Ship 20 completes milestone RVac Static Fire – Musk cites ambitious path to launch

Ship 20 completed another milestone with two Static Fire tests on Thursday evening. Following a… The post Ship 20 completes milestone RVac Static Fire – Musk cites ambitious path to launch appeared first on NASASpaceFlight.com.

Ship 20 completes milestone RVac Static Fire – Musk cites ambitious path to launch

Ship 20 completed another milestone with two Static Fire tests on Thursday evening. Following a preburner test earlier in the week, the RVac engine fired up for the first time on a Starship. Then, it fired up again, this time accompanied by a sea-level Raptor ignition, later in the evening.

Meanwhile, another milestone was achieved at the Orbital Launch Site (OLS), with the raise and installation of the Mechazilla stack and catch system – as SpaceX presses down on the accelerator again for what Elon Musk is claiming as vehicle readiness for the orbital velocity attempt in November.

Ship 20 and Booster 4:

Ship 20 has been the main focus of attention, following the expected ground testing path of ensuring the Ship was ready for its big day ahead of the Super Heavy booster.

With relatively minor Thermal Protection System (TPS) liberations suffered during testing thus far – with proof testing, a cryo cycle with the Raptor Vaccum (RVac) engine preburner test, and Thursday’s double Static Fire event – the data gathered will provide modeling for what can be expected from the conditions and vibrations pre-launch.

However, the TPS’s performance during flight and re-entry will be a key aspect of the test flight objectives.

The most significant milestone of the week’s testing on Ship 20 was the first ignition of  RVac at Starbase. Before Thursday night’s firing, RVacs had only ever ignited on the test stands at SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor.

With one RVac and one sea-level Raptor installed into the aft of Ship 20, the RVac fired up after a notably smooth countdown, followed by an aborted attempt shortly afterward, which was then followed by both the RVac and the sea-level Raptor firing up to conclude the evening’s events.

It is currently unknown what additional testing will be conducted on Ship 20, with the option to add engines ahead of static fire tests.

Ship 20’s complete engine configuration calls for three sea-level Raptors and three RVacs.  The set – subject to swap-outs – involves RC69, RC73, and RC78, with RC standing for Raptor Center. In addition, RV4, RV5, and RV6 are the RVacs assigned to Ship 20.

Booster 4 will also require its own ground testing campaign, with activity currently involving the aforementioned swap-outs of its Raptor engines.

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  • The Super Heavy will require proof testing ahead of an unspecified number of Static Fire tests, likely surpassing the current record of three Raptors firing simultaneously, and by some margin.

    With 29 engines lighting at launch – eventually evolving to 33 – SpaceX will have options to fire up subsets of engines during initial testing but will eventually fire all 29 at the same time either before or on launch day itself.

    If Starbase works to Elon Musk’s latest schedule, these tests will come in short order, following his claim of vehicle readiness for the test flight. “If all goes well, Starship will be ready for its first orbital launch attempt next month, pending regulatory approval,” Musk noted on Twitter on Friday.

    The FAA approval process could have been the target audience for such a statement, with the agency recently taking public comments as part of its review. Musk has previously provided highly ambitious timelines for launch readiness, with the FAA approval process being the primary constraint.

    OLS:

    The Orbital Launch Site (OLS) is making great strides ahead of both Booster 4 testing and future goals.

    With additional rollouts down Highway 4, the OLS now has two sizeable liquid methane tanks stored next to the Tank Farm, which itself has seen the final cryo shell installed over the large vertical tanks.

    The OLS Tank Farm has often been seen venting as engineers begin to conduct readiness for the immense task of providing propellants to quench the thirst of the world’s largest launch vehicle.

    However, Mechazilla’s assembly and installation on the Launch Tower caught the attention of most regular Starship followers, as another of Elon Musk’s fascinating ideas officially became part of the OLS Ground Support Equipment (GSE).

    This week saw the two chopstick arms pinned onto the carriage ahead of the entire device being raised to the “skate” installation points on the Tower.

    Mechazilla – as named by Musk – will provide several services to the Starship Program, starting with the ability to raise and stack the booster onto the Launch Mount, before then stacking Starship atop the booster. Along with the Quick Disconnect (QD) arm, it will also provide stability to the stack when on the mount.

    Eventually, and by far its star role, Mechazilla will catch the Booster and Ship when they return to the launch site post-mission. This first attempt will not occur during the upcoming test flight, with both vehicles set to splashdown at the conclusion of their mission.

    However, Elon Musk did cite such a catch attempt could occur during Booster 5’s return.

    Booster 5/Ship 21:

    In the tradition of Starbase production cadence, both of these follow-on vehicles are now undergoing stacking operations.

    Booster 5’s Grid Fins have since been installed in the High Bay, with the completion of stacking operations set to be concluded in the coming days.

    Ship 21, with its sections covered in TPS tiles, is currently being stacked inside the Mid Bay. Currently, its Mid-LOX section and Common Dome have been mated. It will eventually head to the High Bay for its nosecone installation.

    With parts and sections for future Ships and Boosters in various locations around Starbase’s Production Facility, the cadence will eventually cause a bottleneck for stacking operations. However, this was foreseen by SpaceX, resulting in the approval to build a new High Bay.

    Slightly higher and much wider than the current High Bay, the new facility has had its foundations laid, along with the fabrication of significant elements.  The new bay started to rise out of the ground Friday.

    Photos and videos provided by Nic Ansuini (@nicansuini) and Mary (@bocachicagal). Additional information and article assistance provided by the NSF (L2 Level) Discord.

    For live updates, follow NASASpaceFlight’s Twitter account and the NSF Starship Forum Sections.

