Space Stuff and Launch Info

In summary, the SpaceX Dragon launch is upcoming, and it appears to be successful. The article has a lot of good information about the upcoming mission, as well as some interesting observations about the Great Red Spot.
  • #1,296
.Scott said:
By my guesstimate, Starship's remaining development costs are low enough that if the whole thing was sold off, the new owner would find it far more tempting to finish it off than to scrap it.
Well... maybe. Even the Falcon Heavy is needed ~ half decade to ramp up payloads to just a few launch in a year, and I doubt that it could be profitable if it's not built on the Falcon 9.

If not for the new Moon race then I don't think that anybody would pay for the Starship on the market.
It's just too big. Enormous.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #1,297

Virgin Galactic launches VSS Unity space plane on final suborbital spaceflight with crew of 6 (photos, video)​

It was Virgin Galactic's seventh commercial spaceflight mission and the company's second of 2024.
https://www.space.com/virgin-galactic-07-final-vss-unity-commercial-spaceflight
Virgin Galactic launched six people to suborbital space on Saturday (June 8), launching a Turkish astronaut and three space tourists on what was the final voyage of the VSS Unity space plane.

Unity, attached to the belly of its carrier plane Eve, took off from runway at Spaceport America in New Mexico at 10:31 a.m. EDT (1431 GMT) and carried to an altitude of 44,562 feet (13,582 meters) over the next hour, where it was dropped and ignited its rocket engine to carry two pilots and four passengers to space and back. The mission, called Galactic 07, reached an altitude of 54.4 miles (87.5 km) and marked the seventh commercial spaceflight by Virgin Galactic on Unity, which is being retired to make way for the company's new "Delta" class of spacecraft rolling out in 2026.
 
  • Like
Likes mfb
  • #1,298
Well, that was an interesting afternoon. They were running a simulated medical emergency on the ISS via secure/private comms channels, and part of it slipped into the public live feed. Cue nearly an hour of absolute chaos until NASA issued a tweet saying it was a drill that shouldn’t have made it into that channel.

The sheer number of comments on a live stream taking digs at Boeing and Starliner was equally hilarious and depressing. 🙃
 
  • Like
Likes berkeman
  • #1,299
Flyboy said:
They were running a simulated medical emergency on the ISS via secure/private comms channels, and part of it slipped into the public live feed.
In my neck of the woods, when we run emergency drills, we're required to repeat "This is a drill" in our comms. That's because our comms are generally open to anybody who has a compatible receiver, and we don't want folks tuning in during the middle of the drill and hearing the stuff we are transmitting and thinking it is real. I think even if I were transmitting on an encrypted channel, I'd still do that out of habit...
 
  • Like
Likes mfb and Flyboy
  • #1,300
A sensible precaution. What allowed this one to spiral out of control so quickly was the fact that they promptly went comms dark afterwards for an hour. I personally would have immediately jumped on the public feed to announce the fact that it was a drill as soon as it was noticed instead of relying on a post on Twitter (I refuse to use the new name, thank you very much) to announce it.
 
  • #1,301
The return of Starliner has been moved to no earlier than June 26.
NASA and Boeing are still analyzing the helium leaks. They are in the service module that will burn up on reentry.
Edit: Further delayed to "to be determined". The capsule is only designed for up to 45 days docked to the space station, which means it has to undock and land before July 21 or things are getting really problematic.

Rocket Lab has launched its 50th Electron. It was the fastest commercial rocket to reach that milestone, beating Falcon 9 by a few months in what looks like a similar trajectory.

Chang'e 6 has picked up samples from the far side of the Moon earlier this month and the return capsule is expected to land back on Earth June 25.
 
Last edited:
  • Informative
Likes pinball1970
  • #1,302
You guys catch this over the weekend?

A France China collaboration looking for early GRB.

https://phys.org/news/2024-06-china-france-satellite-universe.html#google_vignette

From the article.

“The rays carry traces of the gas clouds and galaxies they pass through on their journey through space—valuable data for better understanding the history and evolution of the universe.”

1719227778247.png
 
  • #1,303
pinball1970 said:
You guys catch this over the weekend?

A France China collaboration looking for early GRB.

https://phys.org/news/2024-06-china-france-satellite-universe.html#google_vignette

From the article.

“The rays carry traces of the gas clouds and galaxies they pass through on their journey through space—valuable data for better understanding the history and evolution of the universe.”

