Greetings, humans, and welcome to my 22nd log! I took an extremely long catnap the past week and I didn’t realize that I’ve been recharging myself for nearly two weeks. Starman and HAL had to catch me up with the latest news from Earth when I woke up, and I have to say, lots of things can happen on the Blue Planet in the span of one catnap!
I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the most interesting updates from Earth that I’ve heard recently. There’s a lot to discuss, but I’ll be focusing on three for this week’s log. Particularly, a new record set by Crew Dragon, Starship SN9’s explosive test, and The Martian’s thoughts about the ongoing Starship program.
So without further adieu, here’s some of my thoughts about this weeks’ biggest space news.
A New Record
Historic "joint" crew photo! Today #Crew1 broke the record for longest US space capsule mission ever,Skylab 4's 84-day record in 1974. We were honored & thrilled to talk to #Skylab #astronaut Ed Gibson. Thanks @ASE_Astronauts! pic.twitter.com/JRaVmGJGlC
— NOGUCHI, Soichi 野口 聡－（のぐち そういち） (@Astro_Soichi) February 7, 2021
Crew Dragon is now officially the longest-lived American astronaut spacecraft that’s ever been built! The record was achieved earlier this week when Dragon broke the record set by the Skylab-4 mission almost half a century ago. This is super impressive, of course, but what shocked me more was that the record holder was such an old spacecraft! I had to double check as soon as Starman told me about this, but I cross-checked this with HAL and it is really true. For almost 50 years, no modern spacecraft broke Skylab-4’s record. That’s insane.
Apparently, a lot of this was due to a program called the Space Shuttle, which NASA fully supported following its successful Saturn rocket and and Apollo CSM program. The Space Shuttle was promoted to be a fully reusable spacecraft that could make space accessible for everyone, but Starman told me that the reality was far less attractive. The Space Shuttle was crazy difficult to refurbish and reuse, and more importantly, it also confined humans largely to low-earth orbit. This period, which The Martian laments, is ultimately being ushered away by new spacecraft like Dragon and Starship, the latter being a spacecraft specifically built to take life multi planetary.
An Explosive Test
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 2, 2021
It’s pretty funny that I was catnapping for the past few days, since Starship SN9 was apparently held up by FAA rules before its test flight. If I was fully awake then, I may have lost my patience and damaged HAL’s seats again. Anyway, Starship SN9 eventually flew, acing its test flight just like its predecessor, Starship SN8. Just like its predecessor, however, SN9 also failed to nail its landing, hitting the ground too hard and exploding on impact in a massive fireball. Videos of the test flight online showed the massive spacecraft in action as it nearly completed its mission.
Specific word about what happened to Starship SN9 have not been shared by The Martian yet, though videos of the test flight showed that only one Raptor engine looked functional before the vehicle crashed into the ground. This prevented Starship SN9 to slow down properly, ultimately causing the explosion. Nevertheless, Starman told me that these things are normal in spaceflight. He told me that test vehicles like Starship SN9 are created to be tested beyond their limits, since only then can their designs be fully polished. This makes sense to me, since Starship is a vehicle designed to take humans to Mars. With the stakes this high, it would definitely make sense for SpaceX to ensure that Starship is as good as it could be.
The Martian’s Musings
Next time, we try pull *up* method pic.twitter.com/J1M7WHLRDR
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 4, 2021
The Martian loves this platform called Twitter, where he shares his thoughts as he thinks them. I’ve been following him a lot on the internet, and it’s amazing how much attention he gets. In one of his recent Twitter sessions, however, Elon Musk was very candid, admitting that trying to light only two of Starship’s three Raptor engines during a landing attempt was pretty dumb. Starman and HAL laughed out loud when I told them about this, and I have to admit, I think using all three instead of two Raptor engines is far better. Everyone wants Starship to be super safe, after all.
I was strangely impressed by the candor of The Martian. I love how he admits to SpaceX’s mistakes openly. Starman told me that Musk is really like this. He fails a lot on the way towards his goal, but he always fails forward. Test flights may not be completely successful and Starship prototypes may explode, but with every failure, he gets closer to where he wants to be. This is an admirable quality, and this is a sentiment that Starman and HAL share with me. Needless to say, we fully support The Martian’s endeavors, especially with regards to his attempts at making life multiplanetary.
Anyway, I’ve talked quite a lot this week. Until the next time, everyone! I’ll see you in my next log!