What has happened to our heads for a month? SpaceX took over the news in June, in preparation for Elon Musk, the FAA report, and Starship’s first flight, which will be powered by 33 engines.
SpaceX: Faster, higher, bigger
SpaceX is resuming its – spatial – progress The American firm broke another record a few days ago by launching three in less than 36 hours. For this, SpaceX has used its reusable launcher, Falcon 9. These include 53 satellites labeled Starlink, a radar imaging satellite built by Airbus for the German military, and finally an additional satellite for the operator Globalstar, which was sent into orbit by SpaceX. Between 17 and 19 June.
Note that two of these missions were conducted from Florida, while the second, on behalf of Airbus, was conducted from a launch site in California located at the Vanderburgh military base. The three launchers have returned to Barge Land off the coast of Florida and California as planned and can be used again. Moreover, a launcher was celebrating its thirteenth use!
In the video, here is the landing of the Falcon 9, back from the mission.
The first leg of the Falcon 9 landed on the Just Read the Instruction droneship pic.twitter.com/3Mqa22OWqw
SpaceX (@spaceX) June 19, 2022
Despite everything, SpaceX is going through a delicate time: Elon Musk, who recently acquired the social network Twitter, has been chained online. If the local South African is accustomed to this reality, it seems that his recent travels have eroded the confidence of SpaceX employees and created an atmosphere of anxiety within the company. As a result, some SpaceX employees sent a letter expressing their dissatisfaction. Before being fired.
Also, recent allegations of harassment against Elon Musk have added to this heavy climate.
Finally, the FAA, the federal aviation agency that oversees the approval of private flights across the Atlantic, released its report on June 13 on the environmental impact of SpaceX’s activities in South Texas. A report that forces the American space firm to take 75 steps to reduce its environmental footprint, but which allows SpaceX to continue its activities on the Boca Chika site. Extraordinary ship, an expected, but decisive result for Starship, which Elon Musk and his engineers have been developing for several years.
SpaceX has already conducted high-altitude experiments with the Starship spacecraft, but it is now questionable to operate the first orbital flight using the super-heavy launch vehicle. A big challenge, including multiple stacks: Starship ships will be reusable, so they must be brought back to Earth. These tests have already been successfully completed. Then the launcher. The latest Super Heavy Launcher, Super Heavy Booster 7, was placed on the Boca Chika launch pad just days after the FAA report was released. Equipped with 33 Raptor engines, this giant launcher must test a battery with a static firing test.
On June 23, the launcher was moved by “Mechazilla”, a giant robotic crane mounted on the launch pad, as seen in the video below, two giant mechanical weapons that allow it to move launchers and ships sequentially. To speed up the positioning stages on the launch pad. The proper operation of these robotic cranes is also a big challenge for SpaceX, the size of the super heavy and the starship has made it extremely difficult for them to move in the way they exist today.
SpaceX’s Timelapse has for the first time picked up the world’s most powerful rocket booster with chopsticks. https://t.co/9tCZafcbaB pic.twitter.com/2q6KSEWz00
Michael Baylor (@nextspaceflight) June 24, 2022
Elon Musk, an eternal optimist, wants to take the first flight in July if all tests are completed perfectly. So as not to miss it, SpaceX has set up a live stream from Boca Chika, which lets you keep track of what’s happening on the launch pad:
By Pierre Thuvarez
Headline image: Raptors engine © SpaceX