SpaceX Starship Booster Upgrades Needed After Static Fire, Artemis 1 Ready?

SpaceX Starship Booster Upgrades Needed After Static Fire, Artemis 1 Ready, JWST, Soyuz MS-22 & More?:- we had flights full of new insights, and we had Musk unleashing a treasure trove of information. More Falcon 9 action finally after repeated delays. Soyuz MS-22 successfully launched to the International Space Station with two cosmonauts and NASA Astronaut Frank Rubio.

Exciting and positive Artemis 1 updates after some repairs and tests. And there is quite a lot more I’m going to squeeze in here as well. This one is dense so let’s jump into it. So, the week started with some great indicators of imminent action.

The site was prepared for testing, the tower arms rose, and the tank farm was activated to load the propellant into Booster 7. In a very routine-looking process, there we had it! SPIN PRIME! Very similar to the previous one. This looked to last between 12 to 13 seconds.

Thanks to Ryan Hansen Space here for deducing that this is a different configuration of 7 engines compared to the spin primes last week. Very good spatial awareness Ryan! We were of course up for much more action that day, but the booster first needed to depressurize.

Not even an hour later the frost rose again as Elon tweeted informing us all that SpaceX was gearing up for a seven-engine Static Fire. Shortly after that, we got the notification of the siren indicating that the action was approximately 10 minutes away.

Well, more like 30 minutes which is what it ended up being before this incredible sight by NASASpaceFlight. Also, be sure to check out CosmicPerspective’s high-resolution slow-motion video of this in the description. Amazing.

We didn’t have to wait long to speculate how many engines were fired as Musk indicated that the chamber pressure looked good followed by this simply spectacular drone view of the static fire! Great way indeed to clear the dust. I must admit, I needed to look twice to make sure this wasn’t a render.

SpaceX has cleaned up the site beautifully over the past few weeks. This is a good sign of exciting progress to come. Elon continued with his surge of information that day! While still checking out all that sweet static fire action he dropped a major bomb on us! It looks like they want to get Booster 8 testing done at least partially while they give Booster 7 a robustness upgrade.

It isn’t entirely clear exactly what this means. Certainly the installation of the engine shrouds and shielding. I wonder if they will also add a more permanent solution to the engine chill vents which currently seem incompatible with the Orbital Launch Mount changes.

Time will tell on that one. So yes, after Booster 7’s big day of testing, at 6 pm that evening, Booster 8 left the wide bay ahead of its rollout to the launch site. An hour later it was already on Highway 4 to begin its journey, arriving at the launch site at just after 8 pm.

SpaceX was not messing around here. It was time to prepare for Booster 7 to be taken off the orbital launch mount to be replaced with Booster 8. But first, some Raptor engine changes. Overnight 2 Raptors were removed. The first is a central engine and the second is a raptor boost engine.

The next day, Raptor Boost engine 82 was spotted being lifted and installed as a replacement. Both of the engines that were removed were returned to the building site and loaded onto a Raptor Truck. So yes, onto SpaceX’s first attempt to move Booster 7’s from the mount.

That kicked off on Tuesday when teams moved its transport stand over to the arms. After a few hours of prep work, the arms were raised and opened, and carefully closed on the lifting pins. At this point, it looked like the arms slightly lifted it, but they seemed to abort the process and reopened the road.

Hopefully, nothing was wrong with the systems here! Later that night the Booster Quick Disconnect was hooked back up to pressurize the booster until the next step. The next day, attempt 2 of the lift was underway.

The stabilization arms grabbed onto Booster 7 after it was slightly lifted and then up it rose. After being aligned above the transport stand, it was lowered down and secured. The road was closed for its careful journey back to the production facility.

That wasn’t everything at the Orbital launch mount though, as later in the week SpaceX seem to have performed a lot of testing regarding the newly added water fire suppression system. Multiple tests were performed, and at times between tests, crews added additional hardware.

Interestingly it does indeed look like the water was being mixed with nitrogen gas. Comparatively a fairly quiet week for ship 24 which seems to be having repairs and upgrade work being down on it since its epic static fire.

As spotted by Starship gazer a new cover was lifted for the Starlink version 2 payload door. Later in the week he also spotted the door being welded on, which seems to suggest that there will be no deployment of any satellites on this vehicle even as a test.

Over at the building site, work is of course continuing on the future vehicles. Ship 26’s nose cone was once again moved over in front of the highway, hopefully, this time ahead of stacking. That nose cone is still missing the tiles and flaps and as such it’s still very likely that we won’t see these on the entire vehicle.

Thanks to a label found by RGV aerial photography we now know that Ship 27’s payload bay has indeed been reassigned to Ship 26. Speaking of this barrel section, a new Starlink PEZ dispenser was being lifted inside of this payload bay.

