SpaceX Starship Conducts Critical Testing, and Secret Space Missions
This video is supported by Brilliant! Hey Hey, Marcus House with you here, and welcome back friends. With commercial space’s aspirations expanding so rapidly there has never been more to cover and this week is no exception. Work at SpaceX’s Starbase still screams along, including Ship testing, as they close that gap between Starship’s orbital flight tests. Plenty of Falcon 9 action or course sending multiple missions into orbit in just this one week alone. The Delta IV Heavy takes it’s second last flight ever in this spectacular fiery display, Rocket lab Hasterly launched its first ever suborbital mission, but shhhhh it’s a secret. And then we have got loads more of all this terrific stuff. Let's jump right into it.
So, remember last week when I said we were truly in the rebuild phase of the Starbase launch site? Well this week, there was a bunch more evidence of that. Just take a look at this! That was the first of multiple flexible cryogenic hoses being reinstalled at the back of the booster quick disconnect. These hoses of course need to be flexible to allow the booster quick disconnect plate to move in and out from its hood. All while being shielded from the mayhem of those 33 Raptor 2 engines roaring above as the Starship lifts off. This sort of quick disconnect system is actually being adopted by more and more launch companies. Why? Because it provides a more seamless and automated process than more traditional flex hoses that connect directly to a rocket. For example,
this is the upper stage of the Falcon 9. Those hoses there need to be either replaced or refurbished after each launch. Rather than the older systems like this Starship and the launch infrastructure that goes along with it, is being designed as a vehicle that could launch multiple times per day. Whether that will eventually become true or not we will just have to see, but innovations like these are always a great improvement to the process! So let’s just follow the main piping at the launch mount right down one of the legs here, more assembly is happening here! Yes, that’s the first of the multiple cryogenic pipes for the orbital launch mount being reinstalled finally. These were removed a while ago of
course after booster 7 performed the rapid unscheduled digging at liftoff. That had caused this structure nicknamed the doghouse to be bent upwards, with the underlying pipework being damaged right along with it. With his most recent flyover RGV Aerial Photography was able to capture some very awesome details of the ever growing rebar maze. Right here we can see that there are already multiple cryogenic pipes laid towards the launch mount leg, showing that the Doghouse indeed will return. That also means that this manifold that we previously thought would go at that location shown in this render by Ryan Hansen, can’t go there anymore, at least not without some incredibly creative pipework angles. Instead with this recess, it’s
fairly safe to assume that one of the manifolds will go there. The manifold right next to that will most likely go right here in front, and that leaves just one more to be placed at the opening between these legs close to the tower. It is nice to get more certainty on how the puzzle is solved! All of the manifolds have also received the protective covers shielding the nozzles. Some of the plates embedded in the concrete to help secure these manifolds have been lifted on the rebar cap this week, ahead of the concrete pouring. At this point though we aren’t fully certain how they connect up the piping between the two different sets of deluge tanks to these manifolds, but I’m sure we’ll find that out very soon, so stay tuned! Speaking of those, this week multiple segments were being lifted around the area. It’s a really great sign I’d say that they
are progressing rapidly with this system. One really neat detail is that it’s very clear to see which pipe segments are ready to be installed in their permanent location. Once at this point, they’ve been cut down to the required size, and they have been painted white.
