Elon Musk: “The second Starship orbital launch in 2 months with B9/S25”

SpaceX filed a permit request and revealed the potential launch date of the second Starship. Booster six ruptured after an explosion at Massey’sand another Falcon Nine crewed mission is ahead of us, this time with a twist.

All of this and more in this tightly-packed episode. Stay tuned and let’s dive right in. Starship UpdatesStarship updates, Starbase never sleeps. Just one month ago, SpaceX’s Starship blasted off from this very spot undoing months of hard work, but boy did they put on a show as no other company could.

SpaceX’s engineers are working around the clock to get the launch site operational again as fast as possible and it shows everywhere. In the last episode, we pondered the placement of piles within and around the hexagonal base of the orbital launch mount.

Well, it looks like SpaceX learned its lessons now it appears that the piles will extend even beyond the water-cooled steel plate assembly. Thanks to the wonderful photos provided by RGV Aerial Photography, we can see at least nine piles have already been placed. More are likely to follow as right next to the launch mound, five additional rebar cages can be seen.

Steel Plate InstallationWith all this tremendous effort there’s a hope that soil compression won’t be an issue doing the next orbital launch attempt. That’s assuming that the aforementioned steel plate will do its job.

Currently, some pieces of the installation have reemerged at the Sanchez site and it appears that the plate is being connected to the water piping net. Presumably, once the pre-fabricated parts are finished they will be transported to the launch site and assembled into one big hexagon after being laid into the ground, likely sticking out just a tiny bit.

This process possesses some challenges as the orbital launch mount Starbase wasn’t originally designedOrbital Launch Mount Challenges with a deluge in mind. At LC-39A, this process was incredibly straightforward.

There is no launch deck yet to worry about the entire assembly was lifted in one piece and placed into a pre-dug hole. Here, however, it’s an entirely different story.SpaceX engineers had to carefully design the plate around the OLM’s existing design meaning that every single underground pipe had to be taken into consideration.

A notable example of this is the cryogenic pipes used to transfer fuel and oxidizer from the orbital tank farm straight to the booster quick disconnect. Following the Starship’s launchall piping leading to the doghouse was removed.

The installation of water steel plates may force workers to place new pipes above the ground and provide adequate shielding to protect them during a launch. The orbital launch mount is starting to look better and better with every hour.

Everything at Starbase is ramping up, including the development of the water system. Water System ExpansionLocated just behind the orbital launch integration tower or OLIT, the water supply system has begun to expand as anticipated.

Numerous black high-pressure tanks have been relocated near the water system. These vessels are now being grouped in sets of four. One such set was already mounted right next to the white high-pressure tanks.

I’ve counted a total of 32 tanks which amounts to eight sets. That’s almost as many as were placed there back when the construction was started. It remains uncertain whether the four racks of white vessels visible in past aerial photos will also be used.

SpaceX 3D CreationThe purpose of these tanks is crucial for the deluge systems sufficient pressure is required to ensure that the water-cooled steel plate can do its job. Chris from Schiffersoft and Owe from SpaceX 3Dcreation Eccentric has been working on some detailed rendering of what we expect to see being built by SpaceX.

Take a look. Owe and Chris are both personal friends of mine and have been working with us for a long time. Thank you for giving us these renderers. Make sure to follow them on Twitter. Our links are in the description.

What you’re looking at here is what happens if there are two well-informed educated guesses present. Both concepts show the same idea but with a different layout. In principle, you can see the same working mechanics in both ideas.

The big difference is that in Owe’s render, both rows of pipes leading out from the main pipe are connected to the same element. One row sprays water out and the other does the internal plate cooling. In Chris’s idea, the two rows are connected to two different plate elements.

One supplies the outer plate and the other one does the same for the inner plate segment. Orbital Tank Farm RepairIt’s hard to say which is right as we don’t have any close-up pictures yet. What do you think? Which idea sounds more plausible? As always, let me know in the comments below.

You can spot some repair work going on at the orbital tank Farm or OTF. It appears that the concrete slab ejected after Starship’s liftoff contributed a little too much damage to the white high-pressure tanks located on top of the fluid bunker.

Since their rupture could have disastrous consequences for the entire launch site, it’s both easier and safer to swap them out for brand-new tanks, which is yet to happen.

Ground Support Equipment TanksIn the previous episode, I mentioned that if the excavator were to relocate to the opposite side of the methane tanks, it would be pretty solid evidence that the expansion of the ground support equipment tanks is underway.

Well, take a look at this. Two long strips of concrete were excavated using a hammer attachment. Likely, the blue drilling rig will now be used to install piles, forming a foundation for the new tanks. These could be intended for storing either liquid oxygen or liquid nitrogen, assuming that SpaceX wants to use the small horizontal tank.

