SpaceX Starship Fully Stacked for the first time, Starliner and Starlink Updates

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Hey Marcus House with you here. Well, lastweek, we talked a lot about the crazy ramp-up
of speed at Starbase. This week though…This was beyond nuts each and every day. Starlink
flights are returning once again, but whythe delay? Along with that updates on the
delayed Starliner mission and also the unintentionalrotation of the International Space Station
which was much more extreme than first reported. Once again, what an unbelievable week it has
been at the build site at SpaceX’s Starbasefacility in Boca Chica. Each week we get mountains
of comments from people that haven’t reallyever followed this before, just amazed at
what they are seeing. The Starship and SuperHeavy booster collectively is the largest
rocket to ever be created and it will hopefullycomplete its test flight to orbit successfully
soon. Mainstream media really doesn’t coverthis amazing story unless of course there
is some sort of explosion. We here cover thisevery Saturday in detail, and this week has
been quite incredible with SpaceX continuingthat massive ramp-up of actively. Arguably
even faster than we were seeing last week. The biggest news I think is of course Booster
4. The first grid fin was lifted and attachedlast week just as we were preparing our video
to go live. Within a day all 3 others hadjoined the show. Under the cover of darkness,
they were mysteriously painted black withno photographers catching this happen. ErcX
tweeted a render of the new grid fin designsaying that it “Looks like non-folding Grid
Fins on BN4, guessing this is a case of bestpart is no part. ” Elon replied by saying
“Yes. ” This is interesting as we of courseknow that Falcon 9’s grid fins do indeed
fold. That feature is being eliminated onSuperheavy as they are another mechanism,
which adds unnecessary complexity, mass, andfailure modes. Musk also added that “Grid
fin designs work, but they don’t maximizepayload… Something with much more drag to
reduce terminal velocity & reduce landingpropellant might have better performance”.
So yes, it looks like the grid fin controlin general, could be up for further changes.
Anything that helps use less propellant forthe landing burn should mean an increase in
payload capacity. At 10am on Sunday morning Booster 4’s liquid
oxygen tank was lifted and mounted onto thebooster transport stand in preparation for
stacking. Then at just after 3pm the bridgecrane was attached to the methane section
and up that went onto the rest of the vehicleat 4:30pm, making this the third booster to
be fully stacked. More importantly of course,it is the first orbital-capable booster to
be created with the previous two being pathfinders. Almost a week ago, Elon shared a stunning
photograph of the enormous Super Heavy boosterprototype saying that SpaceX are “Installing
the Starship booster engines for first orbitalflight”. You can see just how massive the
booster is with humans for scale in the imageshown below. On Sunday evening, a massive
amount of progress was made with Booster 4’sengines as all 29 of them were mounted in
a single night. This included 9 Raptor Centerengines making up the full central cluster.
These are set up with one in the very middle,plus 8 circling the center. Together, these
provide the control authority for the Boosterin-flight via Thrust Vector Control, or Gimballing.
They are super important throughout the flightas without them, the Booster would have very
little roll control, meaning less overallauthority of the entire full-stack. I mentioned
29 engines earlier, so that means there arestill another 20 to address. Those are the
Raptor Boost variant. These engines are fixedin place, meaning no gimballing, but they
produce the majority of the thrust on ascent. The 20 of these engines were the core of what
was seen that late night. It sure providedquite a show for Nic Ansuini, who captured
nearly every engine that went into Booster4. Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter
as he’s capturing many photos out thereon a daily basis. Thanks Nic! So continuing
on, the 20 RBoosts as they’re called, wereinstalled in a timely manner along with the
9 other gimbling Raptors. On average it looksto be taking only 30 minutes to mount each
engine. This is astonishing considering 29engines isn’t even the goal for SpaceX currently.
