3. Friday, Aug.6, 2021; 9:30-11 am PDT (11:30 am-1 pm CDT, 12:30-2 pm EDT): We welcome Philip Bracken, VP of engineering at Spaceflight, to discuss the company’s launch services.
4. Sunday, Aug.8, 2021; 12-1:30 pm PDT (3-4:30 pm EDT, 2-3:30 pm CDT): Welcome to OPEN LINES where you the listener decide the topics. Calls us at 1-866-687-7223 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All calls, all emails welcome but keep it space, science, tech related.
Michael described MOXIE, told us how it worked, compared it to a fuel cell and electrolysis. We talked with our guest about scaling MOXIE up for humans on Mars, rocket launches, even beneath the surface Martian settlements. Our guest described the MOXIE strategy for when humans are on Mars, making a three year supply of O2 prior to their arrival and the goal for MOXIE. When asked how much O2 MOXIE could make in a day, he said it was more of a function of the power. He described their current constraints on power but said if they had 1,000watts of power, they would easily be able to make sufficient O2 for humans coming to Mars. Don’t miss all of what he said on this issue, scaling MOXIE up plus some of the other questions asked of our guest.
** Tuesday, July.28.2021 – Robert Zimmerman discussed “suborbital tourism, orbital tourism, SpaceX, Branson, Bezos, Musk, policy, Artemis, the Moon, Mars, nuclear propulsion, desalinization of seawater, nuclear power, U.S. math education in the schools and much more.”
While the early radio-frequency spectrum interference issues were addressed, the regulatory system has largely failed to address the broader public interest concerns from the deployment of LEO megaconstellations. Businesses are operating in a condition of uncertain future
** iSpace’s Asymmetrical Rocket, Mystery around the Long March 9 Engine, Space Pioneer Round of Funding – Dongfang Hour – YouTube
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Dongfang Hour China Space News Roundup! A kind reminder that we cover a lot more stories every week in our Newsletter (newsletter.dongfanghour.com).
** AST SpaceMobile space-based cellular broadband network. A relatively small constellation of 200 satellites in low earth orbit would provide global cell phone connectivity. The plan is controversial, however, because the satellites will have a large cross-section and so could would become potential sources of space debris. This AST video describes the project.
** The Space Show – Tuesday, July.28.2021 – Robert Zimmerman discussed “suborbital tourism, orbital tourism, SpaceX, Branson, Bezos, Musk, policy, Artemis, the Moon, Mars, nuclear propulsion, desalinization of seawater, nuclear power, U.S. math education in the schools and much more.”
** What’s Up: August 2021 Skywatching Tips from NASA – NASA JPL
What are some skywatching highlights in August 2021? The best-known meteor shower of the year should be a good time this year on the peak night of Aug. 11, with no bright Moon to interfere. Jupiter and Saturn are at their best all month long. And on Aug. 22, the full moon will be a “seasonal blue moon.” Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/whats-up….
In August, a flock of star-studded figures soars overhead. Look for the Vega and Lyra constellations, which point to Epsilon Lyrae and the Ring Nebula. You can also spot three bright summer stars: Vega, Deneb, and Altair, which form the Summer Triangle. Keep watching for space-based views of these and other stars and nebulas.
About this Series “Tonight’s Sky” is a monthly video of constellations you can observe in the night sky. The series is produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute, home of science operations for the Hubble Space Telescope, in partnership with NASA’s Universe of Learning. This is a recurring show, and you can find more episodes—and other astronomy videos—at [Tonight’s Sky].
** Nauka unexpectedly fires thrusters after docking, tilts space station – NASA explains – VideoFromSpace
The Nauka multipurpose module inadvertently began firing its thrusters after docking with the International Space Station. NASA public affairs officer Rob Navias explains. All the astronauts aboard are safe. — Russia’s Nauka module briefly tilts space station with unplanned thruster fire: https://www.space.com/nauka-module-th…
** Watch conversations and footage between Houston and the ISS in the dangerous event that occurred – space googlevesaire
Watch the conversations between Houston and the space station and side shift footage from the direction the Space Station is in during the dangerous event at the International Space Station. At the end of the video, the astronauts also mention that the situation is stable.
