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Old 17-05-2021, 04:29 PM
glend (Glen)
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SpaceX Starship Orbital Flight Plan

A fair bit happening at SpaceX, in terms of planning for the first orbital flight of a Starship.

Starship SN20 is scheduled to undertake the first orbital flight sometime after the 20th of June this year. It will ride aloft on the BN3 booster. SpaceX has filed the required paperwork for the flight approval. This is going to be a sacrificial flight, in that actual landings will not be land based, but likely water landings. Plans call for the Booster to burn back towards Boca Chica after separation from the Starship, just like Falcon 9 boosters do now, but they will not attempt to bring it back to Boca Chica, rather go for a soft water landing in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore from Boca Chica. It will do a normal landing burn approach but touch down in the water.
The Starship SN20 will have Raptor vacuum engines, for orbital insertion, and re-entry burn. They plan to bring it down near Hawaii, for the same sort of soft upright water landing as the Booster.
The goal of this mission is data gathering for future flights.
It remains to be seen if they will be attempting to recover this booster and SN20, the big question is probably will they float, and does recovery provide any value. Heat shield inspection might be one big reason to at least keep it afloat long enough to photograph the hull. Once in salt water they would likely need to be scrapped anyway, hot engines plunged into the ocean does not sound like a re-usability practice.

It remains to be seen what they will launch from, as the orbital launch platform complex and it's fuel farm do not look like being ready in one month. Although the Orbital launch table could be finished. The booster will have 27 Raptors to lift the combined stack. They will need to fuel both stages somehow.

It will likely be interesting.
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Old 17-05-2021, 04:36 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Originally Posted by glend View Post
A fair bit happening at SpaceX, in terms of planning for the first orbital flight of a Starship.

Starship SN20 is scheduled to undertake the first orbital flight sometime after the 20th of June this year. It will ride aloft on the BN3 booster. SpaceX has filed the required paperwork for the flight approval. This is going to be a sacrificial flight, in that actual landings will not be land based, but likely water landings. Plans call for the Booster to burn back towards Boca Chica after separation from the Starship, just like Falcon 9 boosters do now, but they will not attempt to bring it back to Boca Chica, rather go for a soft water landing in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore from Boca Chica. It will do a normal landing burn approach but touch down in the water.
The Starship SN20 will have Raptor vacuum engines, for orbital insertion, and re-entry burn. They plan to bring it down near Hawaii, for the same sort of soft upright water landing as the Booster.
The goal of this mission is data gathering for future flights.
It remains to be seen if they will be attempting to recover this booster and SN20, the big question is probably will they float, and does recovery provide any value. Heat shield inspection might be one big reason to at least keep it afloat long enough to photograph the hull. Once in salt water they would likely need to be scrapped anyway, hot engines plunged into the ocean does not sound like a re-usability practice.

It remains to be seen what they will launch from, as the orbital launch platform complex and it's fuel farm do not look like being ready in one month. Although the Orbital launch table could be finished. The booster will have 27 Raptors to lift the combined stack. They will need to fuel both stages somehow.

It will likely be interesting.
Glen
Sounds exciting
Any idea of the thrust at lift off ( 27 raptors ) in pounds lbs
Will be an awesome liftoff to watch live
Martin
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Old 17-05-2021, 04:47 PM
glend (Glen)
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Glen
Sounds exciting
Any idea of the thrust at lift off ( 27 raptors ) in pounds lbs
Will be an awesome liftoff to watch live
Martin
The discussed payload capacity to orbit is 100 to 150 metric tonnes. And that is payload capacity, so add the weight of the Booster, Starship, fuel etc on top of that. I will see if I can track the numbers down.

Elon Musk stated that Starship HLS will be "capable of at least 100 tons and probably closer to 200 tons of useful payload to low Earth orbit. It would need refueling in orbit to proceed from there.

NASA is paying SpaceX $54million USD to conduct an orbital refueling test, hopefully later this year. This is a requirement for the Lunar contract.
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Old 22-05-2021, 07:53 AM
glend (Glen)
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SpaceX Leaping Ahead in Program

Update: SpaceX has apparently decided to skip production of SN17 - SN19, and go straight to the build of the designated first orbital Starship (SN20). At present SN16 is sitting, mostly completed, in the High bay building at Boca Chica, ready for pressure testing. SN16 is scheduled for a 20km high flight.
SN15 is still on the pad under going refurbishment since its successful flight, at least one engine has been removed for examination or replacement.

On the Integration Tower build, SpaceX has been pre-fabricating complete sections of the tower and overnight rolled out the second tower section to the orbital launch area. It will be lifted into place by the newly assembled mobile mega-crane. There are three more tower sections nearly completed at the build site. That means five of the Tower's rumoured seven sections, are pretty much ready for stacking.