Compared to Ship 24’s PEZ dispenser it looks like it has evolved quite a lot. Ship 25 is still actively being worked on. It was lifted off of the turntable and placed onto its transport stand early on in the week. Quickly after that one of its aft flaps was lifted into the highway so getting close to having another ship in action.

Later in the week the other aft flap was lifted into the Highbay fully completing the major components of Ship 25 excluding its Raptor engines. Just after our video went live last weekend, Booster 9’s liquid oxygen tank was stacked on another four-ring section, bringing the whole tank to 20 out of 24 rings tall.

Booster 9 as mentioned here has some significant upgrades to protect the engines from other exploding engines, along with ”other design changes”. Booster 7 and 8 sound like they are being partially upgraded, but the intention is still, Musk says, going to be the first to attempt flight at this stage.

Well, with some risk involved. This means we need to keep being a little patient. At this stage, it seems that this highly anticipated event is still at least a month or two away. Now, all the way over to Starbase Florida, again a lot of really great updates.

LabPadre and I had Greg Scott and Fariello back up in the air, and they were running against the clock with the weather moving in too but timed it perfectly. Just check out that Starfactory when compared to a few weeks ago.

Crazy progress with a lot more of the outer cladding being installed. Looks like the cladding on the side of the Star factory is black, which fully matches up with the render we had from Musk back in June. Besides that, high bay progress.

There is a colossal amount of components ready for the build. It looks like this Highbay being white was also correctly indicated in that same render. With the last tower section at 39A stacked the previous week, it is looking a little empty here, but the third tower looks like it will be underway in full force soon.

Loads of components are being prepared nearby but just waiting to see the main pillars show up. What is this down here though? Yep! You guessed it. That is the Drawworks hoist system to be installed as the driving force that will drive the wire rope and control the arm’s vertical movement.

Not only that but on the ground right here is also the cable chain being prepared as we speak. That connects the ‘tower base’ to the chopsticks. The arms for the tower certainly now look like they will indeed be used at some point for catching boosters or ships because those pistons were seen here about to be installed.

Wasn’t sure if that would be the case or not, We also have I think the best shot we’ve ever seen so far of this mad looking extended Self Propelled Modular Transport system. That is for Falcon 9 booster transportation so hopefully, we can catch it in action again soon.

Over at the Pad, work has continued on the tank farm with more of the horizontal tanks having been installed. Now we may have some actual ships and boosters here sooner than you think. We don’t need to wait for high bays and all the ship-building infrastructure first, because Elon said right here that we could be seeing both ships and boosters transported here by boat in quarter 2 of 2023.

The big question is, will they transport them horizontally as I mentioned months ago, or am I wrong with SpaceX somehow transporting a legless 70-meter tall, 9-meter-wide booster vertically over 2,000 kilometers in quite rough seas? Let me know below.

Thanks a heap to all of the Patrons of Greg Scotts helping to support these flights with Fariello. Those can’t happen without you so the entire community appreciates it. And hey, thanks for all you do to keep up to date right here. I’m looking forward to a huge video that we are putting lives in in exactly 2 weeks.

This deep dive on artificial gravity options that Starship can help provide. Make sure you hit all the things you need to hit these days to have that pop up for you. I’ve also got an email list in the description if you prefer to be notified of new videos that way.

I think you are going to love that one. Now, reaching orbit is not easy no matter how routine it becomes. Sometimes there are delays no one can control. One such variable is of course that pesky weather. After all the previous attempts, SpaceX finally launched Falcon 9 rocket with 54 Starlink satellites equipped with laser communications.

With just a mere 20% chance of a no go this time, the countdown proceeded as planned. Lifting off last Sunday from space launch complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, it rocketed away. The shots there in the darkness were quite the spectacle followed by the usual rapid sequence of events here of stage separation and fairing jettison.

The first stage made its way safely back to the drone ship ”Just Read the Instructions”. The sixth launch and landing for this booster. Successful payload deployment was later confirmed on social media. On target for almost 1 launch a week this year, the Starlink constellation has now exceeded 3,200 satellites in total.

SpaceX has also recently announced that it will provide higher-performance satellite internet to its residential users. This premium service aims to provide download speeds of up to 350mbps to those users.

This was kind of possible before but was previously limited to business customers. Comparatively, the residential users were limited to peak speeds of about 200mbps. The hardware component is expensive.

$2,500 upfront for the high-performance hardware, but the monthly cost is pretty darn good at 110 per month. The higher-performance hardware is also able to cover more sky to connect to more satellites. Something which should also perform better in harsh weather conditions.

Two Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, and NASA Astronaut Frank Rubio have successfully reached the ISS. The launch there is about as routine as any from Soyuz. After all this time it is about as routine as it gets now.

Always great to see that unique Korolev Cross there about 2 minutes into the flight. The rendezvous with the ISS is super fast with Soyuz docking about three hours later. With the crew boarded, they will be busy for the next 6 months, performing all the science experiments they bought along.