Over at the suborbital side of Starbase, Ship 25 is still standing proud at pad B, ready to continue its testing campaign. It did almost looked like testing wasn’t going to happen this week, but on Wednesday there it was, just before 2pm. Frost appeared on the vehicle and we had a successful spin prime test. Or as SpaceX likes to call it, a chill and spin test
to check out those vital systems. In the case of a spin prime, the engine's turbopumps are sped up using high pressure gas, to test everything other than actually igniting it. As stated by SpaceX, this was all done in advance of the upcoming static fire, and at the time of publishing that looks likely to be this coming week! Let’s hop in the SpaceX shuttle and head to the buildsite where this week saw the end of the Ground Fabrication building. Unlike the Low Bay,
this building wasn’t flattened in two simple events. No, over time the crew carefully removed each piece and even delicately lifted off its door. Why were they being so careful though? Well, many are speculating that this groundwork here at the Sanchez site is all related. With some
of the structure of the building now spotted at that location I would say it’s looking very likely that the ground fabrication building will now be rebuilt there. Nearby the assembly of the second Megabay had rocked along during the week. All four corner segments of the second layer were placed, and beams connecting all four also installed. Next up the cladding needed to be applied, and then, onto installing more corner segments for the third layer. Now the progress may slow here just a little as SpaceX were seen creating two trenches straight across the main entrance gate of the Ringyard! This is most likely to do with the previously mentioned and overdue expansion of the electrical network. With the main lines now in place from Brownsville they still need to convert that higher voltage down to the more suitable voltages used on-site, and the distribute all that. To support any future upgrades they are
using these Red-e-ducts. Some of which have been stored at the Launch Site at the suborbital side of the tank farm for months now. Great to see what those are being used for at last! That blockade of the main entrance didn’t last long, as SpaceX soon showed it back open transporting in the next corner segment into the ringyard. In no time, we were witnessing the first segment of the third layer being lifted! What about construction updates on future vehicles? Inside the first Megabay the assembly of Booster 12 continued on at a breakneck speed. It’s
methane downcomer? Installed! Thrust section? Yep, here it was heading in, followed shortly after by it being lifted inside. Before we knew it, there was the Liquid Oxygen tank fully stacked! Now it’s time to install the remaining COPV’s, the autogenous pressurization lines, and a bunch of other parts they can do ahead of the huge methane tank being stacked above. The benefit of doing this now, is that this tank is currently structurally fine to work inside without the bridge crane continuously supporting it at the top. Once the methane tank with the four grid fins is all stacked, the bridge crane is required just to increase that safety margin. So how has that
methane tank going? The forward dome section was stacked, and in no time, it was already 9 rings tall. There was just one stack remaining to complete it, and there we go. The main body of the methane tank was being fully constructed. Next door in the Highbay the news perhaps isn’t as great for Ship 28. This week we saw its payload bay door being removed! Thankfully they
still have the external braces installed on its PEZ door so the Ship is at least structurally stable. Why exactly they decided to remove it and also how they have removed it with the PEZ dispenser inside is a bit of a mystery. What do you think? Let me know in the comments. Thankfully the future of Ship 28 was not all doom and gloom with its second aft flap being moved inside the Highbay for installation. We’ve also been keeping an eye on some nosecone action. Now, this is a little speculative, but some of the upgrades SpaceX has done to the nosecones of Ship 30 and onward are intriguing. Notice these new ports? This is finally looking like we may have Reaction Control hardware. These potential cold gas thrusters appearing now is a
near insight because they've been added just recently. This here is a shot from this same nose cone after it came out just a few weeks back. Clearly, it doesn’t have them there. That may conclude Starship updates around the various sites, but more great insights were shared in this recent article by NASA. They’ve put forward Seven US Companies that will Collaborate
with them to Advance Space Capabilities. Specifically there is really great Starship related information in here which I’ll get to in just a second. Interestingly, this time around, NASA made it clear that they wouldn’t be providing any of the companies with capital or funding.
Instead they will be working with them, assisting with Research and Development, and potentially sharing technology and experience. These companies and projects are all intriguing so let's just have a run through them. It isn’t at all surprising that SpaceX was on the list. After all, NASA is already heavily invested. A line from the article that has kicked off a range of speculation in the community states that “This architecture includes Starship not only as a transportation system, but an in-space low-Earth orbit destination element”. This sounds almost like Starship could be destined to become a space station in its own right, all supported by their Starship and Dragon fleet. Also utilizing Starlink technology for connectivity with the world
below. That would be pretty darn exciting. We’ve just recently seen the astounding news about Vast space partnering up with SpaceX. Well, they are included right here on the list too. Haven-1’s concept for a commercial Space Station, potentially the first ever fully private space station in orbit is a terrific thought alone. Now with them
