What Did SpaceX Change & Upgrade For Starship's 3rd Flight Test?

Everyday Astronaut
11 Mar 202408:51

Summary

TLDRThe upcoming third full stack flight test of Starship is anticipated with significant upgrades to both the hardware and mission profile. The launchpad has seen enhancements for faster propellant loading, and the rocket itself has undergone 17 improvements following the second flight's mishap report. Booster 10 and Ship 28 have received various exterior, software, and engine control upgrades to enhance performance and safety. The mission aims to demonstrate the opening of the payload bay, a Starlink dispenser function, and a space propellant transfer, which is a key milestone for NASA's Artemis Program. The test flight's success is crucial for the progress of Starship and its future lunar missions.

Takeaways

  • ๐Ÿš€ Starship's third full stack flight test is approaching, with significant upgrades made to both the hardware and the flight profile.
  • ๐Ÿ› ๏ธ Launchpad and stage zero infrastructure have seen major improvements, reducing propellant loading times for both the booster and the ship.
  • ๐Ÿ”ง The FAA has approved SpaceX's mishap report, leading to 17 upgrades to address issues from Starship's second flight.
  • ๐Ÿš€ Booster 10 has undergone both external and software changes, including a return to the previous grid fin design and improved data connections.
  • ๐Ÿš€ Ship 28 features substantial upgrades over its predecessor, including electric actuators for thrust vector control and enhanced fire prevention measures.
  • ๐Ÿ›ฐ๏ธ Ship 28 now has four Starlink dishes for improved data transmission and attitude control.
  • ๐ŸŒŸ The mission for IFT-3 includes a non-welded payload bay, a Starlink dispenser, and a planned attempt to relight a Raptor engine in space.
  • ๐ŸŒ The landing target has shifted from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean near Australia, with a larger reentry corridor.
  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ SpaceX is attempting a propellant transfer in space as part of a NASA contract, with a successful test worth $53 million.
  • ๐ŸŒ™ The Artemis program and NASA have high expectations for Starship, as it is crucial for future human lunar landings.

Q & A

  • What is the significance of Starship's third full stack flight test?

    -The third full stack flight test is significant because it involves substantial upgrades and changes to the hardware, flight profile, and mission of Starship, which is intended to be the world's biggest and most powerful rocket ever flown.

  • What improvements have been made to the launchpad and stage zero infrastructure?

    -The launchpad has seen significant upgrades, including the ability to load LOX and methane more quickly, the addition of coolers and pumps, new tanks for future flights, and heat reinforcement on the launch mount and tower to reduce refurbishment time.

  • How have the loading times for propellants improved compared to previous flights?

    -Loading times have improved dramatically, with LOX loading on the booster reduced to under 40 minutes and methane to 41 minutes, compared to an hour and 37 minutes previously. Similarly, the ship's LOX loading time has been cut to 53 minutes and methane to 51 minutes, down from an hour and 17 to 13 minutes before.

  • What changes were made to the booster and ship in response to the second flight's mishap report?

    -SpaceX listed 17 upgrades to address issues from the second flight. There are ten upgrades for the ship and seven for the super heavy booster, including changes to the grid fins, Starling terminals, common dome design, stability mount, and software and engine control algorithms.

  • How has Ship 28 been upgraded compared to its predecessor, Ship 25?

    -Ship 28 has seen numerous upgrades, including a different stacking order to reduce rigging time, Raptors with electric actuators for thrust vector control, tweaks to prevent fires, changes to oxygen vents, and an operable payload door instead of a welded shut one.

  • What are the mission changes for Starship's third flight test compared to the second?

    -The third flight will see the payload bay not welded shut, a Starlink dispenser installed, an attempt to relight a Raptor engine in space, a shorter trajectory with a landing in the Indian Ocean near Australia, and an attempt to transfer propellant between tanks in space as part of NASA's 'Tipping Point' contract.

  • Why is the landing location for Starship's third flight test different from previous flights?

    -The change in landing location to the Indian Ocean near Australia accommodates the uncertainty surrounding the Raptor relight test and provides a more remote location for reentry, adding margin to the profile.

  • What is the importance of the propellant transfer test during the third flight?

    -The propellant transfer test is crucial as it is part of a contract with NASA to demonstrate technology for the Artemis Program's Starship Human Landing System. Successfully completing this test is worth $53 million and involves transferring cryogenic propellant between tanks in space, a feat not commonly achieved on such a scale.