For those interested, there are several new videos up on Utube of build progress, one of which includes vision of the Booster methane distribution manifold, which is a real work of art in stainless steel. This manifold, at the bottom of the methane tank, carries fuel to each of the boosters Raptor engines. See NASA Spaceflight Utube channel for details.

Link here:

https://youtu.be/KWaSBJnSYGE

Last edited by glend; 22-05-2021 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 22-05-2021, 09:54 AM
Startrek (Martin)
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Originally Posted by glend View Post
Update: SpaceX has apparently decided to skip production of SN17 - SN19, and go straight to the build of the designated first orbital Starship (SN20). At present SN16 is sitting, mostly completed, in the High bay building at Boca Chica, ready for pressure testing. SN16 is scheduled for a 20km high flight.
SN15 is still on the pad under going refurbishment since its successful flight, at least one engine has been removed for examination or replacement.

On the Integration Tower build, SpaceX has been pre-fabricating complete sections of the tower and overnight rolled out the second tower section to the orbital launch area. It will be lifted into place by the newly assembled mobile mega-crane. There are three more tower sections nearly completed at the build site. That means five of the Tower's rumoured seven sections, are pretty much ready for stacking.

For those interested, there are several new videos up on Utube of build progress, one of which includes vision of the Booster methane distribution manifold, which is a real work of art in stainless steel. This manifold, at the bottom of the methane tank, carries fuel to each of the boosters Raptor engines. See NASA Spaceflight Utube channel for details.

Link here:

https://youtu.be/KWaSBJnSYGE
Glen
Thanks for the updates
I think the SN20 orbital test flight will be make or break for the ambitious Space X schedule to get to the Moon and Mars within the decade. If they nail the test flight Iím sure the Moon is only a few years away and Mars ( unmanned ) probably another 3 to 4 years after that
All exciting stuff !!
Martin
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Old 22-05-2021, 10:25 PM
glend (Glen)
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Engines removed from SN15