We expect that Booster 5 and 6 will stillhave 29 engines whilst Booster 7 may possibly
include the 33 engine thrust structure. Thiswould be amazing as 4 additional engines added
would be providing even more thrust, and moreimportantly, it gets the booster closer to
the 7600-tonne thrust mark which Elon Musktargets as the ultimate goal. Faster engine
installs means faster testing, and SpaceXdoesn’t seem to be slowing down at all in
the near future. If you want a little moreinformation about each and every Raptor installed
on Booster 4, check out Artzius’ diagramon Twitter. He was up all night with Nic to
log and record the exact engines mounted. On Tuesday an intermittent road closure opened
at 9:30am, ending much later in the day at3:00pm. In that window Booster 4 was rolled
out of the Highbay at 11am and made its wayout of the facility and onto highway 4 30
minutes later. Elon shared these 2 photosalong with this stunning video as it rolled
out of the site, just showing the sheer sizeof this beast. Jack Beyer shared this photo
showing those 29 jam-packed engines. Thisis something I wouldn’t have thought possible
a few months ago. To cram all engines togetherthat close while still having gimbal ability
on the center block of 9 is outstanding. Justremember the outer 20 engines don’t have to
gimbal which is why they’re able to be justcentimeters from each other. As booster 4
entered the launch site, we were providedwith the amazing views of 2 boosters in the
same shot. A first for the Starship program. The obvious difference between Booster 3 and
4 is the gigantic grid fins coated in blackthere. Also added stiffeners on the interstage
so that it is strong enough to hold Ship 20on top. Now we move over to the Midbay where Ship
20’s tank section was rolled outside onMonday ahead of the attachment of the aft
flaps. The first flap was installed that afternoonand just a few hours later the second was
lifted into the air and attached as well. As we mentioned last week these aft flaps
are around 20% narrower & lighter than previousversions. Almost a week ago the first Raptor
Vacuum engine for Ship 20 was delivered tothe build site and removed from the truck
that night. The next day, another 2 were delivered,however, only one was removed, leaving the
white one. So, with those 2 that were deliveredand removed off the trucks along with the
one that was delivered several weeks ago,there were 3 Raptor Vac engines on-site for
Ship 20. All of those were then of courseinstalled onto S20’s skirt on August 4th.
Interestingly, this is the first time thatwe have seen this wide rim plate here. Is
this for general support of the vacuum engines,general stiffness, or to assist with avoiding
plasma spill during reentry? Perhaps all ofthe above. I’m not so sure, let me know
what you think below. Along with those 3 vacuumraptors, we of course see the 3 gimbling sea-level
engines in the center. Interestingly, in thatimage shared by Elon you can see that one
of these is labeled 57. Well, Booster 3 usedengines 57, 59, and 62 which leads me to believe
that S20 could be using the same 3. This isyet another new milestone as we’ve never
seen more than three Raptor engines on a Starshipprototype, and we’ve also never seen Raptor
vacuum engine installed before either. Alltogether ship 20 should be capable of producing
more than 1,250 metric tons of thrust in avacuum, which I believe makes it the most
powerful orbital rocket stage ever assembled. With Ship 20 moved into the highbay, it was
time for the nose cone mate. That was beingprepared at the low bay and after it was stacked
on top of the barrel last week, it was thentime to attach the forward flaps. On Sunday
morning installation was underway with itreceiving its first forward flap, sporting
those Thermal Protection System or TPS tileson the windward side. Then on Monday afternoon,
the second forward flap was lifted and sooninstalled. More and more TPS tiles were added
throughout the week and then it was time toroll the nose cone over to the Highbay at
9pm on Wednesday night. Just hours later theNose cone was hooked up to the bridge crane
and the lift was underway. Overnight thatwas stacked on top of the tank section, completing
the first ever orbital Starship. Now for quitesome time the community has been wondering
what payload will be placed inside this nosecone for its orbital flight. Thanks to ErcX
asking if there’s “Any payload for theOrbital attempt?” We now have an answer.
And interestingly it follows in the footstepsof SpaceX first orbital flight of Dragons
in 2010: Starship’s first payload will be…. . a wheel of cheese. So next we are going to head all the way over
to the orbital launch site to check out whathas been happening there. . . .
