A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport (find previous roundups here):
** A Soyuz launched a new ISS crew early this morning US time and the spacecraft reached the ISS just three hours later. A few hours later the crew, including NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov (Soyuz commander) and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov (flight engineer), entered the station. They expand the ISS contingent to a total of six.
- NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, Crewmates Arrive Safely at Space Station | NASA
- Hatches Open, Station Crew Expands to Six – Space Station/NASA
- Expedition 64 Crew Blasts off on Express Ride to Station – Space Station/NASA
- Soyuz launch marks end of an era for NASA – SpaceNews
** Blue Origin flew a New Shepard vehicle on Tuesday Oct. 13th above 100 km for the 13th time, the 7th time for this particular vehicle. The flight had been postponed several times from the original target date of September 24th by a series of weather and technical issues. New Shepard Successfully Completes Mission with NASA Precision Lunar Landing Technology Onboard – Blue Origin
There were 12 payloads onboard including the Deorbit, Descent, and Landing Sensor Demonstration under the NASA Tipping Point partnership. The lunar landing sensor demo was the first payload to be mounted on the exterior of a New Shepard booster and tested technology designed to achieve high accuracy landing. This will enable long-term lunar exploration, as well as future Mars missions.
“Today’s flight was inspiring. Using New Shepard to simulate landing on the Moon is an exciting precursor to what the Artemis program will bring to America,” said Bob Smith, CEO, Blue Origin. “Thanks to NASA for partnering with us, and congrats to the Blue Origin team on taking another step toward returning to the Moon to stay.”
As indicated by the press release, the company focused on the dozen scientific and technology payloads tested during the flight, particularly the NASA lunar landing systems placed on the outside of the booster. NASA and the other payload owners paid for their rides in a commercial fee-for-service framework. This was not a NASA funded mission. For more info about the payloads, see New Shepard Mission NS-13 Launch Updates – Blue Origin.
This was the first flight of 2020. The 12th New Shepard launch took place last December. There was little info during the webcast regarding an increase in the flight rate or when flights with people on board will happen.
Liftoff is at around 37:16 into this replay of the mission webcast:
This video highlights the NASA funded technology tested during the flight:
On Tuesday, October 13, 2020, Blue Origin launched mission NS-13 to space and back. On this flight, New Shepard flew 12 commercial payloads, including the Deorbit, Descent, and Landing Sensor Demonstration with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate under a Tipping Point partnership. This was the first payload to fly mounted on the exterior of a New Shepard booster, opening the door to a wide range of future high-altitude sensing, sampling, and exposure payloads.
- Blue Origin completes successful suborbital space shot – Spaceflight Now
- New Shepard returns to flight with successful suborbital mission – SpaceNews
** Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo vessel berthed to the ISS following launch on an Antares rocket from Wallops Island on October 2nd: Northrop Grumman Successfully Launches 14th Cargo Delivery Mission to the International Space Station | Northrop Grumman
The Cygnus arrived at the station October 5th and successfully berthed soon after:
- Cygnus Resupply Ship Attached to Station Unity Module – Space Station/NASA
- Cygnus supply ship reaches space station with titanium toilet – Spaceflight Now
- Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus Spacecraft Berths with International Space Station – Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) Cygnus spacecraft was successfully captured by Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA using the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 at 5:32 a.m. EDT [Oct.5th] after its launch on the company’s Antares rocket on Oct. 2 from Wallops Island.
The S.S. Kalpana Chawla executed a series of thruster burns during its three day journey to the station. Once Cygnus was in close range, crew members grappled the spacecraft with the station’s robotic arm. Cygnus was then guided to its berthing port on the Earth facing side of the station’s Unity module and officially installed to the space station at 8:01 a.m. EDT.
Cygnus will remain berthed to the International Space Station for approximately three months while more than 8,000 pounds of cargo is unloaded and astronauts reload the vehicle with disposal cargo. Cygnus will then undock and complete its secondary mission of hosting both the Northrop Grumman-built SharkSat payload and the Saffire-V experiment. The SharkSat prototype payload is mounted to Cygnus and will collect performance data of new technologies in low Earth orbit. To learn more about these payloads, visit Northrop Grumman’s website.