  • What are Tim Dodd's expectations for the third flight test?

    -Tim Dodd hopes to see the booster safely return for a soft water landing, the ship complete its main burn, and successfully demonstrate relight door operations and propellant transfer. He is cautiously optimistic about the ship surviving reentry.

  • How does SpaceX plan to enhance the live streaming experience for the Starship launch?

    -SpaceX plans to enhance the live streaming experience by providing an end-to-end 4K stream, making upgrades to ensure an incredible viewing experience, and offering access to a 4K multi-view clean feed for Patreon supporters, YouTube members, and X subscribers.

  • What is the current status of Starship production in relation to future flights?

    -There are no shortages of rockets in production, with multiple vehicles being built and waiting for their chance to fly. This indicates that despite the importance of the third flight test, there are backup plans and continued progress in Starship development.

Outlines

00:00

๐Ÿš€ Starship's Upcoming Flight Test and Upgrades

The video discusses the imminent third full stack flight test of Starship, following the successes of the first two tests. The third flight, involving Booster 10 and Ship 28, has seen significant upgrades to both hardware and software, as well as changes to the flight profile and mission. Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, provides an overview of these enhancements, including improvements to the launchpad infrastructure, which now allows for faster loading of propellants. The rocket itself has undergone 17 upgrades, with ten for the ship and seven for the super heavy booster, addressing issues from the previous flight. Changes include modifications to the grid fins, Starling terminals, common dome design, and stability mount. The booster's software and engine control algorithms have been updated for better performance. Ship 28 features a redesigned engine compartment with electric actuators, improvements for fire prevention, and an operable payload door. The mission for IFT 3 includes a non-deployed payload and a planned propellant transfer in space, a key milestone for NASA's Artemis Program's Starship Human Landing System.

05:01

๐ŸŒŒ Starship's Mission Changes and Expectations

This paragraph delves into the changes in the mission for Starship's upcoming flight test. Unlike previous suborbital missions, this one will not deploy a payload but will attempt to relight a Raptor engine in space, practicing either a prograde or retrograde maneuver. The landing location has shifted to the Indian Ocean near Australia, with a larger reentry corridor to accommodate the Raptor relight test. The ship is expected to perform a belly flop landing without a propulsive flip maneuver due to uncertainties about surviving reentry. The mission also includes a critical propellant transfer test in space for NASA's Artemis Program. Tim Dodd expresses his hopes for the flight, including a successful return of the booster and completion of the main burn and demonstrations. He acknowledges the test vehicle's purpose and the ongoing production of rockets, emphasizing the importance of progress towards Starship's ambitious goals, especially with NASA's Artemis program depending on its success for lunar landings.

Mindmap

Keywords

๐Ÿ’กStarship

Starship is a fully reusable spacecraft being developed by SpaceX, designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond. In the context of the video, it is the main subject of discussion, with a focus on its upcoming third full stack flight test and the upgrades made to improve its performance.

๐Ÿ’กBooster 10

Booster 10 refers to the specific iteration of the Starship booster that is part of the third full stack flight test. It has undergone substantial upgrades and changes to enhance its capabilities and address issues from previous tests.

๐Ÿ’กShip 28

Ship 28 is the spacecraft component of the Starship system that is being tested alongside Booster 10. It represents an advancement from previous iterations, with significant upgrades to its thrust vector control system and other features aimed at improving safety and functionality.

๐Ÿ’กFlight Profile

The flight profile refers to the planned trajectory and maneuvers of the spacecraft during its flight test. It includes details such as the launch, ascent, main burn, and landing phases, and any specific objectives or demonstrations planned for the mission.

๐Ÿ’กPropellant Loading

Propellant loading is the process of filling the rocket's tanks with the necessary fuel and oxidizer for the flight. The efficiency and speed of this process are crucial for the operational readiness and turnaround time between flights.

๐Ÿ’กRaptor Engine

The Raptor engine is a cryogenic liquid methane and liquid oxygen rocket engine developed by SpaceX, specifically designed for the Starship and Super Heavy launch vehicle. It is a critical component of the spacecraft, providing the thrust needed for various phases of the flight.

๐Ÿ’กHeat Shield

A heat shield is a protective layer designed to withstand and dissipate the extreme heat generated during reentry into Earth's atmosphere. For spacecraft like Starship, the heat shield is crucial for protecting the vehicle and its occupants from the intense temperatures encountered during reentry.

