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SpaceX Starship prototype gets frosty for a launch attempt as early as this week – Teslarati

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Update: It appears that SpaceX has completed Starship SN10’s first cryogenic proof test campaign and the company lifted its road closure around 4:30 pm CST, signifying the end of Monday’s testing.

If Monday’s cryo proof was successful, SpaceX has requested possible static fire test windows on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (Feb 10-12), though it’s possible another window could be added on Tuesday, February 9th. If Starship SN10 is able to complete a flawless wet dress rehearsal (WDR) and static fire on Tuesday or Wednesday, there is a chance – albeit small – that SpaceX can turn the rocket and pad around for a launch attempt on Friday.

Unfortunately, the FAA also deemed it necessary to reissue SpaceX’s airspace restrictions with a note that SN10’s launch is still “pending [authorization],” adding additional bureaucratic uncertainty on top of the technical hurdles the Starship still needs to navigate to be cleared for flight.

In the midst of what appears to be Starship SN10’s first cryogenic proof test, SpaceX has filed temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) with the FAA for a third Starship launch as early as this week.

Effectively identical to late Starships SN8 and SN9, both of which suffered last-second failures that led to hard impacts and explosions on December 9th and February 2nd, Starship SN10 is a prototype steel rocket and reusable upper stage measuring 50m (165 ft) tall, 9m (30 ft) wide, and some 1350 metric tons (three million pounds) – about as much as Falcon Heavy – fully fueled.

Like its predecessors, Starship SN10 has been outfitted with a cluster of three Raptor engines producing up to 600 metric tons of thrust (~1.3M lbf) and was built as part of a series of four prototypes designed to prove out a new method of rocket recovery.

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As previously discussed on Teslarati, SpaceX unexpectedly distributed safety “alerts” to Boca Chica Village residents on Sunday, February 7th, an act that has only ever signified plans to (attempt to) static fire a Starship prototype. However, Starship SN10 has yet to even complete cryogenic proof testing, referring to a common practice SpaceX has used to verify vehicle health with liquid nitrogen, simulating the extreme cold of liquid methane and oxygen propellant without the risk of a violent fire or explosion.

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At the moment, SpaceX is in the middle of putting Starship SN10 through its first LN2 cryo proof attempt(s). SpaceX appeared to abort one attempt around 1:15 pm CST and has kicked off a second attempt around this article’s publishing time (~2 pm CST). If SN10 manages to pass a cryo proof in the early afternoon, there’s a chance – albeit limited – that SpaceX will then attempt to recycle for a live wet dress rehearsal (WDR; replacing LN2 with methane and oxygen) and possible static fire attempt later today.

Even attempting – let alone completing – an inaugural cryoproof and static fire on the same day would be an unprecedented feat, so it’s far more likely that the process will take a couple days. Even if that’s the case, however, it’s still possible that SpaceX could make Starship SN10 ready for another high-altitude launch attempt as early as this week. Stay tuned for updates!

SpaceX Starship prototype gets frosty for a launch attempt as early as this week




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Perseverance saw its own descent stage crash – EarthSky

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The Mars rover Perseverance captured a photo on February 18, 2021, of its own descent stage crashing onto Mars’ surface and triggering a plume of smoke. Image via NASA.

One of the coolest shots we’ve seen from Perseverance on Mars so far came from the day of its successful landing, February 18, 2021. Minutes after landing, Perseverance managed to look off into the distance and capture an image of its own descent stage crash landing on Mars’ surface.

What’s the descent stage? Its role in Perseverance’s landing was brief, but vital. The descent stage is the rocket-powered section that deployed after the parachute. It was needed in part because Mars’ atmosphere is so thin that parachutes alone can’t guarantee a soft-enough landing. The descent stage kept the rover steady just above Mars’ surface, as the rover was deployed to Mars’ surface via cables. The descent stage wasn’t designed to land safely. After deploying the rover, it flew some distance off and crashed itself. That’s what Perseverance captured in this image.

Perseverance is busy on Mars examining its environs and recording all that it sees. It reports its findings with an anthropomorphized – and adorable – Twitter account @NASAPersevere. Its tweet about the descent stage crash landing was one of its first.

