What are the solutions to SpaceX's Starship FAA delays?Feb 23, 2022
SpaceX will launch Starships into orbit after FAA approval. Or later this year. Or never? What's with all the confusion and how is SpaceX going to continue? My name is Felix and I'm your host for today's episode of ¿Qué tal?! And as always, there's been a lot going on in the space industry lately, so let's dive in! SpaceX Starship heist
delaysare a common occurrence in the space industry. Almost all rocket development faced them at some point during the design-build phase. SpaceX is no different in this regard, though its
delaysare typically less severe. Currently, there are some very confusing statements that confuse the space community in general.
And today, we're going to clear that up. In the case of SpaceX which involves the development of arguably the most important rocket in human history, it's not entirely up to SpaceX. It's at least partly taken out of their hands at this point. The FAA or Federal Aviation Administration has once again postponed its date for the ongoing environmental review regarding Starbase and Boca Chica. For the second time in a row, they have updated their project page. It's available online and there's a link in the description if you'd like to read it yourself. The website claims that more than 19,000 comments were received on the case and that more time is needed to account for further ongoing inter-agency review and consultation.
This does not give us much to speculate about. Of course, internal interagency communication is not public, so one can only guess at the detailed reasoning behind the delay. However, in the latest Starship update on February 11, Musk said some exciting things that leave a lot of room for interpretation. He said SpaceX would be ready for orbital flight shortly after FAA approval. He also said that this important flight milestone could happen towards the end of this year. Last but not least, he said that if the FAA does not grant permission for more launch activities at the South Texas launch site, SpaceX would be ready and willing to move its Starship test operations to the Space Center.
Kennedy in Florida, as a valid permit is already available there. That's a lot of information that needs more context for the big picture to become visible. It's unknown if there are political games going on to prevent SpaceX from launching on Starbase at this time, so I won't make it a topic on my channel, but there are conclusions that can be drawn from the known facts. Chief, our WAI camera operator in Starbase, Texas, has been busy the past two weeks. Shipments almost daily. Construction Mega Bay to give more space for building prototypes. Extensive tank farm testing to prepare the infrastructure for an orbital launch.
Mechazilla has first been used in preparation for the Ship 20 and Booster 4 stack. After all, it was just a backdrop for Musks' 2022 Starship presentation. Nonetheless, he proved that Mechazilla is up for that ground handling job. Ship 20 has seen further pressure testing. More build validation. And everything seemed to work fine too. The same goes for booster 4. Ice buildup on the outside of said prototype means cryogenic testing is underway. And again. Booster 4 seemed to work well in this recent test conducted on February 18. However, there is no visible retention. No major problem. Starship development is faster than ever, and SpaceX isn't stopping.
Chief is constantly moving between the launch and the build site to keep up with all the milestones. This, for example, is Ship 22. It is a hybrid between the conical nose of Ship 21 and the tank section of Ship 22. I speculated that SpaceX would not retire Ship 22 and instead combine it with the cone of the nose of Ship 21 almost two months ago, and now it happened. The stack is ready and ship 22 is ready to develop, hoping that Booster 7 is prepared as well. The Mega Bay, SpaceX's latest addition to the fast-growing infrastructure at the Starbase production site, just saw Level 5 stacked on top of the ever-growing building.
So in summary, although Musk claims that he would be ready to move operations to the East Coast and Kennedy Space Center, progress on Starbase is arguably even accelerating right now. So
what's the plan? How is SpaceX progressing and
whatwill the next few months bring? If we connect all the points, the picture is relatively simple. SpaceX is going to go with the flow. If the FAA gives the green light for Starbase and Starship Orbital flights from Boca Chica soon enough, Musk and his team want to be ready. Construction is ongoing, tests are underway, and there are no signs that SpaceX wants to stop anytime soon.
It doesn't matter what headline you've been reading in the mainstream media. Musk stated at the same time that SpaceX could be ready for an orbital launch soon after FAA approval, so around the end of March, and at the same time claiming that it will happen until the end of the year is a bit more complex, though. . Those two statements contradict each other, which leads to a lot of confusion. Having researched the project for the last 3 years, and having dealt with many cryptic statements from Musk in 207 episodes of WAI so far, my thinking on all of this is a bit simpler.
Musk wants to keep all possibilities on the table. If the FAA gives Starbase the green light at the end of March, as they said a few days ago, SpaceX will make an orbital launch soon after. Everything at Starbase points to SpaceX being ready and willing to take the next step necessary to reach orbit. However, on the other hand, Musk claimed that it will happen until the end of this year. This statement is likely unrelated to Starbase, and that's where a lot of the confusion is coming from. End of the year means KSC. It means SpaceX is continuing its already ongoing efforts to build a second pillar for the Starship program.
