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Thread: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

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    Default SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Taking advantage of our new Space Flight section. SpaceX's Starship program is pretty interesting for science geeks — and very ambitious. Spectacular, too!

    For anyone unfamiliar with this, it's all about Elon Musk's plan to get to Mars in a few years' time. (And he's likely to succeed.)

    Sci-Fi fans realized they were in the real world when SN10 was rolled out a few days ago to stand alongside SN9. It did look like CGI in a movie.



    Then and now!



    So here's what happened yesterday in SN9's launch. No spoilers.


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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Another video — quite a good one — with commentary analysis (and some guesswork!), with higher resolution slo-mo images.


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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    And an interesting Tweet from Elon Musk. (Maybe 'MadOverlord' will be offered a job)

    Engineering context: the Starship has 3 rocket engines, named 'Raptors'. To flip it back upright for a soft landing, two engines are needed. On SN9's test flight, one engine failed, and the one remaining engine wasn't enough to save it.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/elonmusk/...56507847561217


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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
    And an interesting Tweet from Elon Musk. (Maybe 'MadOverlord' will be offered a job)

    Engineering context: the Starship has 3 rocket engines, named 'Raptors'. To flip it back upright for a soft landing, two engines are needed. On SN9's test flight, one engine failed, and the one remaining engine wasn't enough to save it.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/elonmusk/...56507847561217

    That really was interesting. There was much speculation on Twitter about whether Elon Musk was being sarcastic. After all, it's an obvious suggestion: Starships have 3 engines, and only 2 are needed for a soft landing.

    It turns out that he was entirely serious. They'll implement the changes with the otherwise-identical SN10 (still undamaged on the pad) later this month.

    From a Human Condition viewpoint, it's a perfect example of how someone who's highly intelligent, able, successful and confident is totally comfortable admitting to a "dumb" mistake, as their strong sense of identity is quite unaffected by anything like that.

    Meanwhile, here's the best view I've yet seen of SN9's fate, plummeting out of the sky at terminal velocity. (It does seem a handheld cellphone can sometimes beat all kinds of expensive, specialized cameras.)

    https://twitter.com/i/status/1357448212827705345
    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 5th February 2021 at 12:48.

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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Still be watching for Sn10 - Sn14 - not much between this batch.
    Sn15 is going to be fun though !
    A good few missions reaching Mars this month - two landers and an orbital. Best of luck to everyone involved with those, Mars tends to eat our space fairing dreams !

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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Countdown is on ...

    Good luck SN10


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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Any news on what caused the explosion after it successfully landed?
    When you are one step ahead of the crowd, you are a genius.
    Two steps ahead, and you are deemed a crackpot.

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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Quote Posted by DeDukshyn (here)
    Any news on what caused the explosion after it successfully landed?
    No official word yet on the cause from SpaceX. SpaceX, Elon Musk and Principal Integration Engineer John Insprucker were all pretty buoyant about the flight and all the test data collected.

    The authoritative website NasaSpaceflight.com wrote that it was "likely due to the failure of some of the landing legs". (Starship's landing legs are a known issue, and they'll very likely be re-engineered.)

    It did seem, though, that there was a fire in not quite in the right place as it neared the landing, and that fire continued to burn after it had settled [almost] upright, looking a little like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

    For those who didn't see the flight, here's one of many good videos — though the dramatic music might not be to everyone's taste. (Watch to the very end! )


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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Still no official word from SpaceX on exactly what didn't quite work right at the very end of SN10's otherwise highly successful flight.

    This analysis by Scott Manley, supported by multiple-angle slow-motion video, is the best I've seen so far. There appeared to have been two problems:
    1. Only 3 of the 6 landing legs were locked in place just before landing.
    2. While all 3 Raptor engines fired after its long 'sky-dive' free fall, two of them shut down leaving only one to manage the landing. That was all planned, and it was successfully tipped back to vertical (unlike SN9!). But that one engine didn't develop enough thrust to fully decelerate to a gentle touchdown and instead made a harder-then-intended landing at about 15 mph, then bouncing very slightly on just half its deployed legs.
    That 1-2 combo is not optimum for a very heavy machine like that with quite a lot of methane and liquid oxygen still on board.

    (For North Americans who might wrestle with Manley's strong Scottish accent, just use the 'CC' closed captions. They're extremely accurate.)


