing down in the, Electron’s firststage will be recovered by a ship and transported
back to Rocket Lab’s production facilityfor testing and analysis. What will be different
about this one is that for the first timea helicopter will track and observe Electron’s
descent in preparation for future missions. In the future helicopters will intercept and
attempt to catch the returning rocket boostersright out of the air as they descend with
a 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 launch
is on November 11th, just a little under 3weeks away.
So we also have an urgent dash to the InternationalSpace station for a cardiac surgeon. Cosmonaut
Ivanov has lost consciousness in orbit andneeds emergency surgery. Well, that’s the
premise of the movie “Challenge”. In orderto capture the footage for hte movie, Actress
Yulia Peresild and Producer Klim Shipenkotook off to the ISS on board Soyuz MS-19 on
Oct the 5th. Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy alsohas a starring role in the film, being the
unfortunate soul needing the medical intervention. After 12 days in orbit, for Yulia and Klim
it was a wrap on filming and time to headhome on October 17th along with Oleg who had
spent a total of 191 days orbiting earth. In an unexpected turn of events the day before
the crew’s departure, a scheduled thrusterfiring test of MS-18 continued beyond the
intended 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 Brilliant
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So yes another strange loss of control systems
with MS-18. It took some 30 minutes or soto regain control to put the International
Space station back into a stable configuration. The crew were safe throughout this event and
investigations into the cause continue. It’sa little worrisome especially with the recent
issues with the Nauka module accidentallyfiring its thrusters, sending the space station
into a spin in late July. Hopefully this isn’ta continuing trend. The next day, expedition
65 was coming to a close. Yulia, Klim andOleg said their farewells and boarded MS-18
which was docked to the Nauka module. Withundocking completed, MS-18 slowly backed away,
performing those maneuvers necessary to exitthe safety zone that surrounds the International
Space station and set a course back to earth. Lasting just over 4 and a half minutes, the
retrograde deorbit burn slowed MS-18 by 128meters per second. With the deorbit burn completed
and detaching its upper and lower orbitaland propulsion modules, the scene was set
for reentry. Slamming through the earth’supper atmosphere, the crew capsule was soon
spotted safely drifting downwards over thenext several minutes suspended under a glorious
canopy of parachute to its grand finale inthe landing zone in Kazakhstan. With a plume
of dust from the braking rockets they weresafely on the ground! The Search and recovery
personnel were quickly onsite with crew extractionexecuted as planned. After initial health
checks were completed, the crew were thenflown to the nearby city of Karaganda before
heading back to the highly restricted militarytraining facility of “Star City” northeast
of Moscow. Besides the movie itself, I’mreally looking forward to the outtakes! It
would be really interesting seeing what challengesthey faced trying to produce this content
in microgravity. So there we go there was no shortage of interesting
updates to share this week. As always, thesupport provided by these incredible individuals
right here is always amazing. Thanks so muchfor supporting the team and I in creating
these videos for you every week, and of coursefor subscribing, and liking what we do. You
have no idea how much that means to all ofus. Most importantly, thanks for watching
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Remember as well we have that mid-week videocoming out that I think you’ll love. Should
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