๐Ÿ’กStatic Electricity Discharge

Static electricity discharge refers to the process of releasing accumulated static charge, which can be a hazard for spacecraft, especially during launch and reentry. Proper discharge systems are essential to prevent potential damage or ignition of the propellant.

๐Ÿ’กPropellant Transfer

Propellant transfer is the process of moving fuel and oxidizer between different tanks or components within a spacecraft. This is a critical technology for long-duration space missions, as it allows for efficient use of resources and can be part of maneuvers to adjust the spacecraft's trajectory or prepare for landing.

๐Ÿ’กArtemis Program

The Artemis Program is NASA's initiative to return humans to the Moon and establish a sustainable presence there. It involves a series of missions, including the development of the Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion spacecraft, and lunar landers, with the goal of conducting crewed missions to the lunar surface.

๐Ÿ’กBelly Flop Landing

A belly flop landing is a type of uncontrolled, non-powered descent where a spacecraft or vehicle impacts the water or surface without the use of its engines to slow down or control its descent. This term is often used to describe the planned water landing of the Starship after reentry, which is a high-velocity and high-risk maneuver.

Highlights

Starship's third full stack flight test is approaching, following the success of the first two tests.

Substantial upgrades have been made to the hardware, flight profile, and mission for the third flight with Booster 10 and Ship 28.

Launchpad and stage zero infrastructure have seen significant upgrades, reducing propellant loading times for both the booster and ship.

The FAA has approved SpaceX's mishap report, leading to 17 upgrades to address issues from Starship's second flight.

Booster 10 features external design changes, such as grid fins and a new common dome design.

Ship 28 has undergone extensive upgrades, including a change to electric actuators for thrust vector control and improvements to prevent fires.

Ship 28's aft flaps have been strengthened, and the oxygen tank has been reinforced with new stringers.

The propellant tank vents on Ship 28 have been repositioned, and the nose vents now feature a unique design.

Starship's payload door is operable in the third flight, a change from being welded shut in previous missions.

The mission for IFT-3 includes a plan to open the payload bay and attempt a raptor engine relight in space.

Starship aims to land in the Indian Ocean near Australia, a change from previous missions' landing sites.

SpaceX will attempt to transfer propellant in space, a critical technology for the Artemis Program's Starship Human Landing System.

The success of the propellant transfer test could be worth $53 million for SpaceX as part of NASA's 'Tipping Point' contract.

Despite the upgrades and changes, this is still a test flight, and the outcome's impact on future missions is significant.

The live stream for the launch has been upgraded to 4K, offering a high-quality viewing experience for the audience.

Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, provides an overview of the upgrades and shares his thoughts and expectations for the upcoming flight.

Transcripts

00:00

- Starship's third full stack flight test is just

00:02

around the corner and with the first two tests,

00:05

achieving some merits of success and progress.

00:08

The third flight with Booster 10

00:09

and Ship 28 has made some pretty substantial upgrades

00:13

and changes to not only the hardware,

00:15

but also the flight profile and the mission itself.

00:18

I'm Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut,

00:19

and today I just wanted to do a really quick overview

00:22

of these changes and upgrades as we prepare

00:24

for what's always guaranteed to be an exciting launch

00:27

of the world's biggest

00:28

and most powerful rocket ever flown. Let's get started.

00:42

- Let's start off with the launchpad

00:43

and the stage zero infrastructure

00:45

because there have been some huge

00:46

upgrades since the last flight.

00:47

SpaceX can now load LOX on the booster in less than 40

00:51

minutes, and methane in 41 minutes, both took about an hour

00:54

and 37 minutes before,

00:56

and now they can load LOX on the ship in 53 minutes

00:59

instead of an hour and 13 minutes

01:01

and methane in 51 minutes instead of one hour

01:04

and 17 minutes.

01:06

These are ridiculous fill rates,

01:07

considering it's about 10 times more propellant

01:09

and fills it into similar time to a Falcon 9.

01:12

Thanks to additional coolers

01:13

and pumps, there are some new tanks

01:15

that will be used on future flights to help

01:17

with additional storage needs.

01:18

The pad also received a few upgrades

01:20

and additional heat reinforcement on the launch mount

01:22

and tower, and a few small tweaks here

01:24

and there to hopefully reduce refurbishment

01:26

time between flights.

