SpaceX Starship prototype nosecone topples in high Texas winds

Part of SpaceX’s Starship prototype toppled over due to recent strong winds in Texas, causing damage that will take weeks to repair. The prototype …

Part of SpaceX’s Starship prototype toppled over due to recent strong winds in Texas, causing damage that will take weeks to repair. The prototype spaceship is being built in southern Texas, where a storm recently caused 50MPH winds strong enough to break mooring blocks and knock over the test rocket’s nosecone. The rocket’s base remained undamaged, however.

News of the incident first appeared in a tweeted image by Chris B. of the NASA SpaceFlight website. The incident was confirmed in later tweets stating that the damage will take “a few weeks” to fix. Though it’s a setback for the aerospace company, the damage won’t ultimately have a huge impact on SpaceX’s plans.

Whoops. Starship Hopper nosecone has been blown over in high winds.

📸NSF’s BocaChicaGal https://t.co/liIk970sm5pic.twitter.com/6rgGtZmAE2

— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) January 23, 2019

In its most recent update, NASA SpaceFlight states that the rocket fairing has been moved under a dome ahead of its planned repairs.

The Starship is made of stainless steel instead of carbon fiber due to a combination of its relative ease of use and lower cost. The prototype version of Starship is smaller than than the anticipated final rocket, and it’ll be used for flights that don’t go into orbit.

SpaceX is developing the Starship and Super Heavy Rocket as a reusable single system to eventually replace its Falcon 9, Heavy and Dragon products, the result being a single system for different types of space missions. SpaceX states on its website that Starship could be used for delivering satellite payloads, cargo and people to the ISS, and for deliveries to the moon and Mars.

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News Brief: SpaceX Leaves Port, Moves Some Work to Texas

SAN PEDRO- As previously reported by the Los Angeles Times, in a reversal of plans SpaceX has chosen not to build its Mars spaceship and rocket …

Jan. 22

SAN PEDRO- As previously reported by the Los Angeles Times, in a reversal of plans SpaceX has chosen not to build its Mars spaceship and rocket booster system at the Port of Los Angeles. The tech company will instead build and test the prototype in south Texas.

In a statement this week, the company said the decision was made to “streamline operations.”

SpaceX completed assembly of a prototype of the Starship hopper vehicle at its Boca Chica facility in south Texas. The company plans to conduct tests at that facility in which the prototype will launch and go up in the air briefly before returning to Earth.

SpaceX leased about eight acres at the Port of L.A. that it used for recovery of Falcon 9 first-stage boosters and Dragon capsules, which arrive at shore via drone ships. A new deal which was approved last year, would have given SpaceX use of a 19-acre site on Terminal Island. SpaceX was to have an initial 10-year lease at the port with two additional 10-year extension options.

The move happened right after SpaceX announced that it would lay off about 10 percent of the company’s more than 6,000 employees.

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SpaceX Crew Dragon Readies for Static Fire Test Ahead of Maiden Voyage

On February 16, SpaceX is set to finally launch the Crew Dragon on its maiden voyage, opening the way for resumed crewed flights to space from …
The launch date is of course subject to change, but this will not stop SpaceX from going ahead with preparations. The private space company has a static fire test scheduled for Wednesday, January 23, on launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The test is a rehearsal for the actual launch, without the Falcon 9 rocket that carries the Crew Dragon actually taking off. The Crew Dragon will be rolled out to the launch platform, raised upright and fueled. The launch countdown follows, and a brief ignition of the rocket engines occurs.

If the test goes well, SpaceX enters the final stretch toward a historic moment. The February launch is a test for a spaceship that has a lot riding on it, from trips to the International Space Station (ISS) to the eventual journey to Mars.

Among other things, the maiden flight will test the capsule’s capability to automatically dock with the ISS. The capsule will remain in orbit for a couple of days, then head back to Earth, where it will attempt a parachute-assisted landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

This first crewed test flight for the capsule is scheduled for June, with two NASA veterans on board: Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, both members of several Endeavour and Atlantis missions.

When fully operational, the Crew Dragon will be capable of carrying up to seven astronauts who will be seated in carbon fiber seats wrapped in Alcantara cloth. When perched on top the Big Falcon Rocket, it could head for the Moon or even Mars.

