Hello fellow space enthusiasts! Welcome to Norminal News. I realized I have not posted in a while, and that is partly because there has not been much happening lately. Finally though, something happened.
This week, NASA launched another satellite for their longest running program. The Landsat Program has been running for over 50 years. The Landsat program was initially thought to be unnecessary, although as the first satellite launched, Landsat became seen as a very valuable program to the world. The program started with Landsat 1 in 1972, which recorded many pictures on a tape, which then replayed the tape and sent the pictures back to earth when it passed over mission control. The mission was successful until the tape recorder failed to work, and therefore ended the mission. Landsat 2 & 3 were pretty much the same as Landsat 1, with minor changes. The missions overlapped, so there was always one satellite in orbit. The satellites each took eight days to orbit every part of the earth, so every week or so there was new data to learn more about climate change, human impact, the world, and what other countries were doing. (At that time, that last one was the most important.) As Landsat 2 started showing age, Landsat 4 was launched with new technology, including a newer, higher resolution camera, and a new communication system that was supposed to communicate with NASA's new TDRS (Tracking Data Relay Satellite) satellites. The satellite soon encountered power problems and could not communicate to the ground, so it had to rely on the TDRS satellites that hadn't been put into operation yet. Landsat 4 was then decommissioned, and Landsat 5 launched quickly before Landsat 3 would no longer work. Landsat 5 went on to be the longest operational observation satellite in orbit, lasting 29 years. Landsat 6 was launched, but not successfully because of a ruptured tank. Landsat 7 has higher resolution cameras and a different structure, but other than that there are not many differences from Landsat 5. Landsat 7 is still in operation today and will continue to be until it is decommissioned. Landsat 8 has even higher resolution cameras, and was launched in 2013. At the launch of Landsat 9 on the Atlas 5 rocket, the even newer still satellite rests in its final orbit sending stunning pictures back to Earth. The launch took place on the 27th and was livestreamed here. A recap of the history of the Landsat missions, go here.
Moving on, SpaceX has passed some major milestones for its orbital launch either later this year or early next year. After Starship was stacked, Booster 4 and Ship 20 were parted and sent to the production area, a couple miles west. After that, the engines were removed from the vehicles and were sent back to McGregor, TX (SpaceX's engine development facility). The tested engines were then shipped back to Starbase and were reinstalled on the vehicles. Ship 20 then rolled back out to suborbital pad B, and then conducted tank proofing tests. Booster 4 was then rolled out and was put onto the orbital launch pad. The FAA released its Environmental Assessment for the launch site in Boca Chica. This assessment is about SpaceX's environmental impact of the surrounding area. In a short summary of what this 151 page paper says, the surrounding area of the SpaceX launch site in Boca Chica, TX is safe for all tests, including static fires, launches, proofing tests, and landings. The paper also considered future plans, sonic booms, restricted areas, sound levels, pollution levels, and light pollution levels. Now, if you want to read the whole paper, go ahead, but I recommend watching this 12 minute video instead. The paper has some diagrams including what SpaceX will be doing in the future (⬇). SpaceX seems to want to have a second orbital launch tower, a parking lot, a second landing pad, and more. The other diagram has proposed road pull-offs in the event that a rocket is being transported; people can pull off instead of closing the road. SpaceX currently has a solar farm that is generating about one megawatt. SpaceX wants to expand it to about 1.7 megawatts.
That is all for this week, thank you for coming!
Bringing the passion of space to the minds of dreamers