01:27

Okay, onto the rocket itself,

01:29

the FAA has signed off on SpaceX's mishap report on

01:32

Starhip's second flight, which ended in both the ship

01:35

and the booster being terminated.

01:37

SpaceX listed 17 upgrades to the ship

01:39

and booster that would address the issues

01:41

that cropped up during IFT-2.

01:43

There's ten upgrades and changes for the ship

01:45

and seven for the super heavy booster.

01:47

So here's a quick overview of some

01:49

of those changes on the booster.

01:50

There's a few noticeable changes on the outside.

01:53

First off, you may notice the grid fins on Booster 10 look

01:55

different than Booster 9,

01:57

but SpaceX actually walked back a small design change

02:00

and returned to the grid Fin design from prior vehicles

02:02

removing a small strip along the outer edge,

02:05

there have been upgrades to the Starling terminals

02:06

that will hopefully help improve data

02:08

connections to the vehicle.

02:09

There's a slightly different common dome design

02:11

that's debuting on Booster 10 that's more rounded

02:13

and less rampy.

02:15

There's a small tweak to the stability mount that they use

02:17

during lifting, and there's likely some changes

02:19

to filtration and potentially slosh baffles in the booster

02:22

as some kind of blockage in the oxygen line of a raptor.

02:25

was the demise of Booster 9

02:27

but the booster will mostly see changes in software

02:29

and engine control algorithms that should help.

02:32

It better cope with the flip maneuver after hot staging.

02:35

While the booster doesn't seem to have a ton

02:37

of notable hardware changes,

02:38

S 28 is quite a bit upgraded over its predecessor S 25.

02:43

In fact, IFT-2 which flew Booster 9

02:46

and Ship 25 was a bit of a mismatch

02:48

as S 25 was already a fairly outdated vehicle

02:52

design when it flew.

02:53

In fact, Ship 28 started life completely differently when it

02:56

was stacked in reverse order from top down,

02:59

which allowed the vehicle to always be attached

03:01

to the crane, reducing rigging time during construction.

03:04

It also finally caught up to its booster friend by upgrading

03:07

to Raptors that have electric actuators

03:09

for its thrust vector control system.

03:11

Instead of the older hydraulic ones.

03:13

This greatly tidied up the engine compartment

03:16

and helps reduce the risk of fire,

03:18

which fire reduction risks is generally another upgrade.

03:21

S 28 has many tweaks

03:22

and changes to help prevent fire on the vehicle, which is

03:25

what took down S 25.

03:27

There's also just the simple change

03:28

to not dump oxygen in the same manner, which is

03:31

what helped feed the fire onboard S 25.

03:34

The oxygen vents inside the aft skirt have changed

03:37

and it speculated their angle could help

03:39

with attitude control as well.

03:41

More obvious changes on the outside include some changes

03:43

to the heat shield placement

03:45

and pattern similar to the booster.

03:47

It also gets a mighty upgrade

03:49

with Starlink dishes now featuring four dishes instead

03:52

of one, which again will help provide better data

03:54

and hopefully get us some beautiful

03:56

views while it's in space.

03:57

The flaps added some small static wicks

03:59

to help discharge static electricity.

04:01

Side note, the front flaps are actually older than S 25.

04:04

They were taken off of S 22, which never flew.

04:07

S 28's aft flaps have beefier mounting points compared

04:10

to S 25 and the body has been strengthened

04:13

with 24 new reinforcement stringers inside the oxygen tank.

04:17

Another fairly obvious change between S 25

04:19

and S 28 is the vents on the propellant tanks.

04:21

A bunch of them have moved in location

04:23

and the cowbell style thruster ish vents have completely

04:26

been removed from the middle of the ship

04:28

and now the nose vents do feature

04:30

that cowbell style thruster-ish vent.

04:32

But maybe the coolest change we see on S 28 is something

04:35

that I've been waiting to see

04:36

for a long time on one of these tests.

04:38

S 28 finally has its payload door operable instead

04:41

of being welded shut, which brings us

04:43

to the changes in the mission

04:44

that we will hopefully see occur on IFT 3.

04:47

And there's actually some fairly large changes

04:50

that are completely different from IFT 2 with

04:53

that payload bay not welded shut.

04:55

It means we're hopefully going to see it open a little more

04:57

than three minutes after ship engine shutdown at 11 minutes

05:01

and 56 seconds, there is a Starlink dispenser installed,

05:05

but since this is a suborbital mission,

05:07

there will be no payload actually deployed

05:09

Then we'll hopefully see another first first with Starship.

