It has long been known that SpaceX’s Falcon rockets use more than one type of upper stage depending on the needs of a given mission, but only now have we learned some more details. Falcon rockets actually use three different upper stages, which differ in how long they can last in orbit.
SpaceX used to perform a so-called static fire test before every launch of its Falcon 9 rocket. However, since 2020 SpaceX has in some cases not performed this pre-launch test at all. Let’s take a look at the purpose of a static fire, the types of missions where SpaceX skips this test, and try to figure out why. We will also explain why some static fires are performed with the payload attached and others without.
In less than two weeks, the ground-breaking Inspiration4 mission is scheduled to launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft into orbit with four crew members, none of whom are professional astronauts. Crew Dragon for this mission is equipped with a glass cupola to give the crew the best possible view during their three-day stay in Earth orbit. What have we learned so far about the largest window to ever be flown to space?
Just one month after the Starship SN9 test flight, its successor SN10 launched. This time, SpaceX got much closer to a complete success. SN10 was the first prototype to land in one piece, although it exploded a few minutes later. Elon Musk later explained why the landing was not successful.
Elon Musk’s busy two weeks – first flight of Starhopper, Neuralink announcement, Starship presentation and more
SpaceX is preparing for the first Starhopper flight and two Falcon 9 launches, Musk’s secretive company Neuralink will make its first public announcement, and Tesla will announce its financial results for the record-breaking second quarter. All of this will be followed by Musk’s presentation about the Starship rocket, which has undergone many design changes in recent months.
SpaceX’s fairing recovery efforts are gearing up again after a 3-month-long slow period caused by Mr. Steven suffering damage in late February. Luckily, Mr. Steven has now been fixed and should be ready in time to try to catch a fairing in about a month. In the meantime, SpaceX has been recovering fairing halves by landing them in the ocean. I have a theory that until Mr. Steven manages to catch a fairing, we’ll only see reused fairings on Starlink missions.
Falcon 9 will launch dozens of Starlink satellites and there could be up to 7 such launches this year
Over the past few months, SpaceX has been quietly preparing to launch the first batch of satellites for Starlink project, its global internet constellation. The launch is planned for May 16 on a Falcon 9 rocket launching from Cape Canaveral. More missions like this one could take place this year.
On Saturday, Falcon 9 successfully launched a reused Dragon capsule to the ISS as part of the CRS-17 mission for NASA. At a press conference that followed, we learned more about the problems that caused the delay on Friday, as well as NASA’s plans for Falcon and Dragon reuse. It turns out that by the end of the year, we might see CRS missions that will fly Falcons and Dragons that had been used twice before.
During last week’s Arabsat 6A mission, all three Falcon Heavy boosters successfully landed. The center core has undergone a hot and challenging return through the atmosphere, yet it still landed safely on the droneship. Unfortunately, before the booster could be secured to the deck, rough sea caused it to tip over. Why wasn’t OctaGrabber used?
Another set of fairings were recovered and even though they landed in the water, they will be reused this year. It would be the first reuse of fairings ever. How come it’s possible to reuse fairings that came into contact with sea water? One possible explanation is that the fairings have been upgraded. Is Mr. Steven now obsolete?