** … Expedition 65 International Space Station Update… – NASA Video – A real-time ISS control room report during Thursday, July 29 after the unplanned firings of the thrusters on the Nauka module.
Space Station Stable After Earlier Unplanned MLM Thruster Firing Following the docking of the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), named Nauka, to the International Space Station at 9:29 am EDT Thursday, July 29, Russian cosmonauts aboard the space station conducted leak checks between Nauka and the service module. At 12:45 pm, the flight control team noticed the unplanned firing of MLM thrusters that caused the station to move out of orientation. Ground teams have regained attitude control and the motion of the space station is stable. The crew was never and is not in any danger, and flight controllers in Mission Control Houston are monitoring the status of the space station. Updates on the space station will be provided on NASA.gov and the agency’s social media pages.
** Media Teleconference: International Space Station Update – NASA Video – An audio briefing from NASA on Thursday, July 29th about the anomalous firing of thrusters on the Russian Nauka module, which docked with the station earlier that day.
** Expedition 65 Multipurpose Laboratory Module Nauka Docking – July 29, 2021 – NASA Video
The Russian “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory (MLM) docked to the space station July 29 following a launch from the Baikonur Cosmondrome in Kazakhstan on July 21. “Nauka”, the Russian word for science, replaced the Pirs Docking Compartment which undocked from the station July 24 and was deorbited by an unpiloted Progress supply ship after 20 years of service at the orbiting outpost. The Multipurpose Laboratory Module will serve as a research lab, docking port, and airlock for Russian segment spacewalks.
** Expedition 65 Scripps Institution of Oceanography – July 20, 2021 – NASA Video
Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Megan McArthur of NASA discussed the view of Earth from orbit and other research topics during an in-flight interview July 20 with members of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. McArthur is in the midst of a planned six-month mission aboard the complex, having launched in April on the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour”.
** Orbital Flight Test-2: Crew and Science Briefing – NASA’s Kennedy Space Center – An Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) virtual NASA Social “chat with NASA astronauts and learn more about the science launching aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft“.
** Pirs docking compartment departs space station in stunning time-lapse – VideoFromSpace
** SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft re-docks with space station after changing ports – VideoFromSpace
SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA’s Akihiko Hoshide and ESA’s Thomas Pesquet moved the Crew Dragon Endeavour to a new docking port on the International Space Station on July 21, 2021.
** Celebrating 20 Years of International Space Station Spacewalks – NASA Johnson
On July 20, 2001, two NASA astronauts took the first “steps” out of the International Space Station’s Quest airlock, marking the start of two decades of successful spacewalks in support of station assembly, maintenance, and upgrades enabling all of the life and work onboard to take place. On the same date 32 years before this milestone spacewalk outside the space station, two Apollo astronauts were taking historic steps of their own on the lunar surface for the first time. Astronaut Mike Gernhardt tells us what it was like to follow in such momentous footsteps and how crucial innovations, like the airlock and many others, are to the future of human exploration near and far.
This roundup provides a sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport (find previous roundups here). Part 2 here focuses on SpaceX while Part 1 reports on activities and news of other space transportation companies and organizations around the world.
There were no Starship prototype flights since the last roundup on May 18th but a tremendous amount of activity continued at SpaceX regardless. The Starship section below describes the action in Boca Chica Beach. We start, though, with a look at Falcon 9 and non-Starship related activities:
Launch/Landing: A rapid F9 mission rate continued up till a pause in July due to a scheduled pause for launches to allow KSC/Cape Canaveral to carry out annual maintenance. There have been 20 F9 launches so far this year. Only one of the 20 booster landings failed.
Reuse of F9 boosters has reached as many as 10 flights. The max number could reach significantly more than that according to Elon Musk. So far, SpaceX has detected no need for retirement, or even major refurbishment, of boosters after 10 missions, which was the original target for the number of reuses with minimal refurbishment between flights.
