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Booster 4 Stacked With Ship 20, Perseverance Attempts Mars Sample, And Much More!

Hello fellow space enthusiasts! As you may have noticed, I took a weeklong break, and over that period of time, so many things have happened, So, let's get right into it!

Starship, as you may know, is a Behemoth. It stands at 395 feet tall, and is the tallest rocket to ever be stacked (more about that later). The first stage, Superheavy, is 230 feet tall, and has 29 engines! The first prototype, named booster 3 (or BN3) had no grid fins and did not fly. This was made as a sort of pathfinder to show that the tanks could hold up under pressure and that the engines can fire properly.

The next prototype, Booster 4 (but not BN4) has had all 29 engines installed; as you can see in this mind shattering shot below. Booster 4 is taking a big leap because, believe it or not, this will take the first Starship to orbit. And not just any old Starship, they will be taking Ship 20.

A shot of Booster 4's 29 Raptor engines

Ship 20 is important, because it will be the first Starship to travel faster than the speed of sound, be on a Superheavy booster, go into space, reenter the atmosphere, land propulsively from space, and to have a full thermal protection system (TPS) made to protect the tanks from the brutal heat of reentry. This launch will be essential for reentry data, launch data, and everything in between. The launch will break several records, including heaviest rocket in space, largest thing in space, and tallest rocket to ever launch. This launch will be nothing short of inspiring.

Ship 20 was stacked onto Booster 4 for around an hour before SpaceX took it off and sent it back to the production site. There, they took off the engines, presumably to test them back in McGregor, TX.

Ship 20 and Booster 4 fully stacked on the orbital launch pad in Boca Chica, TX

Now we move into the Martian side of things. The Mars 2020 rover, named Perseverance, was scheduled to take its first sample from the surface of Mars. The sample location was scouted out by the Ingenuity helicopter. The rover drove to the southern Séítah area in Jezero crater on Mars, and it then took out its drill and started drilling. The drill is a hollow shaft with teeth intended to pick up a circular core of the rock. The rock will then be transferred into a sample tube and will be inspected before being stowed in a storage compartment.

The drill did not function as planned, however. After the sample, a camera showed nothing in the sample tube. The bad thing about going to Mars is if something breaks, you can't just go out there and fix it, so you have to test everything correctly.

Thankfully, JPL engineers believe the drill is not malfunctioning or broken, it is drilling a different material than it was intended for. Scientists are

now working on looking for a second sample spot with better suited rock for the drill.

The borehole made by perseverance captured by the MastCam on the rover

One more thing to note, the Boeing Starliner capsule launch was delayed due to a problem on the ISS (internationational space station) when the Nauka module was docking. The problem occured when the spacecraft were syncing their systems, in order to treat the two spacecraft as one. The computer on the Nauka module thought it was supposed to undock with the station, even though it was still attached. As the module tried to pull away, the ISS began spinning, resulting in an emergency. The ground crews were able to stop the thrusters after a few rotations

A camera from the ISS shows the horizon spinning out of view after the Nauka module docked with the station. Small flecks of ice can be seen, these are from the thrusters on the module.

That's all for this week! Thanks for reading, and as always, keep sharing the passion of space with everyone!

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