officially collaborating with NASA this adds a lot more certainty to the overall plan in my view. I’m thrilled to see Sierra space and the Dreamchaser spacecraft getting a good mention. After all, this little space plane and its future variants can open a range of added crew launch options. Especially when we consider the unfortunate issues that have plagued
Starliner. Equally exciting is that Sierra Space is also working on their LIFE module, the Large Integrated Flexible Environment. This is a three story inflatable habitat module that can support a crew in space. It was also presented to form part of Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef
project announced way back in October 2021. Speaking of Blue Origin, they will also be collaborating with NASA in developing a human-class orbital transportation system intended to ride on top of the upcoming New Glenn launch vehicle. The activity around the production of New Glenn has been picking up pace recently, however given how closed off they like to be, we’ll need to wait until more information comes to light about any of that. Then we spotted this new Persistent Platform by Northrup Grumman all based on their Cygnus vehicle which occasionally sends cargo to the International Space Station. This modified idea has an added bus and a few extra solar panels. Apparently these adaptations will make
it a vehicle capable for commercial research and manufacturing in space! Also included, in this idea, is the technology to provide in-space servicing. Next on the list, Special Aerospace Services! They are building an Astronaut Automatic Maneuvering Unit or AMU to help astronauts do servicing and assembly in a safer way. And lastly a relatively new Startup, ThinkOrbital. NASA and Think Orbital will work on developing the Think Platform and Construction Technologies for Space Applications. The ThinkPlatform is a concept
that involves a spherical habitat module assembled in space using a robotic arm. I think it is safe to say that any astronaut experiencing life in this bad boy would be having an absolute ball. Like and subscribe! I think the future of this looks neat. It could serve as part of a commercial space station, or have other vehicles like SpaceX's Starship docked to it. That is, if you think about it, kind of weird. I mean, Starship itself is huge! Rather than constructing something like the sphere, there would be loads of volume in Starship without constructing anything. The crew version would include all the life
support equipment required and given they can just launch as one unit, you’re done. Soon after our video last week went live, we had Falcon 9, booster 1067 hurling the SATRIA satellite to orbit from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral. This is a high-speed telco satellite to provide internet to the thousands of islands in the Indonesian archipelago. It is challenging to get telecommunications set up here of course due to the huge number of separate islands. Again,
a great case for satellite internet given the limited options in the rural areas. This is the problem the Indonesian government wants to solve with SATRIA. This has a super high throughput offering around 150 Gigabits per Second. Apparently, this satellite is the most powerful
of its kind in the South-East Asia region. Back to the launch here as we see engine cut off and stage separation. Shortly after fairing deployment of course but interesting these two were on their 7th and 9th flights. It is crazy how many times these can be used now. The landing footage for this one was a little choppier than usual, but there was the shot of the day, in daylight on the drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas drone-ship. The 12th landing for this booster!
SpaceX needed the full Merlin Vacuum bell for this mission which needed a second burn to shoot itself into the required Geosynchronous Transfer orbit. At 36 minutes into the mission, the satellite was deployed leaving it to complete the rest of its journey. It will take it about 5 more months to reach its operational orbit, and should begin operations by early 2024. Thursday, we got to see some rare Delta IV Heavy action and watch closely because this is the second last time you are ever going to see it! Only one more flight to go currently set in quarter 1 next year. After being scrubbed due to an issue with a ground-system valve the previous
day, ULA was back with this gigantic triple core rocket standing strong at the Space Launch Complex 37B. Inside the payload fairings up top the secret payload in this classified NROL-68 mission. Yes, not much we can say about that, so it was short launch coverage. No matter though because the brilliant Delta IV Heavy never leaves anyone disappointed lifting off in style. Just check
out that iconic fire here with a terrific liftoff. The Delta IV Heavies 15th overall flight ever at the same time as being its second last! The rocket has been operational since 2004 and 11 of its total 15 launches were for the National Reconnaissance Office. Terrific shots from the ground by Greg Scott here too. Love that epic triple exhaust shot. A few minutes later that
always spectacular side boosters cut off with them disappearing into the darkness. A little over 1 minute and 35 seconds later, there went the center booster, and my favorite, the incredible RL10 engine nozzle extension popping out. Given the secretive nature of the payload that is where the stream ended. The mission success was shown later. This week there were two starlink missions that only launched a day apart, both taking the older version 1.5 satellites to orbit. On the left, the early Thursday morning launch. Booster 1075 on its fourth flight from Vandenberg
Space Force Base in California. 47 Starlink satellites on board here. On the right, and a little over a day later on Friday, Booster 1069 on its eighth flight from right across the country at SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Florida. 56 Starlink satellites on board that one. And a very welcome neat surprise here from SpaceX was that for the first time, we got to see these views from multiple cameras on board. All using a Twitter event! I’m really hoping we see that functionality extended even further because this is incredibly beneficial, not just for situational awareness but also, I must say, makes the viewing experience even more enjoyable.