The company is trying to raise a couple hundred million dollars to sustain itself until it reaches operational status: Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit Seeks $1 Billion Valuation in Fundraising – WSJ.
** ExoTerra Resource to develop a solar electric powered upper stage for Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket. The stage will enable payloads to reach GEO and lunar orbits and beyond. ExoTerra to develop upper stage for Virgin Orbit LauncherOne – SpaceNews
With ExoTerra’s Solar Electric Propulsion Upper Stage, LauncherOne customers could reach destinations including geostationary orbit, trans-lunar injection orbit, Earth-Moon Lagrange points and low lunar orbit, according to the ExoTerra news release.
“This win allows ExoTerra to begin development of an upper stage that will deliver up to 150 kilograms of payload to the moon,” according to the news release. The upper stage also could transport 180-kilogram payloads to geostationary orbit, the release added.
** Rocket Lab is also aiming for destinations beyond low earth orbit: #SpaceWatchGL Interviews – Peter Beck of Rocket Lab: “I don’t have 50 or 60 years to wait” – SpaceWatch.Global
Rocket Lab belongs to the top private launcher companies globally. With 14 launches and 55 deployed satellites, the company is one of the most vibrant actors in the space launcher market. SpaceWatch.Global Editor-in-Chief Markus Payer got the chance to talk to Peter Beck, Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, to discuss Rocket Lab’s ambitions to go to Venus, its strategy, vertical integration and fundamental questions of humanity.
New Zealand is proud of the country’s rocket company: ‘Most successful startup since SpaceX’ – Americans hail Rocket Lab – NZ Herald.
The Firefly Alpha Flight 1 Stage 1 passed its Final Acceptance Test yesterday! After a final inspection, it will be transported to Vandenberg Air Force Base in preparation for launch. Great work by the over 300+ Firefly team to achieve this important milestone! pic.twitter.com/qTszFOnSnG
— Firefly Aerospace (@Firefly_Space) October 10, 2020
— Firefly Aerospace (@Firefly_Space) October 7, 2020
** Relativity Space advances 3D printing of large structures: Inside Relativity Space HQ: 3D printer rocket ‘factory of the future’ – CNBC
Relativity is currently building the first iteration of its Terran 1 rocket. But unlike other rockets, Relativity is using multiple 3D-printers, all developed in-house, to build Terran 1. The rocket is designed to have about 95% of its parts be 3D-printed, which allows Relativity’s rocket to be less complex, and faster to build or modify, than traditional rockets. Additionally, Relativity says its simpler process will eventually be capable of turning raw material into a rocket on the launchpad in under 60 days.
While Relativity had made progress testing its 3D-printing technology, the company’s 120,000 square foot headquarters will serve as the foundation for its manufacturing and launch business. Relativity is now on its third generation of 3D-printers, capable of manufacturing a single piece of metal up to 32 feet tall – as high as the new ceiling allows.
The first launch is targeted for late 2021. They are aiming for a price of $12M per flight.
** China launches another Gaofen observation satellite on a Long March-3B rocket. Liftoff was from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China:
- Long March 3B lofts Gaofen-13 – NASASpaceFlight.com
- China launches Gaofen-13 observation satellite towards geostationary orbit – SpaceNews
** A review of commercial launch in China: The English language podcast Dongfang Hour focuses on Chinese aerospace and technology. Here is a two-part program about the development and status of commercial launch industry in China:
**** China’s Long March to Commercial Launch
This week, we discussed the history of China’s commercial launch industry, and commercial space industry more generally. This included:
00:00 – Introduction 04:47 – The 1980s and the Origins of Chinese Commercial Launch
13:19 – From Encouraging Growth experience to a shift after multiple failures by Chinese launch vehicles: the 1990s
21:17 – Post-2000 China in the ITAR Export Control Environment
36:14 – Residual Deals between China and Western Countries: ITAR-Free Products and Services
39:38 – Digging Into China’s Family of Long March Rockets
43:06 – The future of Chinese commercial launch, including discussion on the plethora of commercial companies entering the market