If everything goes as planned, they should land back in late March next year. Now, this launch as you know is part of the crew swap program between NASA and ROSCOSMOS, where one astronaut from each agency will share a ride with another.

This can be seen as a way of easing the rocky tensions between the two agencies, on which the near future of the ISS very much depends. NASA and ROSCOSMOS agreed to fly NASA’s Frank Rubio on the Soyuz MS-22, and Russia’s Anna Kikina on SpaceX’s Crew-5.

That by the way is the first time a Russian has been on board an American space vehicle since the STS-113 mission back in 2002. Interestingly, no funds are being shared between the US and Russia. It’s just the astronauts hitchhiking on each other’s rocketships.

Right now, Anna is training for her flight at SpaceX Headquarters in California. The Crew-5 mission is set to launch in the first week of October and I’m hyped for that event. Time flies I know, but Crew 4 launched back in April so it has been a while since we’ve seen Crew Dragon in action.

NASA’s decision to keep the Space Launch System at pad 39B is looking like the right move for the Artemis test flight campaign. There were options presented on how to proceed soon after the aborted launch attempt three weeks ago.

The correct decision was made to replace the leaking seals on the quick disconnect and test while at the pad. The result of this work was the recent discovery of an apparent indentation of just under 0.1 inches in a seal at the quick disconnect, potentially created by foreign object debris.

No debris was recovered so what exactly created the dent and thus the significant Hydrogen leak is still not known at this time. It could be thermal or pressure shock or some other scenario. That will become clearer as the teams analyze data and work through the “fault tree” to pinpoint the cause.

This finding though must reassure NASA somewhat and give quiet confidence that this persistent Hydrogen leak problem has likely been fixed once and for all. With that good news, the team pushed onwards to the critical cryogenic fueling demonstration.

Something that can only be done at the pad anyway. Loading of Liquid Oxygen and Hydrogen began around 1 pm local time. Orion and the boosters were not powered on and the focus was entirely on the fuel loading process.

After an initial leak was detected, they seemed to get everything sealed off well, and as was shared soon after, “all objectives for the Artemis I cryogenic demonstration have been met”. That is very good news and the team began evaluating the data along with weather to see if they could confirm readiness for a September 27 launch attempt.

Could we see a launch as early as next week? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If NASA does launch SLS and the Orion capsule soon, it will certainly be an impressive turnaround from events a few weeks ago. We should know by Sunday at the latest if a launch attempt will be made next week. Then a backup opportunity on October second.

I am hoping all the hard work they have put in results in a smooth ride from this point. Quite a revelation recently from the MARS Perseverance rover as it continues to explore the ancient river delta that is of great interest to NASA and the science community at large.

Samples collected recently include the highest concentration of organic compounds discovered so far from the Jezero crater. A geological formation covering some 45km or 28 miles. Now organics is just a fancy way for us to say that we are finding the presence of carbon molecules, but this is still rather exciting.

This sample was taken from sedimentary rock further implying that there may well have been a habitable environment present some time in the very distant past on the red planet.

These compounds are often formed under natural processes so this is not proof that life once existed on Mars, but it is a tantalizing clue on the trail of discovery.

We are just going to have to “persevere” until the sample tubes are collected in a future mission and returned to earth for in-depth analysis. Now, with everything I’ve talked about already, it starts to become clear that I’ve run out of time.

A few quick mentions though as I thank you for joining in yet again to help kick my channel here along. Couldn’t do it without you all and all your help liking and sharing the content. Seeing as I just talked about Mars, the James Webb Space Telescope captured its first images and spectra of the red planet just recently.

This was captured by the Near-Infrared Camera showing the eastern hemisphere. What is crazy is that Mars is so close that the instruments were supersaturated. The Astronomers needed to adjust for that extreme brightness by measuring only some of the light data hitting the detectors.

Plus James Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera also nabbed a beautiful shot of the planet Neptune. Made from extremely fine and dark dust particles, Neptune’s rings have barely been detected since Voyager 2’s flyby in 1989. Webb might have just raised the bar a notch though with the dust band never being so clear.

This image contains 7 of the planet’s 14 known moons. What’s more, the ice giants are usually considered to be more void of features compared to the terrestrial planets and the gas giants, however, since the methane in Neptune’s lower atmosphere absorbs a lot of light at the infrared end of the spectrum, from Webb’s perspective, the clouds in the upper atmosphere almost glow compared to the rest of the planet.

Here is something I think is quite spectacular. Relativity Space completed a 57-second test of the Terran 1’s first stage which is the longest test fire. Tim Ellis shared this as he mentioned looking forward to the first full-duration test.

Every step of the way has been super smooth as far as we’ve seen so hopefully a full-duration test is coming soon. Remember also we have the always incredible Delta IV Heavy launch coming up shortly from Vandenberg Space Force Base, the last time ever that we are going to see a launch from there.


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