    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 7th March 2021 at 12:10.

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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    For any armchair rocket scientists in the house, this is pretty interesting.

    It's tricky to explain simply (and a tricky problem to solve!), but the one-sentence summary is that the very fix that was implemented after SN8's crash landing was what caused SN10's hard landing and explosion. So SpaceX went out of the frying pan into [another] fire.

    To his enormous credit, Elon Musk takes responsibility for everything that happens. That's leadership:

    https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1369382210894237705

    My personal prediction, if I dare make one! SN11, which will fly this month, will land on two engines, not just one.
    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 9th March 2021 at 21:26.

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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Starship SN11 launched early yesterday morning — in crazy-thick fog. No-one could see a darn thing, even pretty close to the launchpad.

    All seemed to go well, till 5 mins 50 secs when SpaceX's on-rocket video feed suddenly froze. Then everyone heard a really loud boom, with a huge orange flash lighting up the fog. Moments later, large pieces of debris came raining down all over the place. No-one outside SpaceX knows yet exactly what happened. (Meaning, what went wrong. It's known that the rocket exploded. )

    This 10 minute video explains all there is to understand — so far. (And the title is very apt!)


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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Spaceport Genocide
    by Arthur Firstenberg <info@cellphonetaskforce.org>
    4/6/21
    https://www.cellphonetaskforce.org/w...t-Genocide.pdf

    "In the western Pacific Ocean between Australia and the equator lies one of the most isolated, least visited places on earth. The second largest island in the world, it is still inhabited by traditional tribal peoples speaking hundreds of different languages. Although geographically and culturally it is a single land, this tropical paradise was divided in 1848 into a western and an eastern half by a line drawn down the middle in an agreement between the Netherlands and Great Britain. They regarded the black people who lived there only as a potential source of cheap labor for the extraction of resources from their land. Among the wealth on and beneath the island of New Guinea are timber, oil, gas, and minerals, including silver and nickel and the largest deposits of gold and copper in the world.

    The eastern half of the island, known as Papua New Guinea, has been independent since 1975 and is struggling to overcome its violent colonial history. The western half, known as West Papua, declared its independence when the Dutch colonial administration withdrew in 1961, but Indonesia, coveting its vast natural resources, invaded and formally absorbed West Papua into Indonesia in 1969. Since that time, Indonesia has engaged in continuous genocide against the indigenous population, who number about 2,000,000 people today. Over 500,000 have been killed, and thousands more have been raped, tortured and imprisoned by the Indonesian military.

    As Paul Antonopoulos and Drew Cottle wrote in their heart-rending August 2019 article, Forgotten Genocide in Indonesia, “The primary reason for Jakarta not granting self-determination to the indigenous people of West Papua is because of the billions of dollars’ worth of natural resources. Although Papuans have been struggling for independence for over half a century, Indonesia through its military has been bolstering its global economic relevance by exploiting the territory’s vast reserves of natural resources that make their way to markets in the US, Canada, Europe, China and Australia, where the majority of mining companies are based.”

    Elon Musk’s SpaceX is about to play a role in perpetuating this genocide.

    The small island of Biak, off of West Papua’s northern coast, just one degree south of the equator, looks like this today:



    If Elon Musk has his way, it will soon look like this:



    Indonesia would like to convert Biak into a lucrative “Space Island.” In December 2020, Indonesia offered the use of part of the island to SpaceX as a spaceport for launching satellites. SpaceX would like to launch and maintain as many as 42,000 satellites in order to provide high-speed wireless Internet everywhere on earth. This would require almost daily rocket launches forever into the future. Until now, SpaceX has been launching its satellites from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, where the above photograph was taken. The spaceport at Cape Canaveral is surrounded by a wildlife refuge and has already done a lot of environmental damage.

    “This spaceport,” said tribal chief Manfun Sroyer of plans for the island of Biak, “will cost us our traditional hunting grounds, damaging the nature our way of life depends on. But, if we protest, we’ll be arrested immediately.”

    Biak’s location holds several attractions for SpaceX. Its location at the equator is ideal for launching satellites because less fuel is needed for them to reach orbit from there. And the vast reserves of copper and nickel on West Papua would supply some of the materials. Copper and nickel are two of the metals used in building rockets.