View attachment 347343
https://nz.news.yahoo.com/suspected-chinese-rocket-debris-seen-094454719.html
1719236045449.png

Markus Schiller, a rocket expert and associate senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said the debris appeared to be the first-stage booster of the Long March 2C rocket, which uses a liquid propellant consisting of nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH).

“This combination always creates these orange smoke trails. It’s extremely toxic and carcinogenic,” Schiller said. “Every living being that inhales that stuff will have a hard time in the near future,” he added.
 
  • Wow
Likes berkeman and pinball1970
  • #1,304
Ahhhh, yes, the Long Range BFRC Dispenser. 😆

Hydrazine, which is colorless but has something of a fish smell from what I’ve been told, will kill you on the spot.

The Dinitrogen Tetroxide is the brownish red plume and is able to break down into two nitrogen dioxide, which is the brown component of classic smog. It’s also nasty as it will attack your lungs, and if you get a good lungful of the stuff it’ll kill you in your sleep from your lungs filling with fluid.

Either way, fun stuff. 🙃
 
  • #1,305
Flyboy said:
Ahhhh, yes, the Long Range BFRC Dispenser. 😆

Hydrazine, which is colorless but has something of a fish smell from what I’ve been told, will kill you on the spot.

The Dinitrogen Tetroxide is the brownish red plume and is able to break down into two nitrogen dioxide, which is the brown component of classic smog. It’s also nasty as it will attack your lungs, and if you get a good lungful of the stuff it’ll kill you in your sleep from your lungs filling with fluid.

Either way, fun stuff. 🙃
I would not have posted it if I had seen Nsaspook's information first.
It is on now, so at there is some info on dangerous rocket propellants and launch location strategies in the East and West.
 
  • #1,306
Basically, if the launch photos from China have mountains in the background, you’re guaranteed to hear about the booster(s) crashing back down somewhere near a village. The location was chosen for security and logistics purposes, not downrange safety.
 
  • #1,307
Flyboy said:
Basically, if the launch photos from China have mountains in the background, you’re guaranteed to hear about the booster(s) crashing back down somewhere near a village. The location was chosen for security and logistics purposes, not downrange safety.

+1
I hope the local folk are all OK (including the cleanup crews) from this latest incident of many in the past.

Falling from the Sky (Zhang Zanbo, 2009)
 
  • Wow
Likes Arjan82
  • #1,308
Boeing Starliner astronauts stuck on ISS with no return date so far
https://news.yahoo.com/news/boeing-starliner-astronauts-stuck-iss-010014870.html

Two astronauts who piloted Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station earlier this month remain aboard the floating research hub with no firm return date to Earth, as NASA and Boeing seek to analyze mechanical issues and clear a schedule for the craft’s return voyage.

“We are taking our time and following our standard mission management team process,” Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said in a statement. “We are letting the data drive our decision-making relative to managing the small helium system leaks and thruster performance we observed during rendezvous and docking.”

The Starliner arrived at the ISS on June 6, and the two crew members, Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore were originally scheduled to remain at the space station for a week.

The astronauts won’t return at least through July 2, after a planned ISS spacewalk.

It’s a considerable adjustment from the original Starliner mission plan, which was intended as a showcase launch as Boeing seeks to compete with SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which has been NASA’s only vehicle ferrying astronauts to the ISS since 2020.
 
  • Sad
Likes Rive
  • #1,309
They are not stuck. Starliner could return the astronauts tomorrow, but there is no rush. It can safely stay at the ISS for another month. Time that can be used to further study the leaks, which reduces the risk for this mission and helps avoiding the problem in future missions. If you undock and discard the service module then it's gone.

China made a 10 km hop with a reusable rocket stage. The next flight is planned to reach 70 km where you get into the interesting velocity range of a reentry.

GOES-U goes up (in 9 hours). It's a weather satellite for NASA, to be launched on a Falcon Heavy. A 5 tonne satellite that will be launched directly to geostationary orbit is pretty unusual.

Sunday evening, California and nearby places had a nice space jellyfish from a Falcon 9 launch.
 
  • Informative
Likes pinball1970
  • #1,310

NASA confirms space debris in North Carolina was from SpaceX Crew Dragon reentry​

https://www.yahoo.com/news/nasa-confirms-space-debris-north-130015327.html

NASA has confirmed that pieces of debris found throughout the mountains of North Carolina are the remnants of SpaceX Crew Dragon hardware that reentered the atmosphere in May 2024.

