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  [Discuss] SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy (Page 12)

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy
Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-26-2024 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) statement
The FAA has closed the SpaceX-led mishap investigation of the Starship Super Heavy Orbital Test Flight 2 (OTF-2) launch that occurred on Nov. 18, 2023.

SpaceX identified, and the FAA accepts, the root causes and 17 corrective actions documented in SpaceX's mishap report.

Seven corrective actions were identified for the Super Heavy Booster including vehicle hardware redesigns, updated control system modelling, reevaluation of engine analyses based on OTF-2 flight data, and updated engine control algorithms. Ten corrective actions were identified for the Starship vehicle including vehicle hardware redesigns, operational changes, flammability analysis updates, installation of additional fire protection, and guidance and modelling updates.

The closure of the mishap investigation does not signal an immediate authorization of the next Starship launch.

Prior to the next launch, SpaceX must implement all corrective actions and receive a license modification from the FAA that addresses all safety, environmental and other applicable regulatory requirements. The FAA is evaluating SpaceX's license modification request and expects SpaceX to submit additional required information before a final determination can be made.

From a SpaceX release:

The most likely root cause for the booster RUD was determined to be filter blockage where liquid oxygen is supplied to the engines, leading to a loss of inlet pressure in engine oxidizer turbopumps that eventually resulted in one engine failing in a way that resulted in loss of the vehicle. SpaceX has since implemented hardware changes inside future booster oxidizer tanks to improve propellant filtration capabilities and refined operations to increase reliability.

At vehicle separation, Starship's upper stage successfully lit all six Raptor engines and flew a normal ascent until approximately seven minutes into the flight, when a planned vent of excess liquid oxygen propellant began. Additional propellant had been loaded on the spacecraft before launch in order to gather data representative of future payload deploy missions and needed to be disposed of prior to reentry to meet required propellant mass targets at splashdown.

A leak in the aft section of the spacecraft that developed when the liquid oxygen vent was initiated resulted in a combustion event and subsequent fires that led to a loss of communication between the spacecraft's flight computers. This resulted in a commanded shut down of all six engines prior to completion of the ascent burn, followed by the Autonomous Flight Safety System detecting a mission rule violation and activating the flight termination system, leading to vehicle breakup. The flight test's conclusion came when the spacecraft was as at an altitude of ~150 km and a velocity of ~24,000 km/h, becoming the first Starship to reach outer space.

SpaceX has implemented hardware changes on upcoming Starship vehicles to improve leak reduction, fire protection, and refined operations associated with the propellant vent to increase reliability. The previously planned move from a hydraulic steering system for the vehicle's Raptor engines to an entirely electric system also removes potential sources of flammability.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-04-2024 11:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX update (via X):
Starship completed its rehearsal for launch, loading more than 10 million pounds of propellant on Starship and Super Heavy and taking the flight-like countdown to T-10 seconds.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-06-2024 12:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The third flight test of Starship could launch as soon as March 14, pending regulatory approval.

A live webcast of the flight test will begin about 30 minutes before liftoff, which you can watch here and on X @SpaceX.

Headshot
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posted 03-06-2024 01:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Coast phase, splashdown in the Indian Ocean? So, unless I am missing something, for this test flight Starship won't make it into orbit? Is this correct?

Jim Behling
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posted 03-06-2024 04:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It will be orbital, just won't complete an orbit.

SkyMan1958
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posted 03-06-2024 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Landing in the Indian Ocean? Not to be a nervous Nellie, but I would think that would allow China to try to recover the Starship and do some hands on reverse engineering.

NukeGuy
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posted 03-07-2024 10:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NukeGuy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does China even have a vessel capable of recovering such a large object from the ocean and could it even get it in position before it sinks? They certainly don’t have anything like the Glomar Explorer.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-07-2024 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
China is a party to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which prohibits interfering with another country's rocket or spacecraft, regardless of where it might be or its status at the time.

China has cited the treaty as a means of protecting its own space equipment and has never given any indication or intent of violating its terms.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2024 07:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA):
The FAA has given license authorization for the third launch of the SpaceX Starship Super Heavy vehicle. The FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy and financial responsibility requirements.
Update: The above info was incorrect. The FAA license was issued on March 13.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-12-2024 09:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX update (via X):
Starship stacked for flight.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-13-2024 03:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX is targeting Thursday, March 14 for the third integrated flight test of Starship from Starbase in Cameron County, Texas. The 110-minute test window opens at 7:00 a.m. CDT (1200 GMT).

SpaceX's live webcast will go live approximately 30 minutes before liftoff here. Live updates will also be available on X (@SpaceX).