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SpaceX’s Starship will ‘bleed water’ from small holes on the outside, says Musk

Elon Musk tweeted this image of the “real” spacecraft, and not a rendition, to his and SpaceX’s followers on 11 January. Image: Twitter/ElonMusk.

tech2 News StaffJan 23, 2019 13:37:55 IST

SpaceX‘s Starship rocket — a prototype for a shuttle to the moon and Mars won’t just look like the coolest steel flying machine ever built – it’ll actually stay pretty cool thanks to the shiny steel.

Elon Musk tweeted this image of the

Elon Musk tweeted this image of the “real” spacecraft, and not a rendition, to his and SpaceX’s followers on 11 January. Image: Twitter/ElonMusk

Starship is made of stainless steel, as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet long ago — a material that is capable of resisting heat well, with a generous coat of polish to give it a shiny, reflective surface.

Skin will get too hot for paint. Stainless mirror finish. Maximum relfectivity.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2018

This makes it a superior choice to the usual, carbon-fibre body that SpaceX has gone with to build its other rockets, including its workhorse, the Falcon 9.

Musk also elaborated on the unusual choice of stainless steel over carbon fibre in a recent interview with Popular Mechanics.

In Musk’s own words, “The thing that’s counterintuitive about the stainless steel is…it’s obviously cheap, it’s obviously fast, but it’s not obviously the lightest…But it is actually the lightest. If you look at the properties of high-quality stainless steel, what isn’t obvious is that at cryogenic temperatures, its strength is boosted by 50%.”

He also used some other words to explain himself, but they ended up prompting more questions and confused memes than provide an ounce of clarity.

When going to ~1750 Kelvin, specific heat is more important than latent heat of vaporization, which is why cryogenic fuel is a slightly better choice than water

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 22, 2019

But that’s just half of what makes Starship so very badass. Musk has also attempted something with the rocket that no one thought was actually possible: a regenerative heat shield.

“A stainless-steel sandwich, essentially, with two layers…that are joined with stringers. You flow either fuel or water between the sandwich layers, and then have micro-perforations on the outside—very tiny perforations…you essentially bleed water, or you could bleed fuel, through the micro-perforations,” Musk toldPopular Mechanics.

An artistic rendition of the SpaceX Starship rocket in Low-Earth Orbit. Image: SpaceX

An artistic rendition of the SpaceX Starship rocket in Low-Earth Orbit. Image: SpaceX

These tiny perforations won’t be visible to observers till you get up close to the rocket’s body. Much like water evaporating from a leaf’s surface, the cooling that comes from the process (transpiration) is part of what gives the rocket’s heat shield its ‘regenerative’ property.

Starship will look as chrome and cocktail mixer-like as it does now. A closer look will reveal the rocket’s outside (or the windward side) are double-walled for a double purpose – to cool the rocket using a whole new heat shield technology and giving the rocket added stiffness so it doesn’t crumble mid-flight like the last rocket that featured a stainless steel body – the Russian Atlas.

“You have a heat shield that serves double duty as structure…To the best of my knowledge, this has never been proposed before,” Musk said.

Innovative use of kitchenware alloys and teasers every few weeks are leading up to what space junkies are really waiting for – to see the glitzy mammoth fly.

We can expect to see that happen in a matter of weeks, plus a “technical presentation of Starship” after the prototype’s maiden flight in March or April this year.

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SpaceX to static fire Falcon 9 with a spacecraft on board for the first time in two years

SpaceX has rolled Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon out to Pad 39A for the second time ever in preparation for a full wet dress rehearsal (WDR) and static …

SpaceX has rolled Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon out to Pad 39A for the second time ever in preparation for a full wet dress rehearsal (WDR) and static fire – no earlier than Jan. 23 – of booster B1051’s nine Merlin 1D engines, preparing for an orbital launch attempt that slipped from NET Feb. 9 to Feb. 16 earlier this week.

