UFO Buster Radio News – 384: Texas Offshore Rocket Action, Starlink Signup, and Rover Perseverance Launching Soon
SpaceX wants to build an offshore spaceport near Texas for Starship Mars rocket
SpaceX’s Mars-colonizing missions may not launch from terra firma.
Elon Musk’s space company is hiring “offshore operations engineers” to help develop floating spaceports for Starship, its next-gen transportation system designed to take people to and from the moon, Mars and anywhere on Earth they want to go.
“SpaceX is building floating, superheavy-class spaceports for Mars, moon & hypersonic travel around Earth,” Musk said via Twitter Tuesday (June 16), in response to a tweet that drew attention to the SpaceX hiring notice.
Musk also revealed some new details about the plan Tuesday. For example, a Twitter user asked if the offshore spaceports will be refurbished oil rigs, and if Starship passengers will be ferried out to them via Hyperloop, the vacuum-pod transportation idea that Musk proposed in 2012. The billionaire entrepreneur responded, “Pretty much.”
Musk also said that the offshore spaceports won’t exactly hug the coastline.
“We need to be far enough away so as not to bother heavily populated areas. The launch & landing are not subtle. But you could get within a few miles of the spaceport in a boat,” he said in another Tuesday tweet.
The landing he referenced is that of Super Heavy, the 31-engine first stage required to get the 100-passenger Starship off Earth’s surface. Super Heavy will come back down to Earth for a vertical touchdown shortly after liftoff, the way first-stage boosters of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets do now.
To date, just one Starship prototype has gotten off the ground: a stubby, single-engine craft called Starhopper, which made a few short test flights last year before being retired. But SpaceX is gearing up for an uncrewed test flight that will take the SN5 (“Serial No. 5”) prototype about 500 feet (150 meters) into the South Texas skies, if all goes according to plan.
SPACEX INTERNET SERVICE STARLINK ASKS FOR PEOPLE TO TRY IT OUT
SpaceX has announced that it is looking for beta testers for its Starlink low-earth orbit internet service.
There are currently 540 Starlink satellites in orbit. Eventually, they will form part of a 12,000-strong constellation to beam internet connectivity back to the planet.
Users visiting the Starlink website will now find that it invites them to “Get updates on Starlink news and service availability in your area” and input their email and area code.
When they do, they will receive an email stating: “Starlink is designed to deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable. Private beta testing is expected to begin later this summer, followed by public beta testing, starting with higher latitudes.”
“If you provided us with your zip code, you will be notified via email if beta testing opportunities become available in your area. In the meantime, we will continue to share with you updates about general service availability and upcoming Starlink launches.”
Elon Musk has previously described the device as a “UFO on a stick”.
Perseverance: NASA’s Mars 2020 rover
NASA’s next Mars rover won’t just explore the Red Planet; it will, the space agency hopes, help a little bit of Mars make it to Earth a decade or so from now.
Known as Perseverance, the upcoming rover will hunt for signs of habitable environments on Mars while searching for signs of past microbial life. The robotic traveler will also cache a series of samples that can be returned to Earth with a future mission.
Perseverance is the centerpiece of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, which is currently slated to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in July or August 2020, when Earth and Mars are positioned to require the least amount of power for interplanetary travel. It is scheduled to land on Feb. 18, 2021, with an initial mission duration of at least one Martian year, or 687 Earth-days.
The car-sized rover is about 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide, and 7 feet tall (about 3 meters long, 2.7 meters wide, and 2.2 meters tall). At 2,314 lbs. (1,050 kilograms), Perseverance weighs less than a compact car.
If photos and sketches of the Perseverance rover look familiar, that’s because the robotic explorer is largely based off its predecessor, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover (November 26, 2011, 9:02 AM CST). Roughly 85% of the new rover’s mass is based on this “heritage hardware.”
“The fact that so much of the hardware has already been designed — or even already exists — is a major advantage for this mission,” Jim Watzin, director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, said in a statement. “It saves us money, time and most of all, reduces risk.”
Perseverance will seek out biosignatures from the past on a microbial scale. A ground-penetrating radar will be the first rover instrument to look under the surface of Mars, mapping layers of rock, water and ice up to 30 feet (10 m) deep.
Mars 2020 launch slips three days. A launch vehicle processing “hiccup” has pushed back next month’s launch of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission by three days.
NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk revealed the delay in a presentation to a joint meeting of the National Academies’ Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and Space Studies Board June 9, SpaceNews reports.
A crane pain … Tory Bruno, ULA president and chief executive, said on Twitter that a problem with a crane used as part of launch vehicle processing caused the delay, an issue that has since been corrected. The delay pushed back the launch of Mars 2020 to July 20, with a two-hour window opening at 9:15am ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida. (submitted by whitenknave, Ken the Bin and JohnCarter17)
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