SpaceX tests all 33 engines on Super Heavy. The worst-case scenario for space debris actually happened. A kilonova is coming. A new map of all the matter and dark matter in the Universe.
SpaceX Sets New Record With Successful Test-Firing of 31 Raptor Engines!
SpaceX is continuing to test its Super Heavy/Starship launch system in Boca Chica, Texas. This week we saw a static fire test on Super Heavy Booster prototype B7, with 31 of its 33 Raptor 2 engines ignition. According to Elon Musk, one engine was shut down before the test, and another shut down automatically mid-test, but it’s still enough to “reach orbit.” With this test out of the way, SpaceX has all the assurance it needs to move to the next phase and attempt an orbital flight, probably sometime in early March.
Bad Things Happened in Orbit
Space Force’s 18th Space Defense Squadron reported Monday that a Russian COSMOS 2499 satellite broke up in orbit. According to a recent tweet, they’re tracking 85 individual pieces at an altitude of 1169 km. At this high altitude, it’ll take decades for the debris to deorbit and burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing an increased risk for other satellites in similar orbits.
Ion Beam Sheparding
A new way to deorbit space debris was suggested in a recently released paper. It uses the idea of ion beam sheparding. This way one spacecraft can use multiple ion engines to point at multiple space debris pieces to alter their orbit. By pointing the ion engine exhaust the pieces can be deorbited in a controlled manner. It’s an exciting idea that hopefully will be tested soon.
Google’s AI costly mistake about James Webb
This week Google presented its new AI tool called Bard. It’s Google’s take on the ChatGPT-like tech that is actively being adopted by Microsoft. However, in a promo video shown during the presentation, Bard made a mistake about James Webb. It said that James Webb was the first telescope that took a picture of an exoplanet. This is not true, as we had direct observations of exoplanets for decades. After the presentation Alphabet’s market evaluation dropped by up to $100B. But it must be a coincidence, right?
A Kilonova Is Coming
A binary star system was spotted that is destined to become kilonova. One of the two stars is already a neutron star. The second one is a massive star that will soon undergo a transformation into a neutron star. Then the two stars will collide and produce a kilonova. So now astronomers just need to wait for it. Unfortunately, it might take a couple of million years.
More about the upcoming kilonova.
A Massive Black Hole In A Very Young Universe
Using the e-ROSITA X-ray instrument astronomers were able to find a supermassive black hole that is actively feeding. The interesting thing about it is that it’s very early in the Universe, just 800 million years after the Big Bang. This is a bit of a surprise, as it once again shows that mature structures were formed earlier than previously thought.
A New Map of The Universe
A new map of the Universe was produced that takes into account ordinary matter as well as dark matter. It was made using multiple telescopes: Dark Energy Camera Survey, South Pole Telescope, and Planck data of CMB. Researchers looked at gravitational lensing to create the map and use the results to refine their models of the Universe. Results largely match the models, but there are slightly fewer fluctuations in clumpiness than predicted by previous simulations.
More Destruction Tests from Sierra Space
Sierra Space pumped another of its inflatable habitats to destruction, proving that it can meet NASA’s space operations requirements. The latest test is called the “Accelerated Systematic Creep Test,” where they fill the habitat with sustained pressure over time until it fails. NASA’s recommended target duration was 100 hours, but the module burst after 150 hours of sustained pressure. These tests aim to develop a station module that can handle 60 years in space. More tests are coming in 2023, including full-scale versions of the module.