The Military Takeover: Pentagon Considering SpaceX's Starship? Launch Date For IFT3?

The Military Takeover: Pentagon Considering SpaceX's Starship? Launch Date For IFT3?

Show Video

It is getting close! SpaceX’s third Starship launch   in under two weeks! Can they do it? The Military is interested in   taking over Starship! What does it mean? SpaceX launches a capsule to the ISS. Wait,   this isn’t Dragon? And Rocket Lab recovers  another Booster! How’s this possible? My name is Felix. Welcome to What About It!?  Let’s dive right in! Starship Updates  It's only been two months since the last Starship  launch, and we're already on the brink of the   next one! SpaceX’s increase in launch cadence is a  result of hard work and ever-improving prototypes!  Curious about what's left to be done before  IFT-3? Follow me along as I explain it all!  Thankfully, the orbital launch  site withstood the second Starship   launch way better than the first one. Gone are the days of concrete chunks   scattered everywhere and the need  to replace half the launch mount. 

Did you know that refurbishing the site  has still not been a small feat though?  Recently, there have been some  indications that the work on the   Orbital Launch Table is nearing completion. They’re on the final stretch again!  The mount's legs, which had developed cracks  after the last liftoff, have been patched up,   and since then, the structure has endured one of  the most intense static fires we've seen to date.  At the end of January, the legs  received a fresh coat of paint,   meaning that work there is finished! Aerial views, possible thanks to Redline   Helicopter Tours, reveal that most of the  work on the clamps also seems to be finished,   with the blue tarp and chains that  once held some of them now removed.  However, there's still noticeable rust on the deck  and plenty of scaffolding around. This has to be  

sorted out before the next launch can occur. Currently, the focus is on beefing up the   infrastructure, aiming to minimize the  time needed for post-launch refurbishments.  Thick metal shields now almost entirely cover  the base of the tower, extending to the black   panels guarding the tower's interior. It’s turning into a super heavy turtle.   Closer to the tank farm, a weirdly  shaped section of concrete was removed.  At first sight, this might suggest  underground maintenance work,   but comparing this area with older photos  offers a clue suggesting something different.  The shape of the removed section aligns  with the spot where the sections of   concrete poured at different times meet. It appears that the removal of the concrete  

might be due to the development of cracks, which  could become a weak point during the next launch.  Crews are likely working to patch this up,  strengthening the area to prevent any issues.  At least, that’s our theory. Moving closer to the tank farm,   there's a noticeable increase in activity related  to the modernization of the entire system.  One significant task nearing completion  is reinforcing the water tank.  While not necessarily a requirement for the  third launch, adding stiffeners could help   prevent the Ground Support Equipment  shells from denting even further. 

It’s easier to address this  now rather than conduct   another set of repairs after the third launch. The most eye-catching changes by far are happening   on the liquid oxygen side of the farm. At the front are the LOX pumps,   followed by eight subcoolers. The stuff that kind of looks like a Robot hand.  These subcoolers or kettle reboilers are crucial  for super-cooling the oxidizer in the tanks using   cryogenic nitrogen to make them even denser. Previously, upon heating and transforming into   gas, the nitrogen was just released  from the top of the sub-coolers.  Did you know that SpaceX recently changed that? The outputs of the subcoolers have been linked   to manifolds in pairs of two, creating an  exhaust-like system that will redirect the   nitrogen behind the tank farm. This change is likely intended  

to enhance the durability of the equipment,  as constant exposure to cold nitrogen might   not be optimal for the hardware's longevity. A new wall has been erected beneath these new   pipes. This structure is a Shuttabloc system. A type of precast concrete retaining wall,   repurposed here to function  as a blast protection barrier.  The construction process for this  wall system is quite ingenious!  It involves purchasing ready-to-install  segments, which are then stacked side-by-side,   much like Lego bricks. The final step is to simply  

pour concrete around these segments and voilà,  a protection wall is set up in just a few days.  Another wall, serving the same protective  purpose, is nearing completion behind the   new horizontal cryogenic tanks. However, they still haven’t been   integrated into the farm, so this clearly  isn't an immediate priority for SpaceX.  It won’t be used during the third flight. Lastly, the mystery surrounding a peculiar tank,   first spotted by our photographer  John, has finally been solved.  When it arrived, it was clear that this wasn't a  cryogenic storage vessel, leading to speculation   that it might be intended for water storage. Aerial views have now confirmed this hypothesis. 

The tank has been insulated and mounted adjacent  to the power and communications building.  Pipes leading from this tank appear to connect  to what are likely industrial HVAC units,   suggesting the tank's primary function  is to store water for cooling purposes.  Additionally, it's possible that this water  supply could also feed the FireX system.  Looking at things from the bird's-eye  view can really tell you a lot about the   inner workings of Starbase. How about  you go see all of this for yourself? 