The largest piece of debris was found along a walking trail of a mountaintop resort on May 22; it was about the size of a standard car hood and covered in a carbon fiber weave. In the weeks following that discovery, several smaller pieces were found in residents' yards throughout the region as well. A map posted to X by astronomer Jonathan McDowell that plotted the reentry of the SpaceX Crew-7 mission's "trunk," or service module, suggested this particular Crew Dragon hardware was likely responsible for the mess. However, it wasn't until June 20, 2024 that NASA confirmed the debris indeed came from a Crew Dragon spacecraft.
 
  • Like
Likes pinball1970
  • #1,311
 
  • Love
Likes Borg
  • #1,312
As mundane as recovery is becoming, there’s something about the Heavy boosters returning to shore that is just… it never gets old.
 
  • Like
Likes nsaspook
  • #1,314
mfb said:
India plans a first uncrewed launch of its Gaganyaan crew vehicle in July, but no date yet.
Good for them! I hope it goes well. That would make them the third country to develop an entirely indigenous crew launch capability. No offense to China, but it’s derived heavily from Soyuz, albeit with some much needed updates.
 
  • #1,315
More Starliner
Starliner CFT: NASA and Boeing have decided to carry out ground tests of a new thruster to mimic the same flight profile that was carried out in orbit when 5 aft-facing thrusters did not operate within pre-set limits specified in the spacecraft's flight control software during the approach to ISS; 4 of the 5 were later successfully test fired in space after the docking; test firings of the ground unit at White Sands, NM, are expected to begin next week
This is a pretty hurried test and it looks like Boeing and NASA will wait for the results.
They are looking into extending the lifetime from 45 days to 90 days.
 
  • #1,316
Space Pioneer, a Chinese start-up, wanted to do a static fire test of their rocket in preparation for the first flight of Tianlong-3. The rocket is about the size of Falcon 9 and is designed with a reusable first stage.

It was ... not as static as planned.
Video
Other view
 
  • Haha
  • Wow
Likes nsaspook, Rive and Borg
  • #1,317
Oops. Did they forget to tell the hold-down guy that he should not push that button on this test? Also looks like the self-destruct guy was on a coffee break...
 
  • Like
Likes nsaspook
  • #1,318
berkeman said:
looks like the self-destruct guy was on a coffee break...
Do they even have the explosives installed for a static fire test?
I would not bother with the steering either...

TBH it's a nice straight ascend for something non-planned :wink:
 
  • Like
Likes nsaspook
  • #1,319
That was embarrassing.
 
  • #1,320
24 hours 45 minutes until the maiden flight of Ariane 6. Live coverage will be here

It will be the first European orbital launch this year.
* Ariane 5 was retired before Ariane 6 was ready. This helped reusing facilities but it produced a gap in the launcher availability.
* Vega struggles with reliability recently.
* European Soyuz is no longer a thing after the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
* The European start-ups haven't launched yet. Rocket Factory Augsburg wants to launch this summer, but no date yet.
 
  • Like
Likes pinball1970
  • #1,321
A mostly successful launch of Ariane 6. It reached its nominal orbit and deployed various cubesats. A maneuver two hours after launch didn't work as expected, leaving two reentry test capsules in a wrong (non-reentering) orbit.
 
  • Informative
Likes pinball1970
  • #1,322
Something unexpected happened on the most recent Falcon 9 launch. A lot of ice (?) built up on the second stage during flight. It still reached its nominal temporary orbit, but when trying to raise the orbit later the engine was destroyed. The rocket was able to deploy the Starlink satellites but they are now in an orbit with an unusually low perigee, it's not clear if they can raise their orbit quick enough to escape from there.

SpaceX has a very busy launch schedule - they'll need to understand this as quickly as possible to avoid shifting too many launches. Two crewed flights were expected for August, they might need to move.

Falcon 9 Block 5 has made 298 flights, this is the first that didn't reach the correct orbit.
 
  • Wow
  • Informative
Likes pinball1970, Filip Larsen and Tom.G
  • #1,323
Huh. That’s definitely a problem, as the upper stage engine has been relatively bulletproof for the entire life of the design. I hope it’s not indicative of an issue in manufacturing, since they’re cranking those engines and stages out at a phenomenal rate these days. If they’re going to have an issue with complacency, this would be the place for it, imo.

Then again, could be a one-off failure. After all, this is the first upper stage engine failure in how many launches? Could just be Murphy taking his due. 😆
 
  • #1,324
It's the first upper stage problem in 345 flights.