All three Raptor engines were removed from SN15 today, and returned to the build site on one trailer. It is unknown, why this has taken place. Perhaps it is for detailed inspection and upgrades of some components prior to next flight, or does this indicate that SN15 is going to be scrapped.
SN16 is apparently ready to fly, but any flight, and subsequent landing, maybe out of the question during the Integration Tower assembly, and the required presence of the very tall and expensive Orbital facility assembly cranes onsite near the Starship launch and landing pads. The two largest cranes, have just been assembled, a process that took a week, and even though they are tracked mobile cranes, getting them offsite and back again doesn't make much sense as they are perfectly positioned for the Tower build now.
My guess is that SN15, now minus its engines, will be returned to the build site for scrapping, as it is currently a bottleneck to intended program.
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Old 25-05-2021, 06:00 AM
glend (Glen)
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The Integration Tower stacking started overnight. NasaSpaceflight has a Utube video up on its channel.
Prior to the stacking of segment #2, an elevator was lowered into centre of the tower base structure. It seems they are constructing an elevator like the one at the High Bay building, that will run up a track (This one on the inside of the Tower), to allow construction crew easy access. It's pretty clear that getting people up the Tower in a man lift crane was not going to work given the heights anticipated.
There are also internal stairs being constructed. I am not sure how the final interior structure will look or be equipped.
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Old 27-05-2021, 03:32 PM
glend (Glen)
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SN15 has been moved, it was transported back to the RV Park near the Build Site, where it now sits on a display stand. So this may mean that it is going to be kept as a static display (first Starship to successfully land after test flight).
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Old 27-05-2021, 06:11 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glend View Post
SN15 has been moved, it was transported back to the RV Park near the Build Site, where it now sits on a display stand. So this may mean that it is going to be kept as a static display (first Starship to successfully land after test flight).
I thought Elon believes in reusability ?
Plenty of reusable components in SN15 ?
Do they need monuments for test vehicles ?
Oh but then again itís Elon Musk , he does things left field
My 2 cents ......
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Old 27-05-2021, 07:10 PM
glend (Glen)
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I thought Elon believes in reusability ?
Plenty of reusable components in SN15 ?
Do they need monuments for test vehicles ?
Oh but then again itís Elon Musk , he does things left field
My 2 cents ......
The engines were removed before it was retired. I believe the overall program schedule forced Elon's hand, he needs to get an orbital flight done by the end of the year, because NASA is tying a refueling proof of concept payment to an orbital flight.
Now that the HLA contract is safe, it is more than just Mars in his sites.
It was just practical. It is hard to have large expensive cranes working around the Pad area while thinking about a launch in the near term. Stacking the Integration Tower is a priority, as is finishing the Orbital Fuel Farm infrastructure.
They may fly SN16 but my bet is that it is also a lower priority now, after all they proved the design works and can land, what does he gain by doing It again in the same way?
Reusability is one aspect, but these individual ships are pretty cheap compared to SLAs. Get to orbit, and back, is the new focus, I believe. Success at that puts any competitors way behind.
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Old 27-05-2021, 07:53 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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The engines were removed before it was retired. I believe the overall program schedule forced Elon's hand, he needs to get an orbital flight done by the end of the year, because NASA is tying a refueling proof of concept payment to an orbital flight.
Now that the HLA contract is safe, it is more than just Mars in his sites.
It was just practical. It is hard to have large expensive cranes working around the Pad area while thinking about a launch in the near term. Stacking the Integration Tower is a priority, as is finishing the Orbital Fuel Farm infrastructure.
They may fly SN16 but my bet is that it is also a lower priority now, after all they proved the design works and can land, what does he gain by doing It again in the same way?
Reusability is one aspect, but these individual ships are pretty cheap compared to SLAs. Get to orbit, and back, is the new focus, I believe. Success at that puts any competitors way behind.
Is one successful test flight ( and landing ) of SN15 constitute success and reliability. I would have thought SN16 and SN17 test flights would reinforce the design and engineering of this vehicle and itís reliability and more importantly the next big development of the booster and orbital vehicle.The Apollo program and the development of the Saturn 5 vehicle took 6 years ( 1962 to 1968 ) with Mercury and Gemini programs running in tandem to get to the unmanned test flights of Apollo 4 , 5 and 6. Huge development and test program which at the time had nearly 400,000 people working on the program and not one Saturn 5 flight to the moon and back failed ( Apollo 13 was a successful failure not due to the Saturn 5)
Is Elon pushing too quick too hard ?
He certainly has the runs on the board, but the real deal will be manned orbital flights of his Starships.Falcon 9 took 16 years of development and testing to achieve human rated safety and reliability
Your thoughts ?
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Old 27-05-2021, 09:37 PM
glend (Glen)
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Is one successful test flight ( and landing ) of SN15 constitute success and reliability. I would have thought SN16 and SN17 test flights would reinforce the design and engineering of this vehicle and it’s reliability and more importantly the next big development of the booster and orbital vehicle.The Apollo program and the development of the Saturn 5 vehicle took 6 years ( 1962 to 1968 ) with Mercury and Gemini programs running in tandem to get to the unmanned test flights of Apollo 4 , 5 and 6. Huge development and test program which at the time had nearly 400,000 people working on the program and not one Saturn 5 flight to the moon and back failed ( Apollo 13 was a successful failure not due to the Saturn 5)
Is Elon pushing too quick too hard ?
He certainly has the runs on the board, but the real deal will be manned orbital flights of his Starships.Falcon 9 took 16 years of development and testing to achieve human rated safety and reliability
Your thoughts ?
If you look at some recent photos of SN17, there is a big hole cut into the downward facing side, taking out a chunk of heat tiles. As SN17 has not been stacked yet, it may never get to that stage. Elon has said in his Tweets that the focus is now on the Orbital mission. I don't think he cares much about past program iterative development and testing. We can not know if he is pushing too hard, as this sort of spacecship development has not been attempted before. Right now he is stuck, waiting for the Orbital infrastructure, which is holding up where he wants to be this year. I believe His goals for this year could be considered modest, in terms of the future plans. He just want to get a Starship to orbit and return the booster and Starship for a water landing; no complexity like landing them back at the pad, just a gentle plunge into the water. Assuming they are empty they might be able to be towed back to land (which he mentioned in one Tweet).
In terms of human rated safety and reliability, he has been through that with NASA, with the Dragon capsule. And NASA has to sign off on humans riding in these things. There is a long way to go before it is certified by NASA, but they and the FAA are going along with the rapid development ride. The next few weeks should be very telling. The latest overhead shots of the Orbital launch table show what look to be hold down clamps being Installed, and the next tower segment is ready to roll out as early as tomorrow. More concerning is the fuel farm completion and the GSE piping to the tower for fueling. The elevator is being Installed now. I suppose they could stack the booster (BN3) and SN20 using the largest crane, for that first orbital flight, which is not being brought back to Boca. Does that mean no booster flight test? Who knows, maybe they would just fly it, after all they have heaps of booster development experience, and boosters are actually much simpler, in my opinion. They might be thinking of just doing a booster hop test, but they have no legs, they are suppose to be grabbed by the tower arms. So maybe just a static fire, then go for orbit. After all Apollo had to fly, there was no hop testing then, far too expensive.
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Old 28-05-2021, 07:35 AM
glend (Glen)
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Integration Tower segment #3 has been rolled out to the tower site. Scaffolding is pre-attached back at the build site.. I suspect they will delay the lift of this segment until tomorrow morning, their time, as the present winds would present problems (30mph gusts).

This is my last update on this thread. Sources are available to track this stuff directly if your interested,, and there is not much interest here anyway.
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