Diagram of stages of rover's descent through Mars' atmosphere to the surface.

Artist’s concept illustrating Perseverance’s landing on Mars, via NASA.

As you may have heard by now – or realized yourself – Mars is the only planet we know that’s populated by robots! A total of 18 spacecraft have been put in orbit around Mars, eight of which are still operating. Of the Mars’ rovers sent to Mars’s surface, five are still operational: Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance.

One Mars orbiter, the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, also captured Perseverance on Mars’ surface, at its landing spot. It managed to find the rover and the pieces shed on descent, then tweeted an image:

The rover is near the bottom center of the image, with the heat shield a dark circular spot in the upper right, the descent stage to the left (and in the plume photo above), and the white parachute and back shell bright on the surface at far left. You can see from the overhead view the large ridge between the rover and the descent stage that the rover is looking toward in the top image.

Since 1960, nine countries have sent missions either to orbit Mars or attempt to land on its surface, and many of them have crashed and burned, quite literally.

February 2021 saw three missions successfully make it to Mars, both in orbit and on the surface. Perseverance was one. The other two were the UAE’s Hope mission and China’s Tianwen-1.

Graphic showing Mars and over 20 missions with successes and failures.

Many spacecraft have tried to land on Mars but few have succeeded. Image via Al Jazeera.

Bottom line: NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance tweeted a photo of the resulting plume of smoke from the impact of the descent stage.

Kelly Kizer Whitt

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BlackburnNews.com – Fireball flies over Chatham-Kent sky – BlackburnNews.com

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Fireball flies over Chatham-Kent sky

February 26, 2021 fireball (Screen capture via fireballs.ndc.nasa.gov)


If you witnessed a bright light flash across the sky Friday night in Chatham-Kent, you weren’t imagining things.

A fireball passed over the region around 10:07 p.m.

Peter Brown, a Western University professor, meteor scientist and planetary astronomer tweeted a video of the event. Brown described it as being “as bright as [the] full Moon.”

According to the NASA All Sky Fireball Network, observers in Ontario, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania reported seeing a bright fireball in the sky on Friday evening. The event was captured by several all-sky meteor cameras belonging to the NASA All Sky Fireball Network and the Southern Ontario Meteor Network operated by Western University.

According to NASA, an initial analysis of the video shows that the meteor appears 90 km above Erieau on the northern shore of Lake Erie. It moved northwest at a speed of 105,800 km per hour as it crossed the Canada-U.S. border before ending 32 km above Fair Haven, MI.

“At its brightest, the fireball rivalled the quarter Moon in intensity,” read a statement on the NASA All Sky Fireball Network. “Combining this with the speed gives the fragment a mass of at least 2 kilograms and a diameter of approximately 12 centimetres.”

It’s believed that the meteor was caused by a fragment of a Jupiter family comet although an asteroidal origin is also possible.

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Fireball flies over Chatham-Kent sky – BlackburnNews.com

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Fireball flies over Chatham-Kent sky

February 26, 2021 fireball (Screen capture via fireballs.ndc.nasa.gov)


If you witnessed a bright light flash across the sky Friday night in Chatham-Kent, you weren’t imagining things.

A fireball passed over the region around 10:07 p.m.

Peter Brown, a Western University professor, meteor scientist and planetary astronomer tweeted a video of the event. Brown described it as being “as bright as [the] full Moon.”

According to the NASA All Sky Fireball Network, observers in Ontario, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania reported seeing a bright fireball in the sky on Friday evening. The event was captured by several all-sky meteor cameras belonging to the NASA All Sky Fireball Network and the Southern Ontario Meteor Network operated by Western University.

According to NASA, an initial analysis of the video shows that the meteor appears 90 km above Erieau on the northern shore of Lake Erie. It moved northwest at a speed of 105,800 km per hour as it crossed the Canada-U.S. border before ending 32 km above Fair Haven, MI.

“At its brightest, the fireball rivalled the quarter Moon in intensity,” read a statement on the NASA All Sky Fireball Network. “Combining this with the speed gives the fragment a mass of at least 2 kilograms and a diameter of approximately 12 centimetres.”

It’s believed that the meteor was caused by a fragment of a Jupiter family comet although an asteroidal origin is also possible.

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