¶SpaceX’s Super Heavy hot fire test. SpaceX fired 31 of the 33 Raptor 2 engines on Booster 7 (video, drone shots)—technically enough to get to orbit (although without loading enough fuel to do so)—breaking the record for most engines ever ignited on a rocket simultaneously. While SpaceX is considering it a successful test (in large part because it didn’t explode and take the launch tower with it), one engine was manually cut off before ignition, and another shutdown shortly after on startup but didn’t cause a full abort. Before an orbital launch attempt, SpaceX still needs to finish any outstanding work on Ship 24, re-stack it on Booster 7, get an FAA launch license, and (potentially) finish improvements to the water deluge system that recently arrived by barge from Florida.
¶Two announcements for Blue. The company, which has been rather low-profile of late, made two major announcements recently.
| Blue Alchemist’s solar cell, manufactured from lunar regolith.
- JWST spotted a trio of tiny galaxies from 700 million years after the Big Bang. While not the oldest JWST has seen, these small (1% the mass of the Milky Way) galaxies were creating stars at 100x the rate typical for their mass. They look like what we’d expect from galaxies responsible for the epoch of reionization, about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, when the light of the first stars broke apart a universal soup of cooling, opaque neutral hydrogen atoms into the current transparent plasma of free protons and electrons, ending the Universe’s dark age.
- An Earth-mass exoplanet was detected orbiting in the habitable zone of red dwarf star Wolf 1069 (paper). While probably tidally locked, it “may provide durable habitable conditions across a wide area of its dayside. The absence of any apparent stellar activity or intense UV radiation increases the chances that Wolf 1069 b could have retained much of its atmosphere.” At 31 light-years away, this is the sixth closest Earth-mass planet in a habitable zone and a great candidate for follow-up analysis by space observatories.
- Two more likely water-rich exoplanets were discovered with densities lower than rocky planets, but higher than gassy ones (paper).
- Similar to how a raw vs boiled egg spins differently, observing how asteroids respond as they pass near the Earth’s strong gravitational field can tell us something about their internal structure (paper). The authors hope to validate their model on Apophis when it passes near the Earth in 2029. (That’s a 340-meter-wide object passing within the GEO belt!) ☄️
- For years after a massive supernova, light traveling away from the blast can scatter off of surrounding dust, making the massive explosion’s shockwave visible, an effect sometimes dubbed a ‘light echo’. Hubble data from a five-year period after 2016’s SN 2016adj shows one such impressive light echo (paper).
| Five years of Hubble data show a wave of light from a supernova scattering off of interstellar dust.
¶News in brief. India’s SSLV small launch vehicle succeeded on its second launch attempt and delivered an ISRO EO sat, a demonstrator mission for US startup Antaris, and a student-developed cubesat to LEO ● Even as Russia’s Progress MS-22 arrived at the ISS, the uncrewed Progress MS-21 cargo craft lost pressure—this vehicle isn’t used for crew return and will be disposed of in a fiery reentry anyway, but it doesn’t increase confidence in aging ISS and Russian hardware—meanwhile, Russia is planning to launch a replacement for their other failing ISS vehicle, Soyuz MS-22, on Sunday ● Intuitive Machines SPACed ● NASA’s Lunar Flashlight CubeSat has been unable to enter lunar orbit due to thruster underperformance—to still get a bit of science done, the agency will try to get the craft into a very high Earth orbit that passes over the Moon’s south pole once a month ● Canadian rocketry startup SpaceRyde, designer of a proposed small, balloon-launched orbital rocket, filed for bankruptcy ● The US and India announced expanded civil space collaboration, including training Indian astronauts at Johnson Space Center and collaboration on CLPS missions ● French company Exotrail raised a $58M Series B for their electric propulsion systems and mission design software ● Amazon received approval from the FCC to launch 3,236 Kuiper communication satellites ● Satellite images reveal the stunning level of damage from the tragic magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Turkey and Syria ● Axiom announced the crew for Ax-2 (along with NASA/ISS approval), including two astronauts from Saudi Arabia ● For the seventh time, a meteoroid was spotted before impacting Earth—this 1 meter object impacted near the English channel, with lots of nice videos showing up on Twitter from southern UK and France.
| A 1 m-wide meteoroid burns up over the English channel.
- As SpaceX tests a vehicle that will be capable of 100 tons to LEO (and, eventually, as much as 150 t), and continues a record-setting Falcon launch (and pad turnaround) cadence, the industry is talking about “bloodletting” and how other launch companies can’t compete with the $275,000 that SpaceX charges to take a 50 kg smallsat to SSO on a Transporter mission. Meanwhile, Firefly is targeting May for its next launch attempt and Virgin Orbit is narrowing in on the root cause of its recent launch failure (likely a $100 fuel filter).
- 12 new moons have been officially added to the Jovian system, bringing Jupiter’s total to 92 (visualized here), taking it ahead of Saturn’s 83. We expect Saturn to strike back any day now.
- Seraphim, a space-focused VC fund, released its in-space economy ecosystem map (pdf).
- Before/after shots from Maxar of heavily shelled areas in Ukraine.
- ESRI’s guide to understanding SAR (which might pair well with Issue No. 102’s “What is SAR?”).
- JWST observers submitted a record-breaking number of proposals for the telescope’s cycle 2—7.3x the amount of time available.
- A crane lifting a crane lifting a crane lifting a crane. 🏗️🏗️🏗️
| A Cassini image of Saturn’s B ring with tall ring structures casting shadows on the plane of the ring. Rising up to 2.5 km above the plane of the rings (which are just 10 meters thick!), the structures only cast shadows during Saturn’s equinox every 15 years.