Hello fellow space enthusiasts! A lot happened regarding space in the past few days, a few breaking records and making history.
The first notable thing is the New Shepard launch made by Blue Origin, or NS-16. This launch made history by marking the first private space tourist launch (more importantly, it is the second space tourist launch, the first done by Virgin Galactic). The launch also broke four records: The oldest person in space (Wally Funk ), the youngest person in space (Oliver Daemen ), the richest person in space (Jeff Bezos [$203.4B), and the most experienced pilot in space (Wally Funk [19,600hrs]). This was also the first crewed mission of the New Shepard capsule + launcher. The NS-16 mission marked the 16th launch of the New Shepard booster, and the 15th successful landing of the booster. To see more about this launch, see my other post, Jeff Bezos is Going to Space. You can watch the Live replay Here
If you have been keeping up to date with SpaceX, you will know about their Starship program. This huge behemoth stands at 120 meters tall (393 ft), and has 29 engines on the first stage! Starship's goal is to make a fully reusable, rapid turnaround, human rated spacecraft capable of going to Mars. Yeah. Elon and his company have already landed 2 prototypes (one of which blew up afterward), and started a rapid production facility, as well as building a launch tower (the tallest building in South Texas), and a launch pad. Ship 20 and Booster 4 will launch into orbit, than land in the ocean softly, to then be recovered (maybe). To make sure Booster 4 can be launch ready, SpaceX needs to test on Booster 3. they have been, in the form of pressure testing and cryo proofing (filling the tanks with LN2). Then, out of the blue, the team started attaching raptor engines to the booster. On Tuesday, the booster started filling up with Methane and Oxygen and lit up its engines for 3 seconds. A short burn like this is called a static fire, where the vehicle is pinned down, and fires its engines. You can view the Static Fire, and an animation of the Booster 4/Ship 20 launch.
The International Space Station, a wonderful place to do science, go to space, and live in space. The last time the ISS got an expansion was in 2009 for JAXA's Kibo Module. This will change, very soon in fact. The Nauka module (meaning Science) launched today (Wed the 21st). This module is made in Russia and launched on the Proton rocket, a very reliable Russian rocket used to launch cargo to specific Earth orbits. On board the module is science equipment (suiting its name very well) and cargo. There is another important object tagging along, the ERA, or European Robotic Arm. Its name describes itself, it is a robotic arm used to move things around made in Europe. The arm can be controlled from outside the spacecraft while astronauts are on spacewalks. This helps because there does not need to be another crew member controlling it from the inside. The launch can bee seen here, I recommend turning on subtitles and translating it to english... unless you speak Russian.
Thank you for joining me, and as always, keep sharing the passion of space with everyone!