. . . we’ll talk more aboutthat in a moment but before that, a very big
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in the description below. . So yes, over to the orbital launch site we’ve
also seen a mountain of activity. Last weekend2 large cranes were connected to the Orbital
Launch Table via two load spreaders. The tablewas then lifted and placed down on the 6 pillars
a little over an hour later. Elon posted somestunning shots of the dangling table with
the caption, “Starbase is moving at Warp9. ” He also added that the table weighs
“370 tons” and that it “Needs to belevel & match booster fittings. ” Of course
on Wednesday morning the crane was then promptlyattached to B4 and after waiting for several
hours lifting finally began around 3pm. Onceit was out of the transport stand and into
the air, we finally had an unobstructed viewon how much the Raptors stick out. Then on
Thursday we saw Ship 20 roll out to the padin this amazing scene here by Cosmic Perspective
and NASASpaceFlight. Incredible coverage asalways. The full stack was looking like it
would go ahead that same day, but the windwas looking a little high. However, Friday
was the day when history was made, the stackingof the largest and most powerful rocket ever
built was about to commence. At 7am, S20 waslifted off the stand rising into the Texas
sky. In no time at all there is was, the historicfull stack together for its test fit. We were
just glued to the livestreams as everyonecelebrated with SpaceX playing fly me to the
moon over the loudspeakers. Just imagine seeingthis colossal beast lift off as rendered beautifully
by 3D Daniel here. So there it was as shownby Brandan Lewis here with the rest of the
updates at the time. The fall stack was shortlived, however. Down it came again just moments
later before being rolled back to the highbay.
Just incredible shots from everyone at Starbasecapturing these firsts!
Additionally, more black pipes have continuedto be delivered this week for the catching
arm system. When asked on twitter “If there’sa render of how the catch of the booster will
work?” Elon replied saying that he “Willpost once we have a decent simulation. ”
However, and if it’s an animated simulationthat you want, the amazing ErcX has you covered,
publishing his own render of the landing thatElon himself said is “very close to real”.
He added that the “Arms are able to moveduring descent to match the exact booster
position. The catch point is off to the side,in case the catch fails as you don’t want
to hit the launch mount. The Booster is transferredback to the launch mount for the next flight
with a turnaround of under one hour. ”Now part 1 of Tim Dodd’s interview and tour
of the StarBase facility came out this weekas I’m sure most of you are already aware.
A few interesting points I thought were interesting. Firstly the grid fins for the Superheavy booster
will be permanently extended as mentionedbefore, but they are now electronically driven.
That is a change from hydraulics used on theFalcon 9 booster. SpaceX has also decided
to remove the hot gas thrusters from the boosterand instead will use the ullage gas from the
tanks for attitude control by having fourvents spaced 90° apart. This gas would need
to be vented either way, and now it can douseful work to the vehicle instead while also
eliminating the mass and complexity of thehot gas thrusters. Furthermore the Raptor
version 2 is in early stages of developmentwith some subcomponents being built with testing
of a completed Version 2 possibly within thenext month. They are aiming to eliminate a
dedicated stage separation system and willinstead rely on angular momentum to separate
the stages similar to Starlink deployment. I imagine the booster would simply pitch up
right on engine cutoff to induce a slow rotation,separation would occur and then the two would
drift apart for a few seconds before the stagesfire up. Elon also dropped some interesting
numbers on the go: Apparently, the boosteris planned to hold 3,600 tons of propellant
and the dry mass is already stunningly light. Only around 160 tons. Each of the grid fins
are currently around 3. The residual propellantrequired after landing is planned to be at
about 20 tons. Quite a bit below the usual1 to 2 percent you would expect. Raptor version
2 is expected to have around 298 bar in themain combustion chamber which will result
in quite a low area ratio. There is loadsmore information crammed into that interview
so do check out Tims video when you get achance.
So yes, who knows what we’ll be seeing inanother week. We’ll have a lot more to talk
about around Starbase next Saturday I’msure. Now in last week’s episode, we covered the
docking of the long-awaited Russian Naukamodule with the International Space Station.