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    The post Ship 20 completes milestone RVac Static Fire – Musk cites ambitious path to launch appeared first on NASASpaceFlight.com.

    Source : NASA More   

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    Progress MS-17 completes 24 hour long relocation at Space Station

    Progress MS-17 has successfully relocated its docking position to the station’s newest module, MLM Nauka.… The post Progress MS-17 completes 24 hour long relocation at Space Station appeared first on NASASpaceFlight.com.

    Progress MS-17 completes 24 hour long relocation at Space Station

    Progress MS-17 has successfully relocated its docking position to the station’s newest module, MLM Nauka.

    Relocation began at 23:42 UTC (7:42 PM EDT) on Wednesday when the Russian resupply spacecraft autonomously undocked from the Russian Poisk module and backed away from the station to a distance of approximately 180-190 kilometers. Progress perform station-keeping maneuvers in order to remain in the correct proximity to the space station and hold position for over 24 hours.

    The spacecraft approached the Nauka multipurpose laboratory, which became a new addition to the station in July, for docking at 04:21 UTC (12:21 AM EDT) on Friday.

    The Progress spacecraft now occupies the nadir port, one of two on the Nauka module.

    Russian cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov were responsible for overseeing the relocation. However, the entire process was automatically controlled by Progress. Both cosmonauts have been trained to take over the redocking operation had an issue arise, but nominally, Kurs automated docking system performed without issue.

    Progress MS-17 lifts off aboard Soyuz 2.1a in June – via NASA

    Having been at the space station since July 2, Progress MS-17 will remain docked to the station until its permanent departure in late November. As with all Progress spacecraft, after their cargo has been used and their purpose no longer needed, the crew aboard the station will load the vehicle with spent and unwanted supplies which, once de-orbited, will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere along with the entire spacecraft itself.

    Unlike the crewed Soyuz, Progress is designed to be a disposable resupply craft.

    Significantly, Progress MS-17 will undock from Nauka with its HDA-to-SSVP (Hybrid Drogue Adapter to Probe and Drogue) docking adapter ring. Currently, the nadir port’s adapter is compatible with both Soyuz and Progress vehicles. However, the port will no longer service these vehicles, and instead will be the attachment point for Russia’s Prichal module.

    By Progress removing the HDA-to-SSVP ring, it will revert the docking infrastructure to HDA, an adapter that gives a wider passageway and is thus particularly useful for permanent modules. Nauka was not launched in HDA configuration in the event that Prichal did not make it to the space station, which would render the sought-after port inaccessible for Soyuz and Progress vehicles.

    Image

    NM Prichal during processing – via Roscosmos

    NM (Node Module) Prichal is an addition to the Russian MLM Nauka and will provide four HDA-type docking ports to the Russian segment of the space station. The addition of docking ports would provide Russia and Roscosmos the opportunity to expand their segment.

    Progress MS-17 Updates
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  • This prospect may not come to fruition in response to Russia looking at other opportunities away from the ISS this decade. Regardless, it is expected that Prichal will share servicing Soyuz vehicles with the Rassvet module, whilst Progress vehicles will dock to the Zvezda and Poisk modules.

    On Wednesday, after “go” was given for undocking, Progress released a series of hooks and latches followed by the spacecraft performing thruster firings to back away from the Poisk module. Unlike typical relocations, such as the recent Soyuz MS-18, Progress distanced itself from the station well beyond the “keep out sphere” to a distance of 180-190 kilometers.

    After backing away from the station, the spacecraft ensured that it maintained a precise position in space, known as station-keeping. In order to efficiently use its onboard propellant without excessive adjustments, it station keeped for over 24 hours.

    On Friday, Progress closed in on the station once again, lining up with the nadir port of MLM Nauka for contact and capture with the docking port. The docking probe was captured by the docking cone, and by retracting the probe, Nauka drew the spacecraft in toward the docking system to allow for the various hooks and latches to form a tight seal.

    Once MS-17 is re-docked, the crew will be able to resume using the spacecraft.

    Prichal is tugged by a modified Progress craft toward the ISS – via Mack Crawford for NSF/L2

    Progress’ departure will be carefully timed around the launch of Prichal due to the significance of the APAS-to-SSPV adapter currently on Nauka’s nadir port. If this was removed and Prichal failed during launch, the Russian segment would lose an important docking port for the common visitors of Soyuz and Progress. Thus, MS-17 will return when Prichal is ready to take its place.

    In the meantime, Progress MS-18 will launch on October 28 at 00:00 UTC (October 27 at 8:00 PM EDT) aboard a Soyuz 2.1b from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft will dock to the aft port of the Zvezda module, a prime location for Progress spacecraft in order to perform ISS orbital reboosts using their main engines.

    It will deliver approximately three tonnes of food, fuel, and supplies to the ISS crew. Docking is expected at 01:34 UTC on Friday, October 29 (9:34 PM EDT on Thursday, October 28).

    It is currently expected that Prichal will be launched on November 24, also aboard a Soyuz 2.1b from Baikonur. Prichal will be launched with the Progress M-UM, an upgraded type of Progress specifically designed to carry Prichal to the station. After docking the new Russian segment to Nauka, Progress M-UM’s propulsion section will undock after 30 days and re-enter the atmosphere, leaving Prichal’s nadir port free.

    Spacewalks are planned in 2021 and 2022 in order to fully integrate Prichal to Nauka and complete the Russian segment’s newest additions.

    (Lead image: Progress MS-17 approaching to dock to the Poisk module in July – via NASA)

    The post Progress MS-17 completes 24 hour long relocation at Space Station appeared first on NASASpaceFlight.com.

    Source : NASA More   

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