    Indonesia has also offered Biak Island to the Russian space agency Roscosmos, which plans to develop its own spaceport on the island by 2024. Russia is planning its own fleet of 640 satellites, also to provide wireless Internet everywhere on earth.

    The environmental effects of mining in West Papua are well-documented. “From the Grasberg mine,” wrote Antonopoulos and Cottle, ”one of the biggest copper and gold mines in the world, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of tailings contaminate the vital Ajkwa delta system every day, destroying the environment which the Kamoro tribe relies upon for food and trade. So devastating to the environment is the Grasberg mine that apart from the 80 million tonnes of waste debris which it dumps into the Ajkwa river system every year, the open cut mine can be seen clearly from space.” What was formerly the top of a glacier-covered mountain is now a mile-wide crater one-third of a mile deep.

    The open cut operations were finally closed in 2020, but the underground mining operations at Grasberg are expanding, and the contamination of rivers, forests, fisheries, and coastal waters, as well as the destruction of tribal communities, continues unabated. A 2012 report from Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada stated that mine waste from Grasberg had “buried over 166 square kilometres of formerly productive forest and wetlands, and fish have largely disappeared.” The poisoned river is no longer a source of drinking water for the area’s villages.

    West Papua’s mines will also be used to build Tesla’s electric vehicles (EVs), if Musk has his way. Nickel and copper are also needed for the long-range batteries used in EVs. Musk told Indonesian officials last July that Tesla would offer a “giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.”

    Musk and the government of Indonesia may come to an agreement as to what “environmentally sensitive” means, but West Papua’s native population may beg to disagree. It still means pulverizing and processing billions of pounds of rock, and depositing all the resulting tailings somewhere. In West Papua somewhere means virgin rainforest, pristine rivers and tribal lands.

    Roads, Electricity and Cell Phones

    In Papua New Guinea, the independent state to the east, most of the vast interior still has no roads or electricity -- or cell towers. And that was still the case only 5 years ago in West Papua too. But in the last few years, all of that infrastructure -- electricity to every village, a modern highway system bulldozed through the wilderness, and widely available cell phone service -- has been built by Indonesia and it has not been for the benefit of the native population, who do not want it and are gunned down or bombed if they protest.

    Journalist David Robie calls the 4,325-kilometer Trans-Papua Highway “West Papua’s highway of blood.” According to John Martinkus, whose moving book, The Road: Uprising in West Papua, was published last May, the highway brings military occupation, more mining and timber cutting by foreign corporations, environmental destruction, and replacement of native villages by settlements of Indonesian immigrants.

    “On December 1, 2018,” writes Robie, “a ceremony marking the declaration of independence from the Dutch in 1961 by raising the Morning Star flag of a free Papua -- as Papuans do every year -- ended in bloodshed.” Every previous year, at least in the remote Nduga region, this ceremony had taken place peacefully and been ignored by Indonesians. But this year, road workers and soldiers came into Nduga on the new highway and took photos and videos of the crowd on their cell phones. The resulting conflict left 19 road workers and a soldier dead. Since then, reprisal raids by the Indonesian military have forced some 50,000 people to flee their villages and become refugees. Two thousand soldiers, helicopters, and 650 commandos are involved in “protecting the highway.”

    “It is the helicopters that are the worst,” writes Martinkus. “They are used as platforms to shoot or drop white phosphorous grenades or bomblets that inflict horrible injuries on the populace.”


    Thomas Klasibin stands in front of what used to be
    the forest that supported him. Photo by James Morgan

    And the spaceport, as Manfun Sroyer said, will perpetuate both the environmental damage and the continuing genocide. Aside from the noise, light, and vibrations accompanying rocket launches, all of the proliferating spaceports around the world are destroying their environment.

    A Falcon 9 rocket -- the rocket SpaceX uses to launch its satellites -- consumes an incredible 3,200 pounds of fuel per second at full thrust. Unlike rockets that burn solid fuels, the Falcon 9 burns kerosene and doesn’t pollute the land and water surrounding the spaceport with heavy metals. But that is assuming the launch is successful. Every time a rocket crash-lands or explodes, the damage is tremendous. When two rockets crash-landed during test launches at a remote spaceport on Alaska’s Kodiak Island, 230 tons of soil were contaminated. And crashes happen regularly at every spaceport. A 2013 study of rocket launch crashes by Russian and Belgian space scientists found that rockets had been crashing, consistently since 1975, between 4% and 10% of the time at every spaceport in the world.