Headshot
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posted 03-13-2024 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are the wind limits for launching a Starliner/Super Heavy combo public knowledge? If so, what are they?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-13-2024 06:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX has not released details as to wind limits or other weather conditions that would prevent a launch.

Blackarrow
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posted 03-13-2024 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The FAA has given license authorization for the third launch of the SpaceX Starship Super Heavy vehicle.
I've been puzzled by multiple videos on Youtube in the last two days saying "No FAA licence yet" and then today: "FAA finally grants licence." Was there some additional licence required? I don't understand why so many people didn't know what cS members have known since 8th March.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-13-2024 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looking into it, it appears the earlier update was from a fake FAA X account (now suspended) that got retweeted and quoted by others in the space media. As I saw it from usually reliable sources, I didn't give it a second look.

So the reports you saw were correct — the license was issued today, not on March 8 as I incorrectly posted.

Blackarrow
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posted 03-13-2024 08:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This tends to support my long-held view that social media would be a good idea... but only if human beings were all honest and decent.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 06:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX update
Weather is 70% favorable for today's third integrated flight test of Starship.

The live webcast will begin about 30 minutes before liftoff, which is currently targeted for 7:30 a.m. CT.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 06:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX update
New liftoff time is 8:02 a.m. CDT, team is clearing a few boats from the keep out area in the Gulf of Mexico.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 07:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX update
Shifting T-0 a few more minutes to give boats time to clear the keep out area, now targeting 8:10 a.m. CT.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 07:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX update
The Starship team is go for prop load but keeping an eye on winds, now targeting 8:25 a.m. CT for liftoff.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 07:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX update
Propellant load of Starship's upper stage is now underway.

Prop load of the Super Heavy booster is underway.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 08:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Behling:
It will be orbital, just won't complete an orbit.
The test will follow a suborbital trajectory.
If we get past a successful stage separation and a full ascent burn with the upper stage, it will be at an altitude and trajectory below orbital — meaning Starship won't have to fire its Raptor engines for a deorbit burn and it will naturally come back into the atmosphere no matter what.
Part of today's test includes relighting a raptor engine, but it is only a simulation of a deorbit burn.
It's important to note that what we'll attempt today is not a burn required for Starship to reenter on today's test. We are intentionally flying this new steeper trajectory so we can test things like engine re-light without substantially changing where we expect to splashdown.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 08:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX update
Starship has cleared the pad! Vehicle is on a nominal flight path.

Starship’s Raptor engines have ignited during hot-staging separation. Super Heavy is executing the flip maneuver.

Super Heavy boostback burn complete.

Starship's Raptor engine burn is complete and Starship has entered a coast phase.

Super Heavy was lost before making a soft water landing.
We did see what looked like a nominal boost back burn. And then we did make it all the way to the landing burn this time, but didn't light all the engines that we expected and we did lose the booster. We'll have to go through the data to figure out exactly what happened.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 09:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX update
Propellant transfer demo complete.

Pez [payload bay] door checkout complete, door closing, and HD views are over.

The planned demonstration of a Raptor re-light has apparently been canceled.
It does sound like we are skipping past the on orbit relight demo this time. Again, we'll confirm all of this through our post-flight data review, but it did sound like we did pass through that. So now we're going to start setting up for reentry.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 09:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX update
Starship re-entering Earth's atmosphere. Views through the plasma.
Starship may have been lost during its reentry.
We are hearing through some of the telemetry that it does look like we lost Starlink and our TDRS data flows at the exact same time. If both of those signals are cutting out at the exact same time, that could mean we lost the ship.

It has been several minutes since we've gotten any data from Starship. We are waiting just a couple more minutes just to see if we can get any additional confirmation but that is one data point that we're tracking and that could indicate that we had a loss or a breakup of the ship during the reentry. So we might not make it all the way to splashdown today.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Starship 28 did not survive reentry.
We are making the call now that we have lost ship 28. So, as we were possibly expecting, we lost the data a couple of minutes ago, we haven't heard from the ship up until this point and so the team has made the call that ship has been lost. So no splashdown today.

Blackarrow
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posted 03-14-2024 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One point that does not need any post-flight analysis: by reaching orbit, Starship has surpassed the Saturn V and the SLS and is now the most powerful launch vehicle to place a payload in orbit. Well done, SpaceX!

Axman
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posted 03-14-2024 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Axman   Click Here to Email Axman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The shock diamonds in the rocket exhaust at ascent were spectacular. Looked much cleaner than a Saturn V.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 09:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
...by reaching orbit
Starship did not reach orbit. It was on a suborbital trajectory the entire flight.

Axman
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posted 03-14-2024 10:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Axman   Click Here to Email Axman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The fact it was on a suborbital trajectory does not gainsay it achieved orbital velocity and capability.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 10:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The point was it didn't place a "payload in orbit."