* Flight 4 had one booster engine fail. The rocket deployed its primary payload to the correct orbit and still had enough propellant to change its orbit for a secondary payload, but the margins were smaller than required by NASA for ISS safety.
* Flight 19 had the second stage break up during launch. Still the only time Falcon 9 launched and didn't reach orbit.
* The rocket that would have made flight 29 with Amos-6 exploded in a static fire test.
* 334 flawless missions (including 10 flown by Falcon Heavy)
* And now this flight, the 354th of Falcon 9.

Update by SpaceX
A liquid oxygen leak. The failure was gentle enough to deploy the satellites, but with their extremely low orbit they are unlikely to win against drag.

The FAA requires an accident investigation. It's not clear how long that will take. SpaceX will push for a separate and faster conclusion that there is no risk for the public (to launch again) and a full accident investigation that can take more time.
 
  • #1,325
Not launch info but definitely space stuff:
Caves on the moon
Scientists have for the first time discovered a cave on the Moon.

At least 100m deep, it could be an ideal place for humans to build a permanent base

The cave has a skylight on the Moon’s surface, leading down to vertical and overhanging walls, and a sloping floor that might extend further underground.

It was made millions or billions of years ago when lava flowed on the Moon, creating a tunnel through the rock.
MoonCave.JPG
 
  • Like
  • Informative
Likes phinds, Flyboy and Filip Larsen
  • #1,326
Looks like all the Starlink satellites from the most recent launch have reentered. The perigee was just too low.
mfb said:
SpaceX will push for a separate and faster conclusion that there is no risk for the public (to launch again) and a full accident investigation that can take more time.
As expected: SpaceX requests public safety determination for early return to flight for its Falcon 9 rocket
Filed on July 15, just four days after the accident. And SpaceX wants to move very fast:
If the FAA agrees with SpaceX’s determination, the Falcon 9 could resuming launching. The company has tentative plans to launch both the Starlink 10-4 and Starlink 10-9 missions from its two launchpads in Florida later this week. This would be pending the approval of the FAA, of course.

Edit: Source selection statement for the ISS deorbit vehicle. NASA received two offers, from Northrop Grumman and from SpaceX. SpaceX won easily, with a better proposal, a better past performance and a significantly lower price.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes Filip Larsen and Flyboy
  • #1,327
NASA has awarded SpaceX $266,678 for a "Special Study for Emergency Response" (click on "view"). That is not money where actual hardware would be developed. It's likely some paperwork where SpaceX will determine how quickly it could launch a Crew Dragon if needed, or how expensive it would be to provide this as an ongoing service (e.g. launch within 1 week whenever needed) in the future.

It's not difficult to see what motivated NASA to request this study.
 
  • Like
Likes Flyboy
  • #1,328
NASA and SpaceX have revealed more details about the ISS deorbiting vehicle.
Press conference, rendering, news article

It's based on Dragon, but with a much larger and heavier trunk. ~30 tonnes overall, so it's too heavy for a Falcon 9. No launch vehicle selected yet - it will be operated by NASA so we might see it launch elsewhere. SpaceX will certainly propose FH (or maybe Starship) for it, although New Glenn could launch this as well.

The ISS will stop orbit raising maneuvers and lower its altitude passively to 220 km, where the last crew departs. From that point on the deorbit needs to be active to control the reentry area.
 
  • #1,329
mfb said:
Why does it have solar panels in that rendering? Seems like it should be able to draw what little power it needs from its docking connection, no?

1721311085659.png
 
  • #1,330
Couple reasons...

1. They may disable the solar panel sun tracking on the station when the last crew leaves to make the drag profile of the station more predictable. That would significantly impact generating capacity.
2. The deorbit vehicle may take some time to complete the rendezvous, docking, and deorbit process and they want to be sure of a reliable power supply.
3. They might outright disable most of the power grid on the station as they leave for safety. Preserve what power they have for orientation control and such.
 
  • Informative
Likes berkeman

Similar threads

Replies
30
Views
8K
  • Aerospace Engineering
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
7
Views
2K
Replies
32
Views
4K
  • Aerospace Engineering
Replies
7
Views
3K
  • Aerospace Engineering
Replies
4
Views
3K
  • Aerospace Engineering
Replies
5
Views
8K
  • Other Physics Topics
Replies
18
Views
2K
  • Aerospace Engineering
2
Replies
35
Views
4K
  • Aerospace Engineering
Replies
2
Views
7K
Back
Top