Approximately 10 of them would fit in this area. That is, unless Elon Musk’s company decides to use a stacking system, doubling or even tripling the storage capacity for the same used area.

Estimated Launch Window So many things are yet to be done, but SpaceX already hints that the next orbital launch attempt isn’t that far away. For the first time since the initial Starship’s liftoff, drum roll, an estimated launch window has been posted.

In a recent FCC filing, SpaceX requested the usage of certain frequency bands. While such requests are fairly common in the industry, this time the provided explanations grabbed our attention. I quote, “It is necessary to authorize Starship test flight 2 vehicle communications from the launch pad at Boca Chica, Texas, and the experimental recovery operation following the Starship test vehicle demo launch.

“Starship Test Flight 2 You’ve heard it right. Starship Test flight number two. It is on again. The period of operation for this request lasts from June 15th to December 15th, 2023. Granted, a launch window spanning six months isn’t really precise, but it is a possible launch window nonetheless.

Technically if everything went flawless, the earliest the second Starship can launch from Starbase will be in June, though it would be nearly impossible to make it happen.

Elon Musk: "The second Starship orbital launch in 2 months with B9/S25"
Elon Musk: “The second Starship orbital launch in 2 months with B9/S25”

Suborbital Tank Farm Update Now, you might be wondering which prototypes will be used for this upcoming event. We’ve touched upon this topic before, but there has been a surprising new development in this regard. Recently, the suborbital tank farm has been getting some attention.

The protective berm shielding the ground support equipment from debris has been almost completely covered with concrete indicating that both pads A and B are nowhere close to retirement.

In a rather unexpected twist on May 17th, ship 25 started rolling down Massey’s Road, likely to enter the launch site soon. Ship 25 UpdateQuite some time has passed since Ship 24’s copycat has been finished so you’d think that any additional testing of this prototype would be a waste of time.

Who knows, maybe after all, ship 25 is the chosen one, and instead of being scrappedSpaceX decided that it’s good enough to take part in the next orbital flight attempt. It would be a weird decision if its design is redundant by now, and we’re not convinced that Ship 25 is compatible with Booster 9, but who knows what’s inside Elon’s head? cryogenic test Perhaps there is a way to make it work.

Even if the only reason for moving this prototype to the suborbital launch site would be to conduct a cryogenic test, it would still be nice to see any testing activity resume at Starbase. Our one and only WAI camera operator Chiefcaptured tankers filling up the suborbital tank farm with liquid methane, so a static fire is not out of the question.

Booster 6 rupturedSeeing ships 25 on the move was a sight to see, but believe it or not that wasn’t the most exciting activity seen at Massey’s test site in the last few days. On May 15th during testing, an old test tank known as Booster 6 was ruptured.

While that in itself isn’t out of the ordinary for this test site, what is suspicious was the bright flash just before the tank collapsed. Right there. Boom.FTS testThis indicates to us that an external force was used to puncture the test article purposefully.

Now, where do we know that from? You probably know what I’m about to say now. This very likely could have been a flight termination system test. As revealed by Elon Musk himself, the FTS during Star Ship’s initial flight failed to destroy the vehicle instantaneously.

Instead, it took around 40 seconds from the FTS detonation to the vehicle disintegrating. We anticipated that a new charge had to be tested at some point before the second flight. It just came as a surprise that SpaceX would do this so quickly.

It’s hard to tell whether the vehicle was pressurized during the event. It was filled to the brim with water as seen on LabPadre’s camera. Hopefully, this test served as a valuable opportunity for engineers at SpaceX to investigate why the flight termination system had trouble terminating Starship.

Mega Bay 2 construction has lots of termination. Safety always has to come first and I do believe that they’ll address this issue before the next orbital flight attempt. Let’s briefly shift attention to the build site which is once again starting to look like a massive construction site.

The aerial view of Starbase reveals that work is happening regardless of where you look. Despite the foundations of Mega Bay 2 still appearing relatively flat, progress can be seen on the third section of its second floor at Sanchez and it seems nearly complete.

Right next to it lay parts that will make up the fourth section likely in just days from now. The expansion near the Star Factory is a crazy example of rapid development. A section of the expanded area has already had its concrete flooring poured.

Moreover, a metal frame was installed atop the press pit, possibly to support the heavy machinery that will inevitably be installed there. The area outlined by the concrete slabs indicates that this future building will be equal to or greater in size compared to the existing part of the factory.

I can’t wait to see how giant the star factory will be once it absorbs all the production tents. Sadly, as exciting as it sounds, it will also greatly reduce our ability to document what’s happening on the inside. That’s a sacrifice we’re willing to take though.