**** What’s the Situation with Chinese Private Launch Startups ?
Last time we left off at the dawn of China’s private launch era. Having discussed the major state-owned companies and their respective rockets, we will now shift our attention to the plethora of privately-owned launch companies entering the Chinese market today. On today’s episode, we will discuss: Who are China’s private launcher companies, and what type of rockets are they building? What is the relationship between state-owned and privately-owned launcher companies in China? Who do the private launcher companies hope to sell their services to? What are some of the similarities and differences between Chinese private launcher companies and their western counterparts? The episode timestamps can be found below:
00:53 – Introduction
03:01 – Historical perspective
04:31 – Why has China allowed private companies to enter the launch industry?
09:51 – Two generations of private launch companies
17:03 – The founding teams
22:34 – Strong ties with provincial governments
25:00 – Propulsion technology and reusability
34:56 – Comparing Private and state-owned launch vehicles
37:55 – Is there enough market demand to sustain so many launch companies?
45:29 – Implication of Chinese tech companies in space
** Update on Sierra Nevada‘s Dream Chaser spaceplane, orbital habitat, and other projects dealing with space exploration and development: Sierra Nevada Corporation’s space plan: Dream Chaser, NASA’s Artemis and more – CNBC
While SNC to date has been involved in hundreds of exploration missions and more, the crown jewel of its space portfolio is Dream Chaser: A reusable spacecraft that, in appearance resembling a miniaturized NASA Space Shuttle, is built to launch atop a traditional rocket and land on a runway like an airplane.
“We view the Dream Chaser as something that eventually in low Earth orbit will be providing transportation, logistics and crew for everybody,” Lindsey said.
The first cargo delivery to the ISS by a Dream Chaser is currently targeted for 2021.
** C6 Launch Systems of Canada to test rockets at Spaceport America in New Mexico: Spaceport America and C6 Launch Systems Sign Agreement – Spaceport America
Spaceport America signed an agreement with Canadian Corporation C6 Launch Systems to provide services, resources, and access to the vertical launch sites facilities for testing operations and activities.
C6 Launch Systems (www.c6launch.ca) plans to begin work at Spaceport America in January 2021. Over a six-week period, the Canadian rocket company will install a new vertical test stand and conduct system integration tests including several engine firings at Spaceport America. These tests will validate the avionics, engine control, ground control and communications subsystems.
“C6 Launch is a young, innovative company, part of the new frontier of commercial space developments, and a perfect fit for our site,” Scott McLaughlin, Spaceport America’s Interim Executive Director said, “We are glad to play an important role in their growth, and hope to be a partner for many years to come.”
C6 builds rockets designed to launch small satellites. Its launch vehicle is purpose-built for a high-cadence, low-cost orbital launch program. Elementary tank architecture, pressurization, and propellant management systems simplify manufacturing and launch operations. Its time-tested engine provides a path to reliable flight performance.
** The Russian “Amur” rocket design is similar to the SpaceX Falcon 9 with a reusable first stage: Trouble-free as a Kalashnikov assault rifle: the Amur methane rocket – Roscosmos (Google Translate). The goal is to launch by 2026 and to charge $22M per flight when operational.
Unlike the kerosene/LOX Merlin engines, the Emur will use five methane/LOX engines:
To date, methane-oxygen engines are being developed for the first stages of promising launch vehicles; plans to use liquefied natural gas as a rocket fuel are a global trend. SpaceX is going to use a liquefied gas version of the Raptor engine on a number of its rockets. It is the methane engines, according to the American company, that should send the first earthlings to Mars. Another BE-4 methane engine is being developed by another US private company, Blue Origin, for use in the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket.
Methane is, first of all, a cheap fuel, its processing and use is widely mastered by other industries, which makes it possible to use ready-made infrastructure solutions. For example, there is no need to develop any special storage facilities for methane at the Amur onshore complex – the standard designs of PJSC Gazprom will be taken. Moreover, just 50 kilometers from Vostochny, a gas processing complex of Gazprom (Amur GPP) is being built under a contract with China, from which it is enough to stretch a branch of the gas pipeline to the start of the Amur. Fueling the rocket will become even cheaper.