SpaceX wanted to test relighting its Raptor engine in space before entering orbit to ensure it could safely bring the vehicle back to Earth.

Axman
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posted 03-14-2024 11:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Axman   Click Here to Email Axman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree. It did not place a payload into orbit. But it demonstrated sufficient capability to do so.

To refine the point, the Saturn V S-1C didn't place a single payload into orbit, but it launched and sustained the upper stages of the Saturn V, whereby the S-IV stage did place payloads into orbit. Unlike the Soviet N-1 superlifter, which failed to deliver any kind of payload into either a suborbital trajectory or an orbit.

Therefore, by reason, this launch, as Geoffrey suggests, is the most powerful launcher ever to accomplish successful liftoff.

Headshot
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posted 03-14-2024 01:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Will the loss of Starship trigger a FAA investigation? I am guessing that the loss of the Super Heavy booster will not.

SkyMan1958
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posted 03-14-2024 02:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When SpaceX talks about Super Heavy/Starship carrying 100 tons to orbit, is that in addition to the mass of Starship?

Blackarrow
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posted 03-14-2024 06:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Starship did not reach orbit. It was on a suborbital trajectory the entire flight.
Pardon me for taking the SpaceX commentary at face value when they referred to "orbital insertion", later "nominal orbital insertion" and then "all six engines on the ship propelling us into orbit." I must have missed the later comment (during the stunning re-entry views) "...we were on a nearly-orbital trajectory."

I concede that Starship was deliberately kept slightly below orbital velocity, but the Starship system was clearly capable of placing its payload in orbit, and the fact that SpaceX deliberately chose not to do it on this occasion is a bit like a marathon runner deliberately stopping ten yards short of the finish.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2024 06:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SkyMan1958:
...is that in addition to the mass of Starship?
I believe it is the mass of the payload alone. The payload capacity increases to 250 metric tonnes when the vehicle is expendable (i.e. less propellant).
quote:
Originally posted by Headshot:
Will the loss of Starship trigger a FAA investigation?
From the (verified, official) FAA website:
A mishap occurred during the SpaceX Starship OFT-3 mission that launched from Boca Chica, Texas, on March 14. The mishap involved both the Super Heavy booster and the Starship vehicle.

No public injuries or public property damage have been reported. The FAA is overseeing the SpaceX-led mishap investigation to ensure the company complies with its FAA-approved mishap investigation plan and other regulatory requirements.

Background

A mishap investigation is designed to further enhance public safety, determine the root cause of the event, and identify corrective actions to avoid it from happening again.

The FAA will be involved in every step of the mishap investigation process and must approve SpaceX's final report, including any corrective actions.

A return to flight is based on the FAA determining that any system, process, or procedure related to the mishap does not affect public safety. In addition, SpaceX may need to modify its license to incorporate any corrective actions and meet all other licensing requirements.

Gilbert
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posted 03-14-2024 08:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was a spectacular launch!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-15-2024 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
I concede that Starship was deliberately kept slightly below orbital velocity...
I agree the Starship is capable of reaching and entering orbit (I don't think that was ever in debate) but that on Flight 3, it was decidedly sub-orbit.

From space launch statistician Jonathan McDowell (via X):

Let's talk about "orbital velocity."

Wait no, let's talk about "orbital energy" instead.

The sum of kinetic energy (related to velocity) and potential energy (related to height) is really more relevant to the question of 'are you in orbit?'. So...

Here is the plot of E_t, the specific energy (energy per unit mass) of the trajectory, versus apogee height, for: (1) circular orbit, (2) orbit with perigee just above the atmosphere, (3) orbit with perigee at the Earth's surface (bad idea). (2, 3 on top of each other at this scale.)

E_t = 62.5, or (on the right hand axis) C3 = 0, corresponds to Earth escape.

Here's a zoom in to low orbits. A recent flight of interest is plotted with a cross. To be considered 'orbital,' you for sure need to be above the red line, really above the green line, and it would be nice to be at the blue line.

Blackarrow
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posted 03-15-2024 08:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A bit too technical for me. Here's a simpler way to put it: I don't do kilometres per hour (and I didn't think most Americans do kilometres per hour either) so I didn't question the SpaceX commentary about "orbital insertion" because "26,486 kph" on the display didn't mean anything to me. If they had displayed "16,457 mph" I would immediately have realised they hadn't reached "orbital velocity."

NukeGuy
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posted 03-15-2024 08:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NukeGuy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good thing it was suborbital as it did not look like they had good attitude control and may not have been able to relight the engine to put it down in a controlled manner.

Which I suppose is why it was only suborbital.


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