The rockets blasted through the sky, first stage separation with both second stages completing the longer portion of the flight, and taking all those Starlink satellites to orbit. Both boosters completed the landing burn all shown with twin views. Booster 1075 landing on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You, and 1069 on Just Read The Instructions. Now last week just as I was preparing for the previous video to go live, Rocket Lab was successfully launching a secretive mission for the Defense Department. This was not streamed, and very little information is known about it. Even more intriguing is that this was the first suborbital variant of the vehicle called the Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron or HASTE for short. This launch was from Launch Complex 2 at Wallops Island, Virginia, and there wasn’t even any details shared on the payload, peak altitude, or speed. In fact, the launch was
only revealed through airspace notifications and a tweet from the NASA Wallops account. What we know is that this platform is designed to accommodate payloads up to 700 kilograms. Rocket Lab's CEO, Peter Beck stated that he expects strong demand from the Defense Department for hypersonics testing and targets, also mentioning that Rocket Lab can “get exact trajectories at a cost, frequency and also an accuracy that’s never been available before”. Sure this launch of HASTE marks a significant milestone for Rocket Lab, but one thing that I’m sure very few of us want to see, is the wonderful Electron ending up primarily as a military platform rather than the current platform dedicated to the advancement of research and scientific missions. After all, Rocket Labs innovation and technology are always state of the art, and I for sure want to see them continuing to share and inspire the industry with scenes like this.
With Rocket Lab and all these incredible companies working on such a colossal range of technical solutions, as a young person wishing to get into this sector, there is limitless inspiration. What can help you with your passions for progress is learning just a little bit each day on a wide variety of topics. [Ad Start] Well, introducing Brilliant.org supporting this video, and many others. Have you ever tried a little programming? Found the subject daunting or perhaps boring. Well, not with Brilliant! No matter what level you are at,
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So next up, I wanted to show you the great work being done by Gravitics. This space station startup recently successfully completed Micrometeoroid Orbital Debris Shields testing. The shield here as explained in this neat video by Gravitics is made up of two metal plates that sandwich this “pillow” in between. Now look at this clip of an 8mm bullet smashing the shield at a speed of over 20,000 kilometers or around 13,000 miles per hour. Without this “pillow”, look at how it gets absolutely destroyed. What if the same bullet hits the shield with
this “pillow” in place? Wow, the difference is absolutely staggering. We can clearly see all that energy dispersing into that pillow layer. This is a proprietary design by Gravitics and they have done an amazing job creating it! It is worth mentioning that although the test here was performed using an 8mm bullet, the average impactors in orbit are far far smaller. Do read up about their space station plans if you haven’t explored this by the way. Yet another inspiring company doing big things to help kick off this upcoming industry of space station awesomeness. Their StarMax concept aims to be a key building block in this new era in Spaceflight, and this shielding concept should do a really good job at protecting the space station. Finally today, in a thrilling close encounter with Mercury, the BepiColombo spacecraft captured breathtaking images of the planet's mysterious surface. I love this mission done in collaboration
between ESA and JAXA, and the latest event has been pretty darn spectacular. The flyby, which occurred on June 19, revealed an array of geological wonders, leaving scientists in awe. The images, snapped by monitoring camera 3, showcased Mercury's rocky terrain with stunning clarity, unveiling the newly named "Manley'' crater. Not after our favorite scottish space youtuber, but after the late Jamaican artist Edna Manley. The images also captured this extraordinary tectonic feature caused by the planet's cooling and contracting. This region alone presents an
opportunity to study Mercury's tectonic history and the volcanic activity that gave rise to the formation. BepiColombo's successful flyby sets the stage for the next exciting event ahead, where scientists will dive deeper into Mercury's core, surface processes, and magnetic field. So yes, best of luck to little BepiColombo which will continue its journey, braving the immense gravitational pull of the Sun, until it enters Mercury's orbit in December 2025. So I hope you enjoyed this video! If you did, don’t forget to hit subscribe so we can keep making them. If you would like to help more directly like all these many many people,
all this support makes a colossal difference to us! The countdown is on to pick up this merch design on a wide range of products. This will be coming offline in July so only a few weeks left. If you want to continue with more space goodness, the algorithm thinks that you will enjoy this video here next, or maybe these videos. Thanks for watching all this way through, and I’ll see you all in the next video!