Besides a good “economy”, liquefied gas has a number of technical advantages. Methane is the most convenient fuel for reusable rockets. When burned, unlike kerosene, liquefied gas produces very little soot. With methane, engine elements do not have to be cleaned of unburned fuel residues. The high cooling capacity of methane will help remove excess engine heat during operation. Plus methane will provide more specific impulse.
Methane is often criticized for its low density. It is believed that because of this, the tank will have to be made larger, which will lead to an increase in the mass of the entire rocket and a loss in payload. “These statements are not true – when cooled to ultra-low temperatures, the liquefied gas is compacted enough to use tanks of standard volumes,” Bloshenko explained.
The long term goal is to reuse the first stage up to 100 times:
At the first stage of flight tests, it is planned to provide at least ten flights of the reusable first stage of the Amur. However, in the future, it is planned to launch one stage up to 100 times. In this case, the central engine of the first stage, which will be responsible for the rocket-dynamic landing, must be turned on a total of 300 times. “The central engine will be responsible for landing the stage back to Earth. In each flight, it will operate three times: first, it will ignite when the rocket is launched, the second time the engine will fire when the reentry stage is decelerated in dense layers of the atmosphere, and the third time it will start at the very ground with a soft landing on its feet. If we want to launch a reusable stage 100 times in the future, then the central engine must be designed, respectively, for 300 starts, ”Pshenichnikov noted.
Here is a translation of the diagram:
— Muhammed Jaseem (@Jasseeeem) October 5, 2020
** Romanian project tests vertical-takeoff-and-landing techniques with turbo-jet powered platform. The work is supported by ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP):
- Demonstrator masters flight sequences for reusable rocket stages – ESA
A crucial part of rocket reusability is a smooth return and landing. ESA has helped Romania’s National Institute for Aerospace Research, INCAS, to demonstrate vertical takeoff, short hovering and landing manoeuvres using a small-scale flight demonstrator
This 60 kg platform has landing legs and is powered by a turbo jet 0.9 kN-class engine. It is capable of carrying payloads totalling 5 kg.
The demonstrator technology vehicle (DTV) was tested this summer at INCAS in Bucharest. Tethers were used as a safety measure and to protect it from damage in case of an equipment failure during flight. Manoeuvres lasted ten seconds to a couple of minutes.
- Russian space corporation unveils planned “Amur” rocket—and it looks familiar | Ars Technica
- Russia to spend $880 mln on Amur reusable space rocket – TASS
** NASA funds in-space propellant depot technology research projects:
- 2020 NASA Tipping Point Selections | NASA
- NASA makes a significant investment in on-orbit spacecraft refueling | Ars Technica
These awards are notable because, for much of the last decade, the agency has been hesitant to invest in technologies that will enable the handling of cold propellant in space. The official reason given for this reluctance has been that the technology of creating propellant “depots,” and transferring liquid hydrogen and oxygen to and from these depots, was deemed not ready for prime time. But there were political reasons as well.
The reality is that creating in-space fueling technologies enables a new paradigm for spaceflight. It allows for the refueling of a rocket’s second stage for multiple uses, enables reusable “tugs” that can move back and forth between the Earth and Moon, and allows smaller rockets to play a larger role in exploration programs. All of this undermines the need for a very large, expensive rocket like the Space Launch System that Congress directed NASA to build.
Of the four new awards, the two most notable are the ones going to United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX. ULA has been interested in cryo-storage technology for years, having done some research on its own about a decade ago, and was preparing for in-space tests on propellent depots. Then, in 2011, one of ULA’s co-owners, Boeing, won a contract to build the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket. Internal work on this depot technology largely stopped.