A bailout plan if the FAA doesn't approve more launches in Texas. Musk also stated in the recent Starship Update that SpaceX would be ready to launch Starships from the Kennedy Space Center in about half a year. Six months would take us to August. That's fine into 2022, and I suppose this is why Musk apparently contradicts himself by saying April, but at least this year. I hope I was able to clear up at least some confusion, as that's the main reason I'm running this channel. What is the next move for the space industry and why? To help us do our job even better and for a wider audience, now is the time to pause the video, hit the like button, subscribe to the channel, write your thoughts in the comments, or buy a t-shirt from our store.
WAI clothing to support our work. Or check out WAI plus where you can find new Starship pictures from WAI cam almost every day. You cool! SpaceX Polaris Missions Our next topic is directly related to the previous one. How is SpaceX working for Starship crewed flights? How is Musk's team preparing for longer flights? What is needed for that first trip to Mars? To find answers to all these questions and more, SpaceX has announced the Polaris Missions on February 14. The spaceflight community is excited about this, and rightly so. Polaris is at least somewhat comparable to the Gemini program, which was a preparation for NASA and its subsequent Apollo program.
Jared Isaacman, the commander of the recent Inspiration 4 mission, which was the first all-private spaceflight, is helping with the funding and will be a part of all three missions. The first of three missions will be Polaris Dawn. It will have a Dragon crew, launched on a Falcon 9 rocket. It will travel to the Van Allen belt, a zone of high radiation that extends around Earth from about 400 to 35,000 miles. It is unknown how high the orbit of Polaris Dwan will be, but SpaceX has already announced that it intends to break the height record for manned orbits around the Earth.
SpaceX also plans to test Starlink laser communication on Polaris Dawn. Communication between Earth, Moon, and Mars will be necessary for SpaceX's colonization efforts, and it can't just be NASA's Deep Space Network. NASA currently uses the DSN for all of its deep space efforts, but it won't handle everything SpaceX is planning. So Starlink will extend to the Moon and Mars, and for long-distance links, it will use laser communication. Expect incredible live streaming quality from the pod and EVAs. Most importantly, SpaceX will conduct the first civilian EVA during Polaris Dawn. For this, they won't be using a NASA EVA suit, but rather an upgraded version of SpaceX's pressurized suits.
The goal is to reduce the preparation time for EVAs as much as possible and to make the suit as mobile and easy to use as possible. Now, let's speculate a bit about how SpaceX might do this. NASA's current EVA suits have a big problem. They are incredibly clumsy. So much so that a suit cannot be put on by a single person. The planned EVA astronaut needs help. It only takes about an hour to suit up, and preparations for such an EVA often exceed a day of tasks needed for the EVA to go as planned. So if SpaceX wants to reduce all of this, what does it take?
Essentially, the only problem with an EVA suit is that it's technically a soft spaceship. You need almost every system a real spaceship has to keep an astronaut alive. The giant backpack, the thick suit. All of this comes from those systems. Live support, cooling, communication. There is also no practical way to greatly reduce these systems. The only way to achieve a sleek and easy to ride EVA suit would be to remove those systems from the suit. It all comes down to gaining mobility and reducing setup time. This is all speculation, but why not create an external system that follows the astronaut?
A drone, so to speak, that supplies the astronaut with everything he needs, connected by a lifeline cable in a minute, would allow SpaceX to build a relatively lightweight and easy-to-handle suit. He would get rid of all kinds of problems at the same time. It would allow SpaceX to base its EVA suit design on the current IVA or intravehicular activity suit, and would be a typical SpaceX approach to thinking outside the box. It's impossible to say what SpaceX will do to improve on conventional EVA suit designs. Still, it's relatively safe to say that it will be a surprising and radical approach.
Something that no one has thought of yet. So it may not be my idea either. Polaris one is scheduled for a launch no earlier than Q4 2022, so this year. Polaris 2 does not yet have a launch date, but it will be the preparation flight for the most important project announced by SpaceX so far. Polaris 3. This mission will be the first manned flight of a
starshipin human history. Jarred Isaacman himself has confirmed that the flight will be manned until the end. Ascend, orbit, and re-enter with crew on board. Isaacman plans to be a part of the mission and will demonstrate the flight capability of the Starships crew.
Prior to this mission, SpaceX will conduct numerous Starship flights delivering payload to low-Earth orbit, landing, re-flying hardware, and making sure the rocket itself is safe for crewed flight. So it's pretty safe to say that SpaceX's Starship program isn't stopping. Musk's plans are increasingly taking shape, and even if the FAA doesn't give Starbase the green light for orbital flights, the launches will take place at the Kennedy Space Center. Good times to be alive. Today's video is supported by Brilliant. I've said these words many times, so let's find out why Brilliant was my first and continues to be my monthly sponsor.
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