While this milestone is important for myriad other reasons, it happens to be exceptionally unique thanks to one particularly surprising feature: Falcon 9 rolled out for its static fire with Crew Dragon (the rocket’s payload) still attached. This will be the first time in more than 28 months – since Amos-6, the last catastrophic Falcon 9 failure – that SpaceX has performed its routine on-pad static fire with a valuable payload attached to the rocket.

The Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon are now in position at launch pad 39A in readiness for a crucial test firing of its nine first-stage engines as soon as tomorrow: https://t.co/kYCr6Nzd0Ipic.twitter.com/9VDXJL7ZLX

— Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) January 22, 2019

On September 1st, 2016, a SpaceX Falcon 9 experienced the rocket family’s second catastrophic failure ever when supercool liquid oxygen froze around a COPV’s carbon fiber wrappings, expanding just enough to breach the ultra-high-pressure vessel. Falcon 9 and its ~$200M Amos-6 satellite payload were completely destroyed, while Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) suffered tens of millions of dollars of damage that would effectively require it to be completely rebuilt over the course of more than a year.

After Amos-6, SpaceX immediately halted the practice of including customer payloads on Falcon 9 during static fires, used to save 24-48 hours of time between static fire and launch. SpaceX nevertheless retained the option if customers were to explicitly request it, otherwise wisely concluding (likely with more than a little encouragement from insurance companies) that expediting schedules by a few dozen hours was not worth the entirely unnecessary risk to satellite payloads that often cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take years to build.

@SpaceX@CrewDragon2 on the pad ahead of tomorrow’s static fire test. Sorry, didn’t have my DSLR with me, so crappy cell phone photo is all I can offer.

Note the change in paint scheme on the tower. @Commercial_Crew@SpaceXUpdates@AsgardiaSpacepic.twitter.com/yZNq8I36c6

— K. Scott Piel (@spiel2001) January 22, 2019

Given that SpaceX has stuck to that practice for all 38 Falcon 9 launches it has performed between Amos-6 and the present day, it seems all but guaranteed that the first orbit-ready Crew Dragon’s presence on Falcon 9 during its static fire has been done only at the specific request of the launch customer – in this case, NASA. It’s probably not hyperbolic to argue that Demo-1’s (DM-1) Crew Dragon is the most valuable, important, expensive, and irreplaceable spacecraft SpaceX has ever attempted to launch, having likely spent millions of work hours building, changing, refining, and testing it to meet NASA’s exacting and sometimes absurd requirements.

If Falcon 9 B1051 were to fail with Crew Dragon atop it during its Pad 39A static fire, it might be possible for the DM-2’s Crew Dragon to be completed and modified for an uncrewed test flight with just six months of delay, assuming Falcon 9’s mode of failure could be investigated and repaired to NASA’s satisfaction. However, the destruction of the DM-1 capsule and trunk could almost indefinitely delay SpaceX’s first crewed launch, dependent upon an inflight-abort test that is supposed to use the refurbished DM-1 capsule, while the Crew Dragon currently supposed to launch after DM-2 is unlikely to be ready before August or September 2019.

The first complete Crew Dragon is likely just days away from rolling out to Pad 39A atop Falcon 9. (SpaceX)

An impressive view of Crew Dragon (DM-1), Falcon 9 B1051, and its upper stage. (SpaceX)

DM-1 and Falcon 9 were greeted by an extraordinary – albeit mildly bittersweet – dawn during their first-ever trip out to Pad 39A. (SpaceX)

Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon vertical at Pad 39A. (SpaceX)

Crew Dragon and its crew-rated Falcon 9 went vertical at a launch pad (Pad 39A) for the first time ever on January 4th. (SpaceX)

Ultimately, NASA likely requested that Crew Dragon remain atop Falcon 9 for this static fire out of some desire for a full-fidelity test environment and complement of data. There is perhaps a very limited chance that Crew Dragon will be fully fueled with hydrazine (MMH/NTO) and have its launch escape system (LES) active and ready to go in the event of a rocket failure.

Why they deemed the immense potential risk to be worthwhile is far less clear. Whether it is being done out of complacency or a desire for expediency or ultra-realistic test data, the risk is the same. In theory, Falcon 9 has been tested extensively and should operate perfectly, just as expected. So was Amos-6’s Falcon 9.


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