- October 2020 Edition of the ISEC (Int. Space Elevator Consortium) Newsletter
- Delta IV Heavy rocket delayed again, raising concerns of aging infrastructure | Ars Technica
- Delta IV Heavy scrubs again, ULA chief vows to change readiness operations | Ars Technica
- Wallops Island Virginia may soon become the second busiest launch site in the country – The Washington Post
- Final hot firing proves P120C booster for Ariane 6 – ESA
- ISRO To Test Ground Landing Of Indian Space Shuttle – India Times
- Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson withdraws from Starliner test flight – SpaceNews
- Tripoli Rocketry Association to join the Spaceport America Cup – Spaceport America
Check out the
The Lurio Report
for news and analysis of key developments in NewSpace
The latest issue:
Strides and Views, Rocket Lab, Bernard Kutter, RIP
Vol. 15, No. 6, September 18, 2020
Space Frontier Foundation Award for NewSpace Journalism
*** Starlink 13 mission finally launches after a series of scrubs. The Falcon 9 lifted off from Pad 39A at KSC on Tuesday, Oct. 6th: SpaceX breaks cycle of scrubs with successful Falcon 9 launch – Spaceflight Now
A view of the flight from the ground: SpaceX Launch and Track thru Fairings – Starlink13 10-06-2020 – USLaunchReport
Awesome, beautiful morning launch. Love morning launches. Sounds like the rest of the year are night. Wish Ed could have been here with his tracker. Hope they got that Fairing for the third time. Thanks for Watching! Thanks for Subscribing. We are a US disabled veteran run, non-profit video production company whose mission is to bring other disabled US Veterans to witness a launch, experience US Space History and become part of our report. – www.USLaunchReport.com
And a view of the rocket crossing the Sun:
— Michael Seeley (@Mike_Seeley) October 6, 2020
Closer crops of two of my favorite frames from the adventure to capture the Falcon 9 this morning in front of the Sun!☀️
— Trevor Mahlmann (@TrevorMahlmann) October 6, 2020
(Note that the number of Starlink missions can seem inconsistent because some people count the first launch of prototype satellites and others do not include it, instead starting with the first launch of operational satellites.)
** The scrub of the Falcon 9 launch of a USAF GPS satellite was caused by an engine problem and this in turn has led to a postponement of the first operational crew mission to the ISS:
- NASA delays commercial crew mission to study Falcon 9 engine issue – SpaceNews
- NASA, SpaceX Crew-1 Launch Update – Commercial Crew Program/NASA
Launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station is now targeted for no sooner than early-to-mid November, providing additional time for SpaceX to complete hardware testing and data reviews as the company evaluates off-nominal behavior of Falcon 9 first stage engine gas generators observed during a recent non-NASA mission launch attempt. Through the agency’s Commercial Crew and Launch Services Programs partnership with SpaceX, NASA has full insight into the company’s launch and testing data.
** A previously unannounced Falcon 9 launch of a spysat is now set for a late October liftoff: NRO reveals plans for previously-undisclosed SpaceX launch this month – Spaceflight Now
The National Reconnaissance Office has confirmed it will launch a payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral later this month, a mission on SpaceX’s schedule that was not publicly disclosed until recently.
A regulatory filing with the Federal Communications Commission recently revealed plans for a SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral scheduled for Oct. 25. But details of the mission in the filing did not match any known launch on SpaceX’s schedule, raising speculation that the launch might carry a national security payload for the U.S. government.
SpaceX has launched national security missions before that went unannounced until the final stages of launch preparations. The Zuma mission, a mysterious payload launched for the U.S. government in January 2018, was not publicly listed in any launch schedules or contract announcements until the final weeks before its planned liftoff.
** Another estimate of Falcon 9 launch costs for SpaceX: How Much Cheaper Are SpaceX Reusable Rockets? Now We Know: SpaceX’s prices are getting so low that other companies might not be able to compete with it. – fool.com
If SpaceX can launch commercial payloads for a mere $36 million, I honestly don’t see how ULA can compete with that — unless its new Vulcan Centaur rockets prove dramatically cheaper than the Atlas V and Delta IV [Editor’s note: Name updated.] rockets it has been flying up to now. For that matter, even foreign rocket launchers such as Russia’s Roscosmos and India’s PSLV may struggle to compete.
