Saturday, September 12, 2020

Small Space New Wrap Up

Small Launcher Startup Astra Loses One in Test Launch

The last time I mentioned small launcher startup Astra was back in March, when they just missed the DARPA challenge by less than a minute.  Unfortunately, there's not much word on what happened but in a video of the launch you can see the first stage fail after about 30 seconds, and then the vehicle starts tumbling.  It falls back to the ground and explodes on impact.  Astra says the first stage looked good but that's putting a happy face on it.  The mission hoped to make orbit but Astra said the mission's main goal was to test the first stage and since it didn't complete its mission that's got to be a disappointment.  As I expected, both Elon Musk and Rocket Lab's Peter Beck offered encouragement via Twitter almost immediately.

Scott Manley, one of the more popular video channels on space topics, has a video on the subject

SpaceX Pressure Test of Starship Prototype SN 7.1 NET Monday.

The original road closure for the pressure test was Friday, but that was cancelled early in the day.  It's not unusual for a scheduled test to slip; the unusual part is they didn't reschedule for the weekend.  SN7.1 has been on the test stand since Wednesday.  After SN6's successful hop test on Thursday the 3rd, SN6 was brought back to the "shipyard" (the area where the vehicles are stacked and built) on Tuesday, 9/8.  SN7.1 was then brought to the a new test stand in the area SN6 hopped from the next day.  At 2013 local here, the system is being worked with a group of guys on and around the test stand.  

The road closure Monday is from 9PM to 6AM Tuesday, so overnight.  I'll look for video Wednesday morning. 

SpaceX Releases an Unusual Video of Last Sunday's SAOCOM-1B launch.

They've released video shot from the cameras on the first stage as it returns to the drone ships before, but the novelty of this video is it's the entire mission from the perspective of the first stage, with sound from microphones attached to the booster.  It's at about 4x normal speed, so it only takes 2:19 of your time. 

NASA's SLS Achieves Important Milestone

I rag on the SLS as much as anyone, so I'm going to tip my hat to them for completing an important milestone test last week.  On September 2nd, they ran a complete burn test of the Solid Rocket Booster that will be used on all versions of the Space Launch System.  See the NASA video here

I know at least a few of you are thinking, "wait - those are the Space Shuttle SRBs; why do they need to qualify them?"  The original supplier of the solid fuel for the boosters has gone out of that business or they're not making that mix anymore, so the new supplier needed to be qualified.

There you go - three stories that are each too short to make up a post, but keep up with what's happening.

EDIT 1106 PM EDT 9/12:  Not quite sure how it happened, but as pointed out in the first comment, the video link to the SLS booster test somehow ended up at a video I never watched.  


  1. Ooops...your link took me to the Falcon Heavy launch from 2018.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out! I have no idea how that happened - I've never watched that. I guess maybe YouTube queued up that video behind the SLS test and it switched over to having that URL?

      Should be better now. Works for me.