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Another Starship Test Ends in an Explosion – Universe Today

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Today, SpaceX experienced another explosion at their South Texas Launch Site in Boca Chica, Texas. Once again, the explosion occurred during a cryogenic pressure test, where a prototype was pressurized with liquid nitrogen to see how it held up. This time around, it was the test tank for the 7th Starship prototype (SN7), which was being deliberately pressurized to the point where it would fail – aka. “tested to failure”.

This was the second cryogenic pressure test to failure with the SN7 test tank, the previous of which took place about a week ago (June 15th, 2020). The purpose was to test a new type of stainless steel (Steel 304L) and a new manufacturing technique SpaceX has been trying out. By testing this steel to failure with their test tank, they intend to find out if it is a better fit for the final Starship design than the 300 series they’ve been using until now.

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Much like the test that happened on June 15th, the second pressure test took place in the morning after ambient testing was completed the night before. After popping a leak in the upper dome, the tank exploded, releasing liquid nitrogen and ice particles also across the facility. The test tank was then repaired and resealed so it could undergo a second round of ambient and pressure testing last night and this morning.

This latest test was captured by the many live streams that monitor the Boca Chica testing facility twenty-four hours a day, which includes NASA Spaceflight’s own Mary Pointer (aka. @BocaChicaGal). The live stream event also featured a panel NASA Spaceflight members, including Chris Bergin (@Chris B), Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer), Das Valdez (@KSpaceAcademy), and Michael Baylor (@nextspaceflight).

Things began in earnest about an hour later with the test tank releasing liquid nitrogen from its top, which slowly intensified. Almost three hours and after live coverage began (2h53m24s), the panel noticed an unusual amount of liquid nitrogen venting from the test tank following by nitrogen ice falling off the tank walls. Speculation began that the tank had sprung a leak, as with the previous test.

At 11:37 am, almost three hours after the live stream event began (2h59m21s), Mary can be heard saying “and there it goes!” The tank burst from the bottom, hopped about ten meters (33 ft) into the air, and then collapsed on its side. The entire facility was covered in heavy clouds of icy nitrogen particles, which began cascading outwards from the site.

Chris tweeted news of the explosion shortly thereafter via NASA Spaceflight’s official Twitter feed, showing a fourteen-second clip of the explosion with the caption: “RIP SN7 Test Tank. Thanks for the data!” A little while later, the panel confirmed that the test tank had traveled vertically as a result of the explosion, prompting the cheeky observation: “10 meter hop. Hopper: Nice try, Junior!”

This, of course, is a reference to the Starship Hopper (aka. Starhopper) vehicle, which completed hop testing last summer. These tests, where a single Raptor engine was integrated into a scaled-down prototype, concluded with the Starhopper successfully flying to an altitude of 150 m (500 ft), moving laterally, and then making a soft landing on another pad.

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Like the repeated tests using SN hull prototypes, the purpose here is to test the technology and manufacturing methods that will go into the creation of the Starship and Super Heavy launch system. This rapid-prototyping iterative approach allows SpaceX to rigorously check all the different elements of the flight system before flight tests beings.

Once they are confident that an SN can pass muster, SpaceX hopes to conduct a 150 m (500 ft) hop testing with a single-engine prototype. Once that is complete, the company will proceed with a 20 km (12 mi) hop test – as well as a supersonic reentry and controlled landing – using a three-engine prototype.

Alongside the development of the Super Heavy booster, this will be the last step before a full-scale orbital flight using six Raptor engines takes place, followed by the finalizing of the Starship‘s design and the start of commercial production.

Further Reading: Twitter

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UAE's Mars orbiter launch from Japan delayed by weather – ThePeterboroughExaminer.com

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TOKYO – The liftoff of the United Arab Emirates’ Mars orbiter was postponed until Friday due to bad weather at the Japanese launch site.

The orbiter named Amal, or Hope, is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. The launch was scheduled for Wednesday from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan, but the UAE mission team announced the rescheduled date on Twitter.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-IIA rocket will carry UAE’s craft into space. Mitsubishi launch official Keiji Suzuki had said on Monday a postponement was possible as intermittent lightning and rain were forecast over the next few days.

Heavy rain has fallen for more than a week in large areas of Japan, triggering mudslides and floods and killing more than 70 people, most of them on the southern main island of Kyushu.

Hope is set to reach Mars in February 2021, the year the UAE celebrates 50 years since its formation. A successful Hope mission would be a major step for the oil-dependent economy seeking a future in space.

Hope carries three instruments to study the upper atmosphere and monitor climate change and is scheduled to circle the red planet for at least two years.

Emirates Mars Mission Project Director Omran Sharaf, who joined Monday’s briefing from Dubai, said the mission will provide a complete view of the Martian atmosphere during different seasons for the first time.

Two other Mars missions are planned in coming days by the U.S. and China. Japan has its own Martian moon mission planned in 2024.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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UAE’s Mars orbiter launch from Japan delayed by weather – 570 News

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TOKYO — The liftoff of the United Arab Emirates’ Mars orbiter was postponed until Friday due to bad weather at the Japanese launch site.

The orbiter named Amal, or Hope, is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. The launch was scheduled for Wednesday from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan, but the UAE mission team announced the rescheduled date on Twitter.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-IIA rocket will carry UAE’s craft into space. Mitsubishi launch official Keiji Suzuki had said on Monday a postponement was possible as intermittent lightning and rain were forecast over the next few days.

Heavy rain has fallen for more than a week in large areas of Japan, triggering mudslides and floods and killing more than 70 people, most of them on the southern main island of Kyushu.

Hope is set to reach Mars in February 2021, the year the UAE celebrates 50 years since its formation. A successful Hope mission would be a major step for the oil-dependent economy seeking a future in space.

Hope carries three instruments to study the upper atmosphere and monitor climate change and is scheduled to circle the red planet for at least two years.

Emirates Mars Mission Project Director Omran Sharaf, who joined Monday’s briefing from Dubai, said the mission will provide a complete view of the Martian atmosphere during different seasons for the first time.

Two other Mars missions are planned in coming days by the U.S. and China. Japan has its own Martian moon mission planned in 2024.

___

Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press

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UAE postpones Mars mission due to weather at Japan launch site – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Lisa Barrington

DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates has postponed to July 17 the launch of its mission to Mars due to weather conditions at the launch site in Japan, the UAE government communications office said on Tuesday.

The UAE’s Hope Probe was due to set off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center at 12:51am UAE time on Wednesday (2051 GMT Tuesday) for a seven-month journey to the red planet where it was due to orbit and send back data about the atmosphere.

“The UAE’s space mission, the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission, will launch on Friday July 17, 2020 at 12:43am UAE time (July 16, 2020 at 8:43pm GMT) from Tanegashima Space Center,” the government communications office tweeted.

There are currently eight active missions exploring Mars; some orbit the planet and some land on its surface. China and the United States will send another two this year.

The UAE, an oil-exporting nation, first announced plans for the mission in 2014 as part of efforts to diversify away from hydrocarbons and develop a knowledge economy, aiming to reach the planet by 2021.

With a population of 9.4 million, most of whom are foreign workers, the UAE lacks the scientific and industrial base of the big space-faring nations. It launched a National Space Programme in 2017 to develop expertise in space science among Emiratis.

Emirati Hazza al-Mansouri became the first Arab in space in September 2019 in a flight to the International Space Station.

To develop and build the Hope Probe, Emiratis and Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) worked with U.S. educational institutions with space science expertise.

The UAE government has announced an ambitious goal of a Mars settlement by 2117.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Ed Osmond)

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