Monday, June 21, 2021

Monday Space News Roundup

Sounds better than Space Ketchup that I've used a few many times before.  What do you think?  As with those posts, it's a round up of small stories that caught my eye but don't have much to be said about each. 

NASA's SLS Stacking Continues on the Kennedy Space Center

The core stage of NASA's SLS was mated with (bolted to) its two solid rocket boosters earlier this week, and continues to prepare for its initial Artemis flight in November.  This fast motion video was shot in the Vehicle Assembly Building.  

Regular readers know I'm skeptical of that conceptual date.  To borrow a few lines from an early March article on SLS before the successful Green Run test:

Here's the big issue.  This SLS core is intended to fly the first, unmanned, orbital Artemis mission.  Hilariously, NASA and Boeing are still sticking to their schedule fantasy and continue to parrot the party-line that SLS's Artemis-1 launch debut with this prototype is still on track to launch in "November 2021."  That date was set almost a year before the SLS Green Run schedule delays ballooned by at least nine months.  If NASA and Boeing are lucky and there are no more failures that eat months at a time, Artemis-1 might fly by the fall of 2022.

Maybe I'm pessimistic.  I don't think SLS has made one date commitment in the program's history.  The vehicle was supposed to have flown years ago.  If it were to launch in winter of '22, I'd think that was an incredible victory for SLS. 

Of Course I Still Love You at the Panama Canal 

The "ship shipping ship" Mighty Servant 1 carrying the SpaceX recovery drone OCISLY pinged on a position sensor outside the Gulf of Mexico side of the Panama Canal today, at 3:53 PM EDT.  

There's ordinarily a wait to get into the canal and go through, but nobody knows how long they'll wait.  It's likely the ship will have to wait a couple of days to go through the canal with a backlog of 70 ships waiting to go through.  I really don't know the protocols, if companies can pay more to get expedited or what, but those are the reports I'm seeing.  Eric Ralph at Teslarati says not later than Friday, maybe sooner, and then 10 days to Long Beach.  

At SpaceX Boca Chica, Work on the Launch Tower Proceeds

Since the last update a week ago, the next section of the Orbital Launch Integration Tower was stacked on the tower, the second to last section was transported to the launch complex and the last section is reaching completion at the Shipyard.  This photo is from the 13th, and shows what's referred to as the fourth section being added. 

It's looking more and more like the OLIT is being prepared to try to catch the Super Heavy boosters.  The running joke is that Elon was getting bored with landing rockets on their legs on a postage stamp 500 miles offshore, so he thought they'd make the rocket land under power between two arms on a tower and let the tower catch it.  Never mind that nobody else in the world has caught up to getting rockets to land standing up after a mission, on their tails, like every science fiction story we ever read.  


  1. Space roundup is fine. I except ketchup would make a colossal mess in space. Best not to try that.

  2. Earlier this morning I was reading about the Chicoms theft of US military technology. Then I came here for my morning constitution. I found your last sentence most profound. That led to my interest in learning about Chinese espionage targeting SpaceX. So I googled

    “chinese surveillance of spacex”

    Some of the search results I expected. Others were concerning. But Musks deep entanglements with the Chicoms are most concerning to me. Of course he is no different than the rest of American companies in accepting Chinese money with one exception. In your
    words “ Never mind that nobody else in the world has caught up to getting rockets to land standing up after a mission, on their tails, like every science fiction story we ever read.”

    1. Musk has a major Tesla factory over there, and I'm not sure what else. Like every other business in America, I guess they believe they have to sell to that market to survive. Before I followed SpaceX as closely as I do now, I read Musk complaining about the requirements to do business there. The Chicoms push themselves into every company and require majority ownership.

      I think how they capture businesses is they impose ridiculous tariffs but say if you move over there "and create jobs" they don't charge tariffs, lowering the price. Once a company is over there, the Chicoms control it. Talking about the "trade war," I have a quote from a Musk tweet saying, "no US auto company is allowed to own even 50% of their own factory in China, but there are five 100% China-owned EV auto companies in the US."

      It's a sticky situation. I'm very much a "free and fair market" guy, but one side can't play that. A US car imported into Europe gets a 29% tariff, and and 25% into China while we charged 2.5%. It's hard to call that fair. That's aside from the Chinese charging more than 50% control of the factory.

    2. I should have put in a link. Source of the quote in here.

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