    What is occurring on West Papua is possibly the worst genocide that is going on in the world today, and it is scarcely being reported. But it is not just genocide. It is a collision -- a collision between life and technology, a collision that stares us in the face everywhere we go, and it is not being reported because no one wants to look at it. “The people of West Papua are fighting with their lives every day to defend our forests, mountains and rivers,” says West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda. “We are ground zero in the fight to protect our global natural environment.”

    West Papua is the last place on earth where “primitive” human beings dare to say no to highways and electricity. The Trans-Amazon Highway was completed in 1975. The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan was fully electrified by 2010. The Old Order Amish are using cell phones today. In the year 2021, when humanity is preparing to colonize Mars, there is no place in most people’s conception of reality for the existence of human beings who are part of the natural world. To acknowledge their existence would require us to face the contradiction between life and technology. Between reality and fantasy.

    But the Papuans are there. And they are important."

    Arthur Firstenberg
    Author, The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life
    https://www.chelseagreen.com/product...sible-rainbow/
    Each breath a gift...
    _____________

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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    • SpaceX wins a multi-billion dollar NASA moon lander contract!:
    ~no need2follow anyone only consider to broaden (y)our horizon of possibilities
    ~new: Stop5G.net & FB groups/Stop5G

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Quote Posted by ExomatrixTV (here)
    • SpaceX wins a multi-billion dollar NASA moon lander contract!:
    This is a pretty big deal. As many readers may be aware, humans are already on the Moon and Mars, and have been for quite a while. But the publicly visible space program, with far inferior but workable technology, has to somehow catch up with all that.

    Here's a fairly good article (one of many, easily found), to supplement the video above:
    ~~~

    Why NASA Picked SpaceX to Land Humans on the Moon

    20 April, 2021

    And How the Decision Will Help Humans Land on Mars

    NASA last week announced it selected SpaceX’s Starship to land humans on the Moon as part of the agency’s Artemis program. To develop Starship for the Moon, NASA will pay no more than $2.9 billion to SpaceX over the next few years, money that will be matched and possibly exceeded by funds from SpaceX itself.

    Under the terms of the award, SpaceX will fly Starship to the lunar surface without a crew at least once before transporting astronauts. NASA says there is still a chance that mission could happen in 2024, although the agency is currently conducting a review of the entire Aretmis program.

    Investing in Starship will help NASA return to the Moon, but it will also do something more consequential. Starship is a Mars ship. By choosing Starship for the Moon, NASA is investing in the Starship program itself, providing SpaceX with a cash infusion for the same technology and systems it needs to get to the Red Planet—a true “Moon-to-Mars” strategy if there ever was one.

    This decision is not without risk: NASA previously selected at least two companies to provide commercial cargo and crew services to the International Space Station in order to preserve competition, control cost, and ensure redundancy. By selecting only SpaceX, NASA is putting all its eggs in one basket.

    But SpaceX has previously delivered on its NASA contracts. In the past 20 years they have grown from a small startup to the world’s premier aerospace company, launching cargo and astronauts at a pace commensurate with national space agencies. NASA now places the lives of its astronauts in the hands of SpaceX to reach the ISS, relies on the company to supply the space station, and places its precious scientific missions atop their rockets.

    If Starship succeeds in returning humans to the lunar surface, it will be the ultimate vindication of the public-private partnership model. NASA will gain a lunar lander at a fraction of the cost of the Apollo-era Lunar Module, and SpaceX—a private entity—would gain independent access to the lunar surface, a locale previously the domain of a single nation.

    And in the same fell swoop, both organizations would step toward Mars.


    Starship on the Moon — SpaceX's Starship vehicle sits on the Moon as NASA astronauts explore the surface.

    The Background

    Humans have not traveled beyond Earth orbit since the Apollo program ended in 1972. NASA has officially been trying to change that since 2004, when President George W. Bush announced what became the agency’s back-to-the-Moon Constellation program.

    In 2010, the Obama administration canceled Constellation, but two key pieces of the program survived: the Orion crew capsule and a rocket that became what is now the Space Launch System, or SLS. Both vehicles are being developed using classic “cost-plus” contracting, where NASA pays for the full cost of development, even if costs rise far above initial estimates.