Book your own ride at Starbase and see  these things in person, or just enjoy one   of the most incredible views in the world. Go to! You'll find   the link in the description as well!  I promise you won’t ever forget this.  At the production site, the main focus is on  the next orbital pair, Ship 28 and Booster 10,   as they gear up for the upcoming launch. Ship 28 has been stationed at the engine   installation stand, where  the engine section has been   receiving some attention from SpaceX technicians. Turns out it’s not just a parking spot this time. 

Although it's somewhat concerning to witness  this level of activity there just two weeks   before launch, SpaceX has a track record  of swapping the engines remarkably quick.  Even though this is an additional step to  launch readiness, I wouldn’t worry too much.  Meanwhile, Booster 10 is almost ready! With its hot staging ring reattached,   workers have started to dismantle the  scaffolding around the methane tank access hatch.  This indicates that we might soon  witness the rollout of this Super   Heavy booster back to the launch site. Once both prototypes return, the remaining  

steps include stacking the rocket and conducting  a wet dress rehearsal, which is a test where both   stages are filled to the brim with propellant. After that, the rocket will be ready to launch.   That is after SpaceX obtains  the modified launch license.  We mentioned it before. Did you know that SpaceX  seems to be aiming for a launch on the 14th? We   should expect to see the full stack on the launch  pad roughly a week from now. A week! Excited?  What are your thoughts? Does a February launch  seem feasible, or are we more likely looking   at a delay until March? Get your crystal  balls out and share your predictions in   the comments. There’s more, though. While the third Starship launch is   getting the most attention, SpaceX  hasn't neglected its other vehicles. 

In fact, it appears that another  Booster is nearing completion.  Our recent footage captured a glimpse of the CO2  tank installed on Booster 13's liquid oxygen tank.  Interestingly, this time, the tank was installed  before the final stacking of the prototype.  In the past, this was done just after  the main assembly was completed.  These tanks are crucial for purging  the engine section during flight.  The inaugural flight of Starship revealed that  the original system was not powerful enough,   failing to prevent an onboard fire. However, since the first flight, this purge  

system has been upgraded to be ten times stronger,  explaining the larger size of these tanks.  The installation of these tanks  indicates that the two halves of   Booster 13 might soon be welded together. Over at the second Mega Bay, there's some   progress in equipping this facility with  the hardware needed to produce Ships.  The roof is finally receiving  its panels, and inside,   we can spot white legs positioned in the middle. These legs are likely to support a Ship Raptor   installation stand currently  located at the Sanchez site. 

And currently, Ship 29 is the  lone prototype in this Bay,   but it seems SpaceX may be planning a setup  similar to what's seen in the first Mega Bay.  That is, three work stands next to each  other, but this time dedicated to Ships.  And if you didn't know, this marks  the beginning of a rapid Starship   production era! Mass production is coming! With two Bays and the support of the Starfactory,   a production line will emerge where  Boosters and Ships can be ready for   launch just weeks after their conception. Parallel manufacturing is the secret sauce here!   Such an efficient production system is required,  as Starships won’t be used just to colonize Mars. 

Longtime viewers might recall the Rocket Cargo  program - an initiative by the United States   Space Force aimed at revolutionizing military  and humanitarian cargo delivery across the globe.  I know, this sounds crazy. But just  because it hasn’t been done yet,   it doesn’t mean that it won’t become  normal in the future. Keep that in mind. 

In 2022, SpaceX was awarded 102 million  dollars to demonstrate this capability.  Since then, the Department of Defense,  or short DoD, has become involved!  The Pentagon reportedly expressed  interest in taking over Starships.  Does this mean that the Starship program  is at risk of being classified? No.  Instead, it appears the US government is exploring  the possibility of temporarily renting Starships   for highly sensitive or potentially  hazardous missions. The Starship Uber.  This arrangement could involve the  Pentagon operating its own launch towers   and staff specifically for Starship missions.  Alternatively, it might mean borrowing  the vehicle along with the necessary   launch control infrastructure to  manage these missions independently. 

The reasoning behind this proposal seems to be the  extreme secrecy of certain missions, which might   require limiting involvement to Pentagon personnel  exclusively, excluding even SpaceX's own workers.  SpaceX has not publicly confirmed whether  they have agreed to this proposal.  However, from a financial perspective, such  an agreement could be quite beneficial.  Military contracts typically come with huge  amounts of money, and this could become a massive   revenue stream for the Starship program. This development raises some questions   about the use of commercial space  vehicles for military purposes. 