Starlink constellation reached the initial operational size of nearly 1600 active satellites with the Starlink 28 v1.0 mission. Once all the satellites reach their final target orbits, uninterrupted global service between the polar circles will be available.
New customized droneship goes operational for landings on the Atlantic and a droneship arrives on the West Coast. Starlink launches into polar orbit will start this summer from Vandenberg AFB and a droneship is needed to provide for booster landings.
CRS-22 Cargo Dragon launched, docked, departed, and landed safely.
** May 26 : Starlink 28 v1.0 put 60 more satellites into orbit. With this launch, the total number of satellites fills the “first shell” needed to provide global coverage between +/- 53 degrees latitude. The first stage booster previously flew once before for the Sentinel-6A mission. The booster landed successfully on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. According to SpaceX, “One half of Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported four Starlink missions, and the other previously supported a Starlink mission and the Transporter-1 mission.”
*** June 3: Cargo Dragon launched to the ISS and docked two days later. The CRS-22 mission involves a brand new Dragon craft (denoted as C209) and the Falcon 9 used a a brand new Falcon 9 booster (denoted as B1067). Along with supplies and science materials, the Dragon delivered two new solar arrays for the ISS.
*** June 6: Falcon 9 launched SirusXM Radio satellite SXM-8, built by Maxar. The first stage booster landed successfully for the 3rd time. It previously flew for SpaceX’s Crew-1 and Crew-2 missions carrying astronauts to the International Space Station. The first stage landed on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, located in the Atlantic Ocean.
*** Customized droneship for F9 booster landings unveiled: The new droneship, A Shortfall of Gravitas (ASOG), will soon provide a platform for boosters landings in the Atlantic. ASOG differs significantly from the older droneships –Just Read The Instructions (JRTI) and Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) – in looks and capabilities. Most of the support equipment is protected from the rocket’s flames within dark metal casings. The landing pad is somewhat smaller. ASOG also has its own propulsion system so it doesn’t need towing to and from the recovery location. Combined with the robotic Octagrabber robot that secures the booster after it lands, the ship will eventually allow for recovery and transport to port to be controlled remotely with no need for workers to come on board.
July 9: The “Of Course I Still Love You” (OCISLY) droneship arrived on the West Coast after a long trip from Florida aboard the semi-submersible ship “Mighty Servant 1“. OCISLY will provide a landing platform for boosters launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base that cannot return to the launch site for landing.
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The primary focus of the Starship program since the successful SN15 flight on May 5th has been the construction of the orbital launch and landing facility at Boca Chica Beach plus assembly and testing of two Super Heavy Booster prototypes. The goal of all this work is to carry out an orbital test flight of a combined Starship/Super Heavy booster as soon as possible. (See the animation below of the orbital test, which would have the Starship reenter and land on the ocean near Hawaii, short of a complete orbit.)
Booster #3: This non-flight unit was assembled and moved to the suborbital launch pad area where it was prepared for pressure and firing tests. Three Raptor engines were attached and on
Orbital launch tower reached its final height on July 28th with the lifting of the final segment into place. Considerable work remains to install the tower’s infrastructure of power lines, propellant piping, crane, etc.
Orbital launch site tank farm involves several large tanks to provide propellants for the vehicle plus water to flood the area beneath the rocket blast at liftoff. The tanks are constructed in a manner similar to the Starship/Super Heavy tank bodies using nine meter diameter stainless still rings. There are also shells being built to cover the metal tanks to provide for insulation to maintain the cryogenic temperatures of the propellants. A complex network of pipes, pumps, cooling systems, etc. supports the tank farm.
Summer target for the first orbital test launch has been a goal. However, FAA regulatory hurdles, including a possible requirement to carry out a whole new environmental impact study for Starship/Super Heavy launches from Boca Chica, could lead to a long delay and, worst case, a permanent block.
Sea launch facilities using two converted oil drilling platforms could be ready by early 2022. If launches from the Boca Chica site suffer a lengthy delay due to regulatory issues, these platforms could become a viable alternative.