05:12

They plan to try and relight a raptor engine in space.

05:15

Now at the moment we don't know if they will do this

05:17

prograde or retrograde

05:19

so either slightly extending its reentry location

05:22

or slightly shortening it

05:24

but I'd speculate they'd want to practice a retrograde

05:27

deorbit burn, but we'll have to wait and see.

05:29

This time, instead of making about three quarters through

05:32

an orbit and then landing in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii,

05:34

Starship is now targeting a good bit shorter trajectory

05:37

and it will land in the Indian Ocean near Australia.

05:40

The reenter corridor is fairly large

05:42

and I'm guessing it's that big,

05:43

so they can accommodate whether

05:44

or not Starship completes that Raptor relight test as

05:47

to why exactly they're aiming shorter than before.

05:49

We don't really know the difference

05:51

between the two points is marginal in terms

05:53

of total velocity, so perhaps just reentering in a bit more

05:57

of a remote location is preferred

05:59

and it just adds a touch more margin to the profile.

06:02

The ship will still just do a belly flop landing

06:04

as there appears to be no attempt at a propulsive flip

06:07

maneuver likely

06:08

because they're just not even sure if it's going

06:10

to survive reentry.

06:11

So they might as well wait to try

06:13

and program all those maneuvers

06:14

until they know the ship can make it back in one piece.

06:16

Lastly, one more exciting change is

06:18

that SpaceX will be attempting to transfer propellant

06:20

between a header tank and a main tank wall in space.

06:23

This is part of the "Tipping Point" contract for NASA

06:26

to demonstrate this technology for a milestone

06:28

for the Artemis Program's Starship Human Landing System.

06:31

While propellant transfer isn't new,

06:32

it's usually done in a relatively small amount

06:35

between two vehicles like the ISS

06:37

and a resupply vessel like ROSCOSMOS' Progress vehicle,

06:40

which is a hypergolic propellant

06:42

and not cryogenic propellant like on Starship,

06:45

successfully completing this test is worth $53 million.

06:48

So we really hope they nail this one,

06:50

but that's pretty much everything.

06:52

Okay, so now for my thoughts

06:53

and expectations at this point,

06:56

you can tell SpaceX has higher expectations than before

07:00

and they should because it's really to the point now

07:02

where this vehicle needs

07:03

to start honing in on achieving some of its lofty goals.

07:07

But of course, do keep in mind

07:08

that this is still just a test vehicle and a test flight.

07:11

So it's not detrimental if this would fail spectacularly

07:14

again, because of course there's no shortage

07:16

of rockets in production waiting for their chance to fly.

07:19

However the clock is ticking,

07:20

and of course, NASA needs this rocket in order

07:23

to land humans on the moon for the Artemis program.

07:25

So yeah, it's it's time to start, you know, seeing progress

07:29

and getting closer and closer to some

07:31

of those big milestones.

07:32

So personally, I hope we see the booster safely come back

07:35

and do a landing burn for a soft water landing.

07:38

I think that'd be great.

07:40

I also hope the ship gets through its main burn

07:42

and completes its three demonstrations

07:44

of relight door operations and propellant transfer.

07:47

If it does survive reentry, that'd be awesome,

07:49

but for that one, I'm a little more 50 / 50.

07:52

But what do you think?

07:54

Do you think it's going to do better than last time?

07:56

About the same? What are your expectations?

07:59

Let me know your thoughts or your

08:00

questions in the comments below.

08:02

And don't forget to join us live

08:03

whenever this thing launches.

08:04

We already have our 4K live stream up,

08:07

which I think we're the only true end-to-end 4K Stream

08:11

available since SpaceX no longer streams on YouTube.

08:15

Our last stream was amazing, honestly,

08:17

and we've made even more upgrades

08:19

and spent hundreds of hours literally working

08:22

to make this next stream incredible.

08:24

So I hope we see you there.

08:26

And now it'd be a great time to consider becoming a Patreon

08:28

supporter, a YouTube member,

08:29

or an X subscriber, so you can get access

08:32

to our 4K multi-view clean feed,

08:34

and you can have your very own mission control in your own

08:36

house on launch day.

08:38

That's gonna do it for me. I'm Tim Dodd,

08:39

the Everyday Astronaut bringing space down to earth

08:42

for everyday people.