Mass production, here we come. Kathy Lueders joins SpaceXLastly, new talent has been welcomed at Starbase. Kathy Lueders has led NASA’s human space flight program for many years. She was the one who oversaw the Crew Dragon program, making sure that SpaceX’s capsules were as safe as they could be for human travel.

In March 2023, it was announced that Kathy planned to retire from NASA by the end of April. Now, weeks later, it became evident why she made that decision when on May 15th, Lueders joined SpaceX as a general manager. Should NASA officials join private companies in her new role, Kathy will report directly to SpaceX’s chief operating Officer, Gwynne Shotwell.

This announcement stirred up the conversation online. Some argue that NASA’s officials shouldn’t be allowed to join private companies especially those they formally worked with. On the other hand, some view it as something completely normal, arguing that one’s past work history shouldn’t be a limiting factor.

I think that looking at Kathy’s previous work experiences does an excellent job of making sure that Starship has checked all the boxes before a human ever gets on board. What do you think? Will she help the Starship program or may this whole situation be a clear conflict of interest? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

Elon Musk: "The second Starship orbital launch in 2 months with B9/S25"
Elon Musk: “The second Starship orbital launch in 2 months with B9/S25”

Axiom 2 mission while you’re at it, leave us a like, subscribe to the channel, or become a channel member or a patron by either clicking the join button under the video or by following the Patreon link in the description.

Now let’s get excited about another Falcon 9 launch. At first glance, this upcoming mission may seem like any other, but there is so much more to it. Naturally, I’m talking about Axiom 2, another science-packed mission brought to you by the pioneers of Private International Space Station Ventures.

As a result of a collaboration between Axiom Space and SpaceX, four people aboard Crew Dragon Freedom will visit this truly remarkable place. Peggy Whitson, John Shoffner, Ali AlQarni, and Rayyanah Barnawi underwent similar training to that of a NASA astronaut.

Taking part in short parabolic flights and enduring high G forces in a centrifuge were just some of the crazy activities the crew had to complete to prove that they were capable of surviving in the harsh environment of space.

During their eight-day stay, these soon-to-be commercial astronauts will conduct a plethora of experiments, helping to research stem cell behavior and microgravity and get a deeper understanding of how the human body adapts to space.

The AX-2 mission is also a test bed for systems and tools that can be later incorporated into the Axiom Habitation Module One, the first puzzle piece of Axiom’s private space station

Why is this mission extraordinary Currently, liftoff is scheduled for Sunday, May 21st at 5:37 PM Eastern Time. So why is this mission extraordinary? What’s so special about it? Pretty simple.

This launch will be the first crewed Falcon 9 mission to feature a return to launch site maneuver and it will be the first one to have the crew suit up and prepare directly at Pad 39 A.

Cutting down on the time needed to get the booster back and getting the crew ready closer to the pad is key to keeping up with SpaceX’s mind-boggling launch cadence. It’s a streamlined process.

By utilizing landing zone one for crewed launches, drone ships will be available for missions with higher delta-V needs, and by getting the crew ready closer to the pad the time needed before the launch will be reduced as well.

Starling constellationFiguring out if a return to the launch site is a viable option for crewed launches was possible through years of experience in sending Starlink commissions. Now, try to wrap your head around this.

Throughout just four years astounding 80 Starlink launches have already taken place. In the past week alone, the Constellation grew by 107 satellites thanks to just two launches, Starlink 2-9 and Starlink 5-9.

The first one gave us quite a show, launching on a spotless sunlit afternoon from the West Coast SLC-4E.In true SpaceX fashion, the landing of booster B1075 was nothing short of amazing, as it precisely hit the bull’s eye, touching down on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship.

Drone shipSomething that was once deemed nearly impossible has become an everyday occurrence. For me, this will never get old to watch.

Moving to the primary site of US base Flight, Florida, a second Starlink flight lit up the starry night of SLC-40 on May 14th. After successfully deploying another batch of 56 satellites into orbit, booster B1067 gently descended onto “Just Read the Instructions”, located 660 kilometers or 410 miles down range from the launch site.

This flawless landing marks the 11th time this marvelReusabilityof engineering was used to send a payload into space and while this may sound amazing, it’s only the beginning. At the Axiom 2 press conference, William Gerstenmaier, Vice President of Build and Flight Reliability at SpaceX, and another human space flight director from NASA announced that the company is in the process of certifying Falcon 9 boosters to enable their reuse up to 20 times.

Granted right now, SpaceX wants to limit this change only to Starlink missions. Nonetheless, this is a considerable leap forward in extended reusability. Just think about it. Instead of using 20 expendable rockets, one Falcon 9 might be enough to do the job.

