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Launches: SpaceX had a busy day yesterday, with Starship engine tests and a Starlink deployment

Launches: Rocket firing engines with smoke.
SpaceX performs an engine test on Starship 24 at its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on Tuesday (August 9, 2022). During the same test window, the Super Heavy Booster 7 was also test fired, marking the first time a Raptor 2 had been used with the vehicle. Also on Tuesday, SpaceX launched another batch of 52 Starlink satellites. Image via SpaceX.

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August 10 update 2: Good news for Artemis 1

From Lia: Emre Kelly – a space reporter for Florida Today and USA Today – tweeted the news that the U.S. Space Force has updated NASA’s Artemis 1 launch date from pending to scheduled! This report solidifies the launch time at 8:33 a.m. EDT on August 29 (00:33 UTC August 30).

The Space Launch System rocket is scheduled to return to the pad ahead of launch on August 18.

August 10 update 1: SpaceX had a busy day yesterday, with Starship engine tests and a Starlink deployment

From Dave: Fans of Starship – SpaceX’s two-stage, fully-reusable heavy lift vehicle – were atwitter yesterday (Tuesday, August 9, 2022) after reports from the company’s Boca Chica, Texas, Starbase showed video of successful live-fire engine tests performed on both Booster 7 and Starship (or just Ship) 24. The pioneering aerospace concern is moving, as usual, quickly ahead, apparently aiming for an orbital test of the tallest and most powerful rocket yet built, as soon as they can make it happen.

Confusingly, SpaceX calls both the second stage (“the spacecraft”) and the entire two-stage vehicle – a stack of a Super Heavy Booster and a second-stage spacecraft – a Starship. The two stages tested today, Booster 7 and Ship 24, will be mated into a single complete Starship for the maiden voyage into orbit around Earth. Notably, today’s test marks the first time a Raptor 2 engine – in this case, just one of 33 engines the rocket carries – has been fired while mounted on a Super Heavy Booster. The impressive video of the engine firing at full thrust drew a flurry of celebratory congratulations, along with a handful of the usual sneers from SpaceX’s detractors.

SpaceX also shared video of the Ship 24 static engine test fire, a milestone for this particular spacecraft, but not the first time the company has live-fired a Starship second stage. Two of Ship 24’s engines were fired during the test.

Meanwhile, back at Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX shot 52 more Starlink satellites into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 booster that made its third roundtrip into space and back. SpaceX shared video of the fiery nighttime launch:

They also offered up video of the booster’s automated landing at sea on the A Shortfall of Gravitas.

August 8 update: Russia leaving ISS? Not so fast!

From Dave: Yuri Borisov, the new head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, apparently didn’t really mean it when he told Russian President Vladimir Putin last month the agency was ending its participation in the International Space Station after 2024. During a live briefing hosted by NASA late last week (August 4, 2022), speaking through an interpreter, Sergei Krikalev, executive director of human space flight programs for the Russians, said there was a misunderstanding, possibly something “lost in translation:”

As far as the statement for 2024, perhaps something was lost in the translation. But the statement actually said that Russia will not pull out of the program until after 2024. This means up until the end of 2024 there will be no changes. And after 2024 may mean 2025, 2028 or 2030, and this specific concrete decision about a termination of the program will be based on the technical condition of the station and the assessment of all partners.

His comment came during a discussion of the upcoming SpaceX Crew-5 launch, set for early fall. The flight will mark the first time a cosmonaut will ride a Dragon crew capsule to orbit, according to NASA:

The Crew-5 mission will carry NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada as well as JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina. The Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon Endurance spacecraft is scheduled to launch no earlier than September 29 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Four people in spacesuits.
Members of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 pose in their spacesuits in this collage. They are, from left to right, top to bottom: NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina. Kikina will be the 1st cosmonaut to fly aboard a SpaceX Dragon this September. Image via NASA.
Middle-aged man with an intense look on his face.
Russian space agency Roscosmos head Yuri Borisov. Image via

Bottom line: SpaceX successfully tested engines on both stages of Starship in anticipation of an orbital test flight, on August 9, 2022, as well as launched 52 more Starlink satellites to orbit.

Looking for last week’s Launches blog? Click here

August 10, 2022
Human World

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