    NASA’s Artemis program will use the SLS to blast astronauts to lunar orbit aboard Orion, where they will meet up with a previously-emplaced lunar lander to travel to the surface and back. Orion in the future will also dock with the Gateway, a small space station in lunar orbit. From there, astronauts can conduct science and transfer to lunar landers.

    Rather than building a lunar lander in-house the way it does with SLS and Orion, NASA opted to pay space companies a fixed price to build their own lunar landers, which the companies will own. NASA in turn can purchase ongoing landing services from these providers. The total cost to NASA is therefore fixed—any cost overruns are shouldered by the companies.

    Conversely, if companies can deliver their landers for less than the cost of the contract, the company retains the difference as a profit. NASA successfully deployed this model to ferry crews and cargo to the ISS.

    Encouraged by a business-friendly White House that pushed for a 2024 Moon landing, NASA expanded its use of public-private partnerships beyond low-Earth orbit, creating new programs for commercial lunar payload deliveries of scientific instrumentation and technology demonstration missions. Last year, the agency funded SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics to develop human-ready Moon lander concepts for Artemis, and proposed to spend nearly $21 billion over the next five years to support multiple human landing vehicles.

    But despite strong White House support, Congress last year provided only $850 million for lunar landers—far below the $3.4 billion NASA requested. Faced with a funding shortfall, NASA delayed its decision to select which companies would receive funding for continued development of their moon landers.

    That is, until last week, when NASA announced they would go all-in on Starship.

    NASA would have probably liked to pick more than one provider for redundancy. But with little funds to go on and the prospect of seeing the Moon landings drag out for many more years, they picked the cheapest—and most likely to succeed—option: SpaceX.


    NASA astronauts ride a commercial rocket — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft lifts off carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on the first crewed commercial flight to the International Space Station on 30 May 2020.

    How to Land Humans on the Moon


    SpaceX’s Starship is designed to be much more than a lunar lander—it’s actually an end-to-end transport system designed to ferry people to Mars. The vehicle launches and lands upright, similar to the way the company’s Falcon 9 boosters return to Earth for reuse. SpaceX has been working on Starship for years, building prototypes and destroying them at a rapid pace as they perfect the vehicle’s ability to land upright.

    But despite Starship’s ability to launch humans directly from Earth to the Moon or Mars, that’s not how NASA will initially use it.

    For Artemis, Starship will blast off without a crew to lunar orbit. NASA astronauts will launch aboard Orion and SLS, and then either directly dock with Starship or transfer to it via the Gateway. A crew will take Starship to the surface, stay for about a week, and then launch back to lunar orbit, where they will transfer back to Orion for return to Earth.

    NASA’s source selection documents showed that Starship was both cheaper and more capable than the landers proposed by Blue Origin and Dynetics. Dynetics brought to the table a history with NASA and the Department of Defense, while Blue Origin’s proposal featured its “National Team” consisting of stalwart contractors Lockheed Martin, Draper Labs, and Northrop Grumman.

    This is not the end of either the National Team or Dynetics lunar lander concepts. The $2.9 billion contract awarded by NASA is for development activities, one uncrewed landing test, and one crewed landing demonstration of Starship. NASA plans to compete a subsequent contract for ongoing lunar surface ferry operations. Anyone can bid on that, so the other teams could continue to self-fund to mature their lunar landing designs in the interim.


    Starship comes in hot — SpaceX's Starship rocket prepares to land following a high-altitude test flight on 3 March 2021. Starship landed in one piece for the first time ever but exploded minutes later. An unexpected flame appeared in the engine section just before touchdown.

    Implications for the Space Launch System


    In theory, if SpaceX’s Starship can land on the Moon, it can ferry humans there as well. There’s no need for the Space Launch System and Orion at all.

    In theory. But NASA’s not ready to say goodbye to those vehicles yet, and with good reason.

    First, the technical side: While SpaceX has shown that it can reliably land the booster stage of its Falcon 9 rocket upright (although one occasionally misses the mark), the spent booster stage doesn’t currently land with a heavy, pressurized crew capsule on top of it.