$36 million is more expensive than the reported $15 million cost of an expendable Indian PSLV rocket, which is probably the cheapest launch vehicle this side of China. PSLV, however, only has a payload capacity of about 1.8 metric tons to Low Earth Orbit — less than a tenth of the Falcon 9’s 22.8 ton payload. Pound for pound, therefore, it would appear there is no one on Earth capable of launching payloads to orbit cheaper than SpaceX.
Thanks to its reusable rockets, the global commercial satellite launch market may now be SpaceX’s for the taking.
** A fully reusable Starship may make high speed global point-to-point missions feasible, which in turn will enable a range of new applications such as moving military supplies to support US forces in distant operations: U.S. Transportation Command to study use of SpaceX rockets to move cargo around the world – SpaceNews
“Think about moving the equivalent of a C-17 payload anywhere on the globe in less than an hour,” Lyons said. The C-17 is a very large military cargo plane capable of transporting a 70-ton main battle tank.
Transportation Command has signed a cooperative research and development agreement, known as CRADA, with SpaceX and Exploration Architecture Corporation (XArc) to study concepts for rapid transportation through space.
** SpaceX testing side boosters for a Falcon Heavy launch next year of a US Space Force mission:
In the background is Grasshopper, which SpaceX used to test the technologies needed for propulsive landing of an orbital rocket
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 5, 2020
Since Grasshopper’s first flight in September 2012, SpaceX has landed 60 Falcon first stage rocket boosters and re-flown them 42 times
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 5, 2020
** The next SpaceX cargo resupply (CRS-2) mission to the ISS will use a modified version of the Dragon 2 that was designed for crew missions:
This will be the first flight of the upgraded cargo version of Dragon, which is able to carry 50% more science payloads than the previous version of Dragon pic.twitter.com/oJ1rSaDDZq
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 12, 2020
The next CRS mission is currently set for late November.
SpaceX continues a rapid pace of development at Boca Chica:
- SN8 prototype survives tank pressure tests.
- Three Raptor engines installed. (See image below.)
- Fins have been attached to a nosecone, presumably the one intended for SN8.
- SN9 is fully stacked. Other prototypes are in various states of assembly. Components for prototypes up through SN14 have been spotted.
- SN-01 Super Heavy segments are ready for stacking once the High Bay is completed
- High Bay roof appears nearly done. Completion of the sides should happen soon. Internal work, including an overhead crane. could take a few more weeks.
- Video reports (see below) show lots of ground preparation work underway at the launch and landing sites.
The SN8 program is expected to go roughly as follows:
- A static firing test of the Raptor engines could start as soon as tonight according to road closure statements.
- If the static firing test goes well, a nosecone with fins will be stacked atop the SN8 tanks section. Presumably, this will be done at the test site.
- There could be another static firing in the fully stacked configuration.
- A test flight to 15 km (50k ft) is the primary goal of SN8 and could happen in just a few weeks if the above preparations go well.
SpaceX has windows to static fire test its SN8 Starship prototype, with three Raptor engines, tonight, as well as Thursday and Friday nights. https://t.co/QW4k6fHNIn
— Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace) October 14, 2020
For more details on Starship/Super Heavy developments:
- SN8 receiving Raptors as prelude to advanced Starship testing – NASASpaceFlight.com
- Super Heavy waiting in the wings amid Starship testing – NASASpaceFlight.com
**** Elon Musk to give annual update on Starship program this month:
Oh yeah, Starship update coming in about 3 weeks. The design has coalesced. What is presented will actually be what flies to orbit as V1.0 with almost no changes.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 2, 2020
**** Three Raptor engines now installed on SN8 Starship prototype:
9 meter or roughly 30 ft diameter
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 14, 2020
A comment from Elon about the steel used for the Starship/Super Heavy booster:
The ship rings are thicker than they need to be (for now), so same thickness works for booster & ship for hoop stress. Booster lower tank will have longitudinal stiffeners to prevent buckling.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 2, 2020
**** A view inside a Starship tank:
Standing at the frontline of human ken, SpaceX’s pioneering ‘Starship’ enshrines a spirit of human exploration and ingenuity, traceable from prehistoric polynesian Mariners, to Magellan and Columbus. What boundaries will these caravels of tomorrow surpass.#SpaceX #Starship pic.twitter.com/E6gXbPaCIu
— Ｈａｒｒｙ🚀 (@haru_orlando) October 5, 2020
***** How SpaceX’s New Raptor Vacuum Engine Is Different From Previous Raptors (and Other Stuff) – Scott Manley
It’s been a while since I talked about SpaceX’s work on Starship, but in the last month I’ve been most excited by the reveal of the prototype for the Vacuum optimized version of the Raptor engine which is intended for the Starship upper stage.