Who knows how far they can push the boundary of reusability? 30 launches, 50, perhaps even a hundred. Time will tell. Before I tell you a story about a company that has an entirely different view on reusability, let’s take a moment to hear a message from our sponsor.

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Astra SpaceNow that that’s done, let’s talk about Astra Space. Once buzzing with confidence in their Rocket 3, and even going so far as to announce daily launches by 2025, Astra is now desperately trying to survive as their stock plummeted in 2022 after a series of failed launches.

To overcome the inevitable, Chris Kemp’s company officially unveiled Rocket 4, another goal of providing cheap and fast launch services. Rocket 4, standing at 19 meters or 62 feet tall, is nearly twice the size of Rocket 3.

It boasts a brand new propulsion system, ditching its previous configuration of five electrically fed engines in favor of two turbo pump-fed beasts. Rocket 4 Specs A bigger rocket means a bigger payload. Rocket 4 is supposedly capable of sending payloads of up to 600 kilograms or 1,322 pounds into a 550 kilometers or 310 miles orbit.

That’s four times more than even the most beefed-up variant of Rocket 3. It even outnumbers the current leader in the small-sat market, Rocket Lab’s Electron. Astra’s strong belief in their product success led them to go full throttle, designing and building a production line capable of making one rocket per day without flying even a single prototype.

Thanks to the launch site is easily packed into a few shipping containers, in theory, Rocket 4 can be launched from virtually any place in the world. While I love the idea of a small, quickly deployable rocket, Rocket 3 promised mostly the same things and it didn’t live up to expectations.

Despite Astra lately securing some government contracts they need to figure out how to make money fast. The current rate at which they are spending money and the fact that they have zero revenue may lead to potential bankruptcy, unfortunately in less than a year.

Spitzer Space TelescopeFingers crossed, Astra, you can make it. Follow me on Twitter at FelixSchlang and I’ll let you know once the Rocket 4 launch date is revealed. Last week, I told you about the incredible and ongoing race to save the Hubble Space Telescope before its inevitable death.

While this satellite got a lot of attention, another space robotic mission nearly flew under our radar. Launched in 2003, the Spitzer Space Telescope was the last of NASA’s great observatory programs, resulting in an incredible leap forward in understanding our universe.

Up to January 2009, Spitzer was reporting its findings directly from the beautiful world of infrared light. That was until its onboard liquid helium supply was depleted, preventing the telescope from being able to cool itself.

For infrared research, all your instruments have to be as cold as possible if possible, even colder than the average temperature of space, so very cold. However, despite the loss of cooling, some of Spitzer’s instruments remained functional, marking the beginning of the mission’s warm phase.

As the telescope’s orbit shifted, Spitzer had to execute challenging maneuvers to contact our home planet at all. This in return led to battery drainage, as when facing the earth, its solar panels were receiving minimal sunlight.

In January 2020, NASA decided to conclude the mission by placing the Spitzer into safe mode. It is believed, however, that the telescope is technically functional to this day, it’s just unable to transmit data back to Earth.

That’s where a small company called Rhea Space Activity comes into play. Recently, they received a $250,000 grant from the US Space Force to design a robotic mission to restore some of Spitzer’s functionality.

Shaw Usman, the chief executive Officer of Rhea Spacesaid in an interview that “This mission would be the most ambitious thing ever done in the field of robotics space servicing.

“Talking about designing space telescopes for easy maintenance in the future, hmm? Spitzer Resurgence ConceptTheir proposed concept, the Spitzer Resurrector, I love this name, envisions a small one-by-one meter satellite that would require approximately three years to reach Spitzer, assuming it would launch in 2026.

Once in the proximity of 100 to 50, kilometers Resurrector would evaluate Spitzer’s condition and send a wake-up call to the telescope.Ringing the doorbell.If successful, the satellite would function as a relay, transmitting its data back to Earth, enabling the telescope to operate in a warm mode without the need to move every time communication is needed.

While the proposed mission sounds incredibly cool, the only problem is its price. To develop and send the spacecraft, Rhea Space is seeking another $350 million grant.

Securing such funding for a mission that possesses so many challenges will be a hard task. What if Spitzer is unresponsive or beyond repair?What if the Resurrectordoesn’t reach its destination at all? Even in the best-case scenario where everything goes according to plan, the Spitzer Space Telescope would only be partially fixed as there is no plan or even a way to refill its helium tanks. That’s why it seems like this mission will remain a theoretical one.

On the other hand, not everything has to be profitable, so maybe it will get funded just to prove that humanity can do incredible things. Again, maybe a fuel cap would be a great thing for future space telescopes, just saying.

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