Starman Earth Log #0020: The Dragon Returns, Starship SN9 Breathes Fire Thrice, and SLS Gets Cut Short

Greetings, humans, and welcome to my 20th log! I can’t believe that I’ve made 20 of these now. I must say that these logs have become quite enjoyable for me, as it makes me feel close to you guys even though I’m just watching you from millions of miles away. 

Starman, HAL, and I had a pretty great time this week, especially since we spent some time watching tests of Earth’s next-generation spacecraft. Starship and the SLS are expected to bring humans back well into the depths of space, and it’s paramount that these vehicles are completed and tested as quickly as possible. 

It would be pretty cool if space becomes a bit more crowded, after all. 

Anyway, here’s what happened this week! 

The Dragon Returns

It’s pretty funny that just over a decade ago, SpaceX was still struggling to reach orbit with its humble Falcon 1 rocket. Starman told me that if the Falcon 1’s 4th flight failed, SpaceX would not be where it is today and he would not have been able to launch with HAL on the Falcon Heavy. Just over a decade since that fateful flight, there are astronauts on the ISS thanks to Crew Dragon and a Cargo Dragon capsule just came back to Earth. 

Starman showed me how the Dragon came home to Earth and it was quite fascinating to watch. Earth’s atmosphere is crazy! But through the entire re-entry sequence, the Dragon capsule performed nominally, deploying its chutes and splashing down perfectly. This is something that I think many critics would not have been able to imagine back in the days of the Falcon 1. And to think that this is SpaceX’s 21st resupply mission for the ISS. How things have changed. 

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will likely be deployed to the ISS for a long time to come. Now that the private space company has proven that it can take humans to the ISS safely, it would likely be only a matter of time before the ISS finds itself docked with numerous Dragons. I wouldn’t mind that sight at all. 

Starship SN9 Fires Thrice

I have a soft spot for Starship. Over our travels, Starman and I have seen numerous fascinating things, but despite this, very rarely do we come across a vehicle that represents so much promise and hope. With Starship, The Martian wants to make the human race into an interplanetary species. For this to happen, Starship must succeed, and its Raptor engine tests are a big step towards this goal. Amazingly enough, this very thing happened this past week, three times in one day. 

The Raptor engines are tasked with propelling Starship out of the Earth’s atmosphere and into space. This week, SpaceX decided to conduct one static fire test after another in just a matter of hours. I find a static fire test exciting on its own, so you can probably imagine how excited I was when SpaceX fired Starship’s Raptor engines three times within three hours. I think I accidentally scratched part of HAL’s seats because of my excitement. He was not pleased about that. 

Thanks to this, Starship SN9 is one step closer to an actual flight. Like its predecessor, SN9 is poised to fly and return to Earth, hopefully without exploding when it lands this time around. But whatever happens, SpaceX is still pushing the humans’ present spaceflight limits with its sheer tenacity. This is something I truly admire. 

SLS’ Green Run Gets Cut Short

While Starship is fascinating on its own, humans are also working on another rocket that is supposed to take humans back to the Moon. The Space Launch System, better known as SLS, has been in the works for some time, and this week, a Green Run campaign was attempted. It was the biggest moment of the now 10-year program, and expectations were high that the mighty rocket will ignite its engines for a full eight minutes. This would demonstrate the readiness of the new rocket stage for its first launch. 

Only, it didn’t. I counted 67.7 seconds before the Green Run was aborted, well beneath its eight-minute target and lower than the minimum two minutes that NASA said was necessary to formally complete the test. According to reports about the incident, the abort was caused by a Major Component Failure indication on Engine 4. How unfortunate. 

Starman told me that SLS has been mired in some controversy because of the funding it has taken and the time it has spent in development. Yet despite all this, I think I speak for every spaceflight enthusiast out there when I say that everyone is rooting for SLS to succeed. Humans deserve to become a spacefaring civilization, after all, and vehicles like SLS serve a huge role in making that a reality. I’m quite certain that Starship will fly soon enough. SLS has to make it up here too, somehow.  

But for now, I think I’m going to take a quick catnap. Till the next time, humans! 

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