Not long after docking with the Zvezda servicemodule, Nauka unexpectedly fired its thrusters
for around 15 minutes trying to pull away. It has since become clear this week that the
gravity of this situation was actually moresignificant than initially thought. The entire
space outpost rotated much further than the45 degrees widely reported but very slowly.
So slow, the crew on board would have beenlargely unaware when the issue began. In fact,
it turns out the station actually rotatedaround 540 degrees or one and a half rotations
with it being finally stopped while upsidedown. Both the thrusters on the Zvezda module
and on the Progress MS-17 spacecraft wereused to arrest the slow spin, then reverse
it back some 180 degrees. Actually, ScottManley did this simulation with Blender to
demonstrate the rotation observed. A linkto that is in the description. The thing I
guess that is most concerning to me aboutthe incident is that it could have been much
worse had the thrust capability of the vehiclebeen higher, or if there had been much more
fuel onboard. I wouldn’t be at all surprisedto see a number of new policies come into
play to ensure such a thing can’t happenagain. While NASA insisted that the crew onboard
the International Space Station were neverin serious danger, this event caused the initial
delay to the launch of Starliner’s orbitalflight test 2. Sadly, before the launch attempt
that was supposed to be on Tuesday, Starlinerran into some problems of its own. Due to
unexpected valve position indications on Starlinerspropulsion system, there was an indefinite
delay announced. That also required the entirerocket to be returned back to the Vertical
Integration Facility for detailed inspection. Based on what we’ve heard since then, Starliner
news to be taken off so there could be substantialwork to be done so this may push the launch
back months. As always it is best to be certainthat everything is fine before risking a launch,
but yes, it would have been great to see themission take place. Greg Scott was excitedly
capturing everything before the scrub. Justkeep in mind how much time it takes everyone
to be out at the pad to bring these shotsto the world even when a launch doesn’t
happen. Thanks for the dedication there Greg!Starlink launches are back as of next week
as well. It has been a long time between dedicatedlaunches with the last one going up over 10
weeks ago now. True, there were a few deployedin the Transporter 2 mission at the start
of July, but why the lack of launches allof a sudden? I’ve had no shortage of questions
about this lately with many people worriedthis was due to legal action. The delay actually
hasn’t been due to the lawsuit filed byViasat as far as I am aware. That lawsuit
was rejected anyway by the federal appealscourt a few weeks ago. Not that I was overly
surprised by that. When the competition istrying to slow you down, that is a good sign
that industry disruption is coming. The delayis actually because there were no more launches
needed for the first initial shell to supportnear-global coverage. There are actually four
more shells to go on top of this eventuallyif SpaceX are not restricted in some way.
Before that, the next step is to place setsof satellites into new orbital planes with
the first of these launching from VandenbergSpace Force Base. Why is that a big deal?
Well, because these will be the first dedicatedbatches that will be placed into polar orbits.
This will allow coverage to the remainderof the planet not served by those that were
placed into 53-degree inclination planes. As you can see, this covers the vast majority
of the world, but if you live above or belowthe shell, there is no coverage. These new
polar satellites should finally have laserinter-satellite systems unlike those that
have come before as suggested by Elon backin January. The idea is that all new satellites
will have this capability as well from early2022 onward. That will mean that SpaceX can
pass data between satellites as well as groundstations rather than the current bouncing
up and down to the nearest ground station,making it a true network. In the majority
of more populated areas, a simple transferof data up and back down is really all that
is needed. For transmission between much moredistant locations, the laser network can come
into play in the future, and that is reallywhere the main benefit of Starlink comes in.
Interestingly as well, the Starlink app hashad a significant upgrade adding the feature
that makes it easier to find clear areas ofsky to diagnose connectivity problems. Already
the service is being utilized by over 90,000users over 12 countries. Given that we are
still in the beta phase, this is impressive. So yes, keep an eye out for the next launch
this coming week. So yes, that is another action packed week.
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