Starship applications will extend far beyond just transporting settlers to Mars. Delivery of large bunches of Starlink satellites to orbit, space debris retrieval, orbiting of large space telescopes, etc have been mentioned recently.
Final decision made earlier this week on booster engine count. Will be 33 at ~230 (half million lbs) sea-level thrust. All engines on booster are same, apart from deleting gimbal & thrust vector actuators for outer 20.
** Lots of Raptor engines will be needed for the 100s of StarShips (6 engines) and Super Heavy boosters (33 engines) rolling off the assembly line in the coming years. SpaceX has already produced a good sized flock of Raptors:
** USAF program studying use of Starship-class vehicles for fast global transportation. The Air Force is requesting $47.9 million in the 2022 budget for a study of “Rocket Cargo“. (The US military is starting to get really interested in Starship | Ars Technica.) Since the 1960s there have been occasional studies by the military into using suborbital rocket transports for super-fast global delivery of supplies and troops to crisis spots. The emergence of the fully reusable, vertical takeoff and landing Starship has clearly generated renewed interest in such technology, which is no longer just theoretical. From the start, SpaceX has a promoted the Starship as capable of suborbital, point-to-point transport in additional to orbital and deep space missions. This was presented in the context of civilian passenger flight services but clearly military transport is an option as well.
While speaking at the National Defense Transportation Association’s Fall Meeting on Oct. 7, U.S. Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), announced USTRANSCOM is looking to space to quickly move critical logistics during time-sensitive contingencies or to deliver humanitarian assistance, helping to project and sustain the Joint Force in support of national objectives.
Speaking at the virtual meeting from the command’s headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, on Oct. 7, Lyons told the audience about USTRANSCOM’s partnership with Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) and Exploration Architecture Corporation (XArc) to explore this emerging capability of rapid transportation through space.
“Think about moving the equivalent of a C-17 payload anywhere on the globe in less than an hour,” Lyons asked the virtual audience. “Think about that speed associated with the movement of transportation of cargo and people. There is a lot of potential here and I’m really excited about the team that’s working with SpaceX on an opportunity, even perhaps, as early as 21, to be conducting a proof of principle.”
Logistics traditionally labors under the tyranny of distance and time, and global access. For example, operations in the Pacific Ocean theater may transit 10,000 miles—one way.
“For the past 75 years or so, we have been constrained to around 40,000 feet altitude and 600 miles per hour in our very fastest method of logistics delivery—airlift,” said USTRANSCOM deputy commander, U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Dee Mewbourne, who leads the command’s effort in this area.
Current space transportation is also more weight- and volume-constrained than airlift, and faces challenges in positioning, launching, and recovery operations. As industry advances to overcome these challenges as well as increase its pace of launches to decrease costs, a space transportation capability to put a crucial cargo quickly on target at considerable distances makes it an attractive alternative.
The XArc CRADA [Cooperative Research and Development Agreements] tasks are to determine global spaceport basing criteria for Point-to-Point space transportation and delivery, and assess the ground support and logistics requirements needed for integrating a spacelift capability. The research study evaluates ground support infrastructure requirements with regard to support facilities, cargo standardizations and logistics for materiel handling, mission dedicated equipment, supplies, materiel and personnel, and intermodal cargo transfer. International regulatory issues of air and space law are also addressed, as well as infrastructure security considerations.
The goal is to establish a seamless integration of air and space transport modalities to work through a variety of possible contingencies. The study considers a variety of emerging space transportation technologies in development by commercial service providers, and also considers Orbital Depots to determine viability of “space drop” supply logistics.
It seems clear that defense leaders are eager to be an early adopter of these technologies. Officials said the Department of Defense would even consider buying initial launches at a reduced price to both support the companies’ test programs as well as to test logistics materials and procedures.
And while, initially, cargo-carrying rockets probably would land at existing spaceports or runways, that need not always be the case. One day, such urgent rocket deliveries might land anywhere on the planet, rugged terrain or not, Spanjers said. He noted that rockets, after all, have landed on the Moon.