What are your thoughts on this? Should  Starship be used for military missions?   Feel free to share your views in the  comments down below. I love reading them!  Now, here’s a little task for you  before we continue with the news.  YouTube may have unsubscribed you without your  knowledge. This has happened to thousands of WAI   viewers, and it can happen frequently. Please  double-check that you’ve hit that subscribe   button so that you don’t miss our updates! While checking, hit the like button and   consider becoming a WAI supporter  for exclusive SpaceX updates. 

With it, you get access to daily Starbase  photo galleries, now including orbital,   aerial, and ground photos of SpaceX’s  progress and countless other extras on top.  And no matter how much you decide to give,  Everyone gets the same supporter content   and access! You decide what you want to give! Check our new website as well. Launch previews,   road closures, the latest weather  report, and our Multistream Viewer! -> <- The link to our Patreon page and the  new website is in the description!   Thanks to all the supporters who  help lift our production quality   to the next level! We can’t  thank you enough! You rock!  To all of my business-savvy  viewers: How safe is your data? As WAI Media's founder, I prioritize  our security, so I've collaborated   with NordPass– it's easy to use and far more  crucial than your typical password manager. How often do you share company passwords over  chat or email? Be honest! 64% of organizations   have productivity impacted due to access issues,  leading 53% to share credentials across teams.   While convenient, this poses exceptional  security risks, causing 1 in 10 small firms to   fall victim to cyber attacks annually. NordPass  guarantees simple and secure access anytime,  

fostering confidential team communication and  eliminating risks and guesswork in data sharing. Secure your business effortlessly  with a 3-month NordPass trial!   Don’t miss out- Use the activation  code "felix" at ! Say goodbye to password hassles and   welcome NordPass - Protecting  your business security needs! On we go! Are you still with me? Here’s the  next one! Staying on the topic of SpaceX,   we've just witnessed a collaboration  that no one would have thought possible   just a few years ago. A truly special day. On January 30th, a Falcon 9 rocket launched   from Florida's SLC-40, carrying a resupply cargo  mission to the International Space Station.  But Felix, we saw tons of Cargo Dragon missions  before. What’s so special about this one? 

How about it wasn’t a Cargo Dragon? Cygnus is an expendable cargo vehicle   manufactured by Northrop  Grumman with a rich history.  Selected alongside the original Dragon  for NASA's first Commercial Resupply   Services program - Cygnus has played a key  role in delivering supplies to the ISS,   reducing NASA's reliance on Russia and Europe. With a capacity of up to 3,000 kilograms or 6,600   pounds, Cygnus missions were typically  launched aboard the Antares rocket,   also developed by Northrop Grumman. Though that wasn’t always the case…  From 2015 to 2017, the company was transitioning  to a more powerful Antares 200 series. 

During this time, they used  Atlas V to launch their capsules.  The Cygnus program was progressing  quite smoothly, with NASA extending   the contract for missions through 2028. However, everything changed when Russia   invaded Ukraine. This conflict   impacted Cygnus in two significant ways. Firstly, the Antares rocket's first stage   was produced by Ukraine's Pivdenmash  factory, which was bombed last year.  Secondly, it also relied on Russian RD-191  engines, which became unavailable due to   economic sanctions imposed on Russia. No more Russian engines. Consequently,  

the last Cygnus mission on an  Antares 230+ launched in August 2023.  Northrop Grumman is now working with  Firefly to domestically produce an   upgraded Antares 300 series, but this new  rocket isn't expected to fly until 2025.  Meanwhile, the ISS still  requires regular resupply, right?  This urgent need led to Falcon 9 being  selected for three Cygnus missions.  While it might seem that Northrop  Grumman would be a competition to SpaceX,   the reality is that both have signed  long contracts for ISS delivery anyway.  Not to mention that SpaceX  has a simple philosophy.  You pay for the rocket - you can  put anything you want on top of it. 

Interestingly, for this mission, the  company had to modify Falcon 9’s fairing.  They’ve added a special door, enabling the  capability for last-minute cargo loading.  Despite the name, this feature isn't  just for last-minute additions - though   it can be used for that as well. It’s actually required for items that can't   be stored in the capsule for extended periods,  like, say, hamsters, hot coffee, or Ice Cream.  The launch itself was a textbook  success! The hamsters live!  Following a smooth separation, the Falcon 9 B1077  touched down at Landing Zone 1 for its tenth time. 