**** Oct.3: SpaceX Boca Chica – SN8 Flaps Unfolded – Super Heavy LOX Stack 1 – NASASpaceflight – YouTube
SN8’s Flaps were unfolded at the launch site, SN9’s thrust section was lifted into the Mid Bay for stacking, SN11’s CH4 Header tank was spotted as well as a two ring stack for Super Heavy labeled “LOX Stack 1”. Yet another new nosecone is being built, SN6 is moved to the other side of the build site, and Raptor Engine SN29 (the one used on SN6’s 150m hop) was loaded up and left the build site. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)
**** Oct.6: SpaceX Boca Chica – SN8 Pressure Testing, RCS Thruster Test – Bluezilla Disassembled – NASASpaceflight – YouTube
SN8 pressure testing continued last night/this morning, including some RCS thruster tests. Bluezilla disassembly begins, Tankzilla is prepped for a move- to where we don’t know yet, and an interesting new piece of machinery is delivered. Earth work at the Launch Site continued, and Super Heavy’s LOX Stack 1 was moved around the build site. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)
**** Oct.7: SpaceX Build & Launch Site Flyover October 7th – RGV Aerial Photography
**** Oct.11: SpaceX Boca Chica – Raptor Engines Installed on Starship SN8 – NASASpaceflight – YouTube
Two Raptor Engines, SN39 and SN32 arrived at the Launch Site today for installation on Starship SN8 – though SN39 was later removed. A set of Forward Flaps were moved inside the Nosecone Production Tent and Mary provides us with excellent views of the current state of progress on Suborbital Pad B, the Tank Farm and of course, Starship SN8. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)
**** Oct.14: SpaceX Boca Chica – Forward Flaps Installed on Nosecone – NASASpaceflight – YouTube
SN8’s Nosecone had its Forward Flaps installed and was moved into the windbreak for stacking on a barrel section. The workaround the Orbital Launch Pad continued with concrete being poured, some tanks were moved from the launch site to the Old Gas Well Lot, and work on SN9 continued. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Nic Gautschi (@NGautschi).
**** Other Starship and space transport reports:
**** Oct.10: This is how SpaceX is changing the space industry with Starship and Crew Dragon – Marcus House
Today, something just a little different. We are talking about SpaceX Starship and Crew Dragon and how this new groundbreaking technology is inspiring the space industry. It is a whirlwind of constant activity for SpaceX every week and we thought it would be useful to take a step back and reflect on the huge achievements that have taken place over the last year. Strap in, because this is going to move fast.
**** Oct.3: SpaceX Starship countdown to flight – Elon’s Starship update in 3 weeks – Marcus House
The SpaceX Starship countdown to flight is upon us and we also have Elon’s Starship update in 3 weeks. This week we are counting down to the testing schedule for Starship Serial Number 8. The first Starship prototype that plans to take that first significant test flight to 15 kilometers in altitude. Lots of interesting news here on the first super-heavy booster prototype along with overall construction at the launch and construction sites at Boca Chica. Exciting announcement on Dragons as well. Yep, The next Cargo Dragon is being prepared, the astronauts for the Crew 1 mission are getting ready training for that mission to potentially fly this very month, and some beautiful new footage from SpaceX on the Demo 2 mission. Also talking about the upcoming GPS III mission and a bunch of aborted rocket launches. What a week!
**** Oct.2: SpaceX Starship – Testing About To Begin – Super Heavy The Giant – What about it!?
Welcome to Episode 124 of What about it!? Today amongst other things I’ll explain to you, what makes SpaceX’s Super Heavy booster special and how SpaceX will build it.