    Starship, meanwhile, is an order of magnitude larger than the Falcon 9, and is still trying to perfect its landing on Earth. Its booster, the Super Heavy, has yet to fly. NASA is not yet ready to launch its astronauts on such a new system, though that could change over time.

    Additionally, vehicles returning to Earth from the Moon hit the atmosphere at much higher speeds than they do when returning from Earth orbit. NASA’s Orion crew capsule, which uses legacy heat shield technology that dates back to the Apollo program, successfully tested a high-speed reentry during its 2014 test flight. The gargantuan Starship vehicle will belly-flop through the atmosphere, taking a page out of the Space Shuttle’s playbook. Starship has yet to successfully land from Earth orbit, let alone lunar orbit.

    That brings us to the second reason: politics.

    SLS and Orion were written into U.S. law by the Senate in the 2010 NASA Authorization bill and employ tens of thousands of people in every state. Congressional support for the projects has remained strong over the years, even as the projects have delayed their schedules and blown their original budget projections. By merely flirting with non-SLS options for sending humans to the Moon, as former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine did two years ago, the agency incited the wrath of powerful Senators.

    The current plan for Artemis is thus an artful mix of political and technological compromises. Every major NASA contractor participates in the program, as will the agency’s major international partners through the Gateway program. Artemis comprises both classic cost-plus and contracts and new fixed-price contracts for its major components, with jobs distributed around the country. It is the inevitable outcome for a large project that depends on discretionary spending overseen by a representational political system.


    Starship enters Mars' atmosphere — This artist's concept shows SpaceX's Starship vehicle heating up as it enters Mars's atmosphere.

    Moon to Mars


    Despite the current focus on the Moon, NASA’s public relations materials constantly remind us that Mars has not been forgotten. Artemis is a “Moon to Mars” program, though up until this announcement the Mars part of that claim was more ambition than reality.

    The Moon and Mars represent markedly different environments and challenges. The Moon is far closer to Earth, allowing astronauts to stay in what is basically real-time communication with the ground. They can return home in a matter of days if something goes wrong. There are launch opportunities roughly every month.

    Mars offers no such conveniences. Communications are delayed by tens of minutes, requiring significant increases in spacecraft autonomy. Launch windows are limited to once every two years when Earth and Mars are optimally aligned. Landing on Mars, with its thin atmosphere and significant gravitational well, is a far harder problem than landing on the Moon’s airless expanse.

    Nevertheless, the Moon (and more broadly, cislunar space) can be useful for developing and testing the hardware and techniques needed to send humans to Mars. That is, if missions to the Moon are deliberately pursued with Mars in mind—it is all-too-tempting (and cheaper) for engineers to optimize for Moon-only solutions in a tight budgetary environment.

    The addition of Starship to Artemis can spurn this temptation. SpaceX is a new breed of aerospace company: one with ambitions beyond that of serving government needs. As a privately-held company, it is under near-total control by its founder, Elon Musk, who can pursue his agenda as long as it makes money. His agenda happens to be human settlements on Mars.

    Whether this is a feasible (or even desirable) goal is besides the point. SpaceX has a highly-capable workforce. It is well-capitalized. And it is building a Mars ship with Starship, whether or not NASA chips in.

    So by choosing Starship, NASA is gaining a partner with shared long-term goals that is going to Mars regardless of current domestic politics. Both sides benefit. SpaceX will enjoy a significant cash infusion in Starship and will gain access to the lunar surface. NASA saves billions of dollars on a lunar lander while supporting an Mars initiative.

    With Starship, NASA is buying the Moon, but it is investing in Mars.

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: SpaceX Starship SN9, SN10, SN11, SN15 test flights

    Starship SN15 (the next one after SN11, with a zillion improvements) nailed the soft landing last night. The entire space-watching viewership — a large one! — lost their minds.

    Everyday Astronaut Tim Dodd's new co-host, MaryLiz Bender (a very good presenter, btw, and a great addition to that team) was in tears. The Angry Astronaut (another good presenter) couldn't stop shouting on his own modest handheld livestream.

    There are many videos to choose from, but this one shows the emotion: the crowd of SpaceX employees watching with bated breath as the landing clouds settle to reveal the Starship standing proud just after 6:20. The ship coming in through the clouds to land starts at 5:40.


    And a good, clear shot of the soft landing from a different camera.

    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 6th May 2021 at 15:34.

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