I watched it live, and the sonic  booms this time were unusually loud!  This particular livestream also provided  us with one of the most spectacular   views of a Falcon 9 booster’s return. Kudos to the SpaceX media team! You rock!  By the time you’re watching this, the capsule  has likely already arrived at the International   Space Station, where the Canadarm2 grabbed and  manually berthed it to the orbiting laboratory.  Adding to the excitement, this mission marked  SpaceX's tenth Falcon 9 launch in January   alone - a historic first for the company. It looks like they weren’t joking when  

they announced that their goal for 2024 is to  launch a whopping 144 times. Fingers crossed!  Let’s now turn our attention to Rocket Lab and  their incredible Electron and Neutron Rockets.  They've been eager to resume their  regular launch schedule following   a second-stage failure in September. After a return to form with a successful   launch in December, Rocket Lab continues its  momentum with the "Four of a Kind" mission. 

True to its name, the mission carried  four satellites, intriguingly named the   Low Earth Multi-Use Receiver, or LEMUR for short. That explains King Julien on their mission patch!  These compact, six-kilogram, or 13-pound  satellites are designed to monitor maritime,   aviation, and weather activities from orbit. During their latest mission, Rocket Lab was   able to recover the booster once more. You can tell if it’s a reusable variant   by the red accents and silver  paint on Electron's first stage. 

Pretty convenient. But this color scheme isn't  merely aesthetic. Do you know why? It's a critical   component in making recovery possible. Initially, Electrons weren't designed   with reusability in mind. In fact, Rocket Lab's CEO,   Peter Beck, was so skeptical about reusability  that he famously claimed he'd eat his hat if   they ever decided to recover an Electron. Believe it or not, he actually ate it!  To allow the Electron's first stage  to survive atmospheric reentry,   two major modifications were needed. The first upgrade was an extended carbon-composite  

shield, protecting the nine Rutherford engines  from the intense heat generated during reentry.  The second - the aforementioned silver  paint - is actually a thin layer of   aerogel mixed with graphite. Really high-tech stuff!  This coating forms a protective shell  around the booster, effectively insulating   the fuel tanks from taking the heat. Rocket Lab’s initial plan for recovery   involved the booster descending back to Earth  under a parachute, to be caught midair by a   helicopter and then placed on a boat. They gave it a try, but it proved too   dangerous for the pilot. It dangled wildly  and unpredictably under the helicopter. 

Consequently, the company moved on to a different  strategy - still using parachutes but allowing   the booster to splash down in the ocean. While this method isn't perfect - the   saltwater can easily destroy the booster if not  retrieved quickly - it seems to work just fine.  Following stage separation at  around 70 kilometers or 44 miles,   the booster's reaction control thrusters  reorient it for an optimal reentry trajectory.  As the first stage descends back to Earth, it can  reach staggering speeds of up to 8,300 kilometers   or 5,150 miles per hour and endure temperatures as  high as 2,400 degrees Celsius or 4,350 Fahrenheit. 

Very hot. Just five minutes after  separation, the booster, now at an   altitude of 13 kilometers or 8 miles, deploys  its drogue chute, followed by the main parachute.  This slows it down to a manageable 40 kilometers  or 25 miles per hour, allowing for a controlled   and safe splashdown in the ocean. Upon a successful touchdown,   a recovery vessel equipped with a specialized  mount is dispatched to retrieve the first stage.  To date, Rocket Lab has successfully recovered  seven boosters, with four recoveries achieved   after abandoning the helicopter catch approach. Notably, the company has already re-flown one  

of the recovered Rutherford engines. The next milestones on their roadmap   include reusing all nine engines and  eventually reflying an entire first stage.  However, this is only the beginning, as most of  the experience from Electron recovery will carry   over to Rocket Lab's medium-lift vehicle,  Neutron. And there is some big news here!  Announced in 2021, Neutron aims to rival  SpaceX's Falcon 9 thanks to first-stage recovery,   either through a return-to-launch-site  maneuver or via a floating platform.  I think I’ve seen this before. Propulsive landing! Throughout 2023, Rocket Lab has teased the space   community with snippets of Neutron's development. This included images and videos of test hardware  

and the cryogenic testing  of its second-stage tank.  At the same time, they're progressing on the  Archimedes engine, designed specifically for   Neutron, as well as the required infrastructure  at Launch Complex 3 on Wallops Island.  Recent updates include laying the  foundations for a water tower,   liquid oxygen storage tank,  and the launch mount itself. 

The maiden launch of Neutron  is officially slated for 2024.  However, given the current state of development,  it seems unlikely that this timeline will be met.  Nevertheless, Neutron is an exciting rocket  that will bring a breath of fresh air to the   launch market! I can’t wait to see it on the pad! That’s it for today! Remember to smash that like   button. Subscribe for more awesome content!  This is what fuels the Algorithm and helps us   immensely! Check out our epic shirts in your  favorite space nerd store! Link is in the   description. And if you want to train your space  IQ even further, watch this video next to continue  

your journey! Thank you very much for watching,  and we’ll see you again in the next episode!

2024-02-03 20:54

Show Video

Other news