“If they can land in those places, we’re interested in knowing to what extent we can extend that to a larger range of terrains on Earth, so that we can do immediate cargo transports to basically anywhere on the planet quickly,” he said.
With suborbital Starship tests seemingly complete with SN15’s successful landing, all eyes are on the first orbital test flight of a full Starship-Super Heavy stack. This test, scheduled to take place only in a few month’s time, will feature the world’s tallest and most powerful rocket ever built taking flight for the first time. This animation shows the proposed flight plan of that first orbital test flight. NOTE: Some aspects of this animation are inaccurate or out of date. During the production many new pieces of information were revealed that weren’t known at the time certain scenes were animated.
*** Sampling of daily video reports from Boca Chica:
SpaceX performs a full duration static fire of Super Heavy Booster 3. This is the first prototype booster to be fueled and ground tested. Booster 3 has three Raptor engines installed though Elon Musk stated they may try to fire it with nine engines in the future. Video from Mary (@BocaChicaGal) and the NSF Robotic Camera Team. Edited by Brady Kenniston (@TheFavoritist)
As crews inspect Booster 3 after its successful static fire, more Raptor engines for a Super Heavy booster are delivered. Dubbed “R2B2” by McGregor crews, Raptor Boost 2 (RB2) may be mounted on the outer engine ring of a Booster prototype in the coming months. Video & Photos from Mary (@BocaChicaGal) and the NSF Robotic Camera Team. Edited by Nathan Shields
Raptor engine RC59 was removed from Super Heavy Booster 3, work started on the 9th section of the Launch Tower, and a Super Heavy Aft dome was spotted being worked on inside one of the production tents. Video and Pictures from Steven Marr (@spacecoast_stve). Edited by Nate Shields.
Three Raptor engines were delivered, Super Heavy Booster 4’s Methane Transfer Tube (also known as the downcomer) was installed, and work on the orbital launch table continued. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal) and the NSF robots. Edited by Nate Sheilds.
*** Other Starship and space transport videos:
*** July.26: Starship Tests Payload Bay Design, Booster 3 Static Fire, New Test Rig Built | This Week in Starbase – NASASpaceflight – YouTube
As SpaceX pushes toward the Orbital Test Flight, critical pieces needed to support the flight start to fall into place. Ian Atkinson walks you through the progress being made at Starbase. Hosted by Ian Atkinson (@IanPineapple).
Today we’ll talk Starship 2.0. SpaceX’s latest design changes that will be present on the orbital flight. We’ll also talk about the lead theory for the mystery structure, and we’ll talk about the Super High Bay. SpaceX’s even larger Starship high bay to begin construction soon! Let’s find out!
*** July.24: SpaceX’s Mechazilla Rises, Starliner Prepares, Nauka Launch, Wally Funk’s flight to Space – Marcus House
Not only did we see Raptor action this week with SpaceX’s record-sized rocket booster, but we witnessed the launch of Russia’s Nauka Laboratory for the International Space Station. Better late than never. We have updates on Hubble’s Trouble and Rocket Lab’s anomaly review. The Dragon has been tamed yet again, and of course, we had the first crewed flight of New Shepard with Wally Funk’s long-awaited ride to space. Quite the action-packed week right there!
*** July.27: SpaceX’s Mechazilla Rises, Starliner Prepares, Nauka Launch, Wally Funk’s flight to Space – Marcus House
Today, we’ll have a closer look at how NASA and SpaceX might fly to the Moon. We already teased the scenarios in the last video talking about SpaceX’s Human Landing System and what mission options could be possible, but today, we want to add some numbers. True, there are lots of official numbers missing but we have found some clues on how it might go. …
*** July.12: Why SpaceX Will Move To New Thrusters To Simplify Starship – Scott Manley
Starship and SuperHeavy development continue, there hasn’t been any more test flights of Starship as they have decided to move on to testing the booster and putting Starship into orbit.