Billionaire Maezawa chooses his passengers for Starship lunar flight

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa yesterday announced the eight passengers he will take with him on his private Starship flight around the Moon, its launch date still not set.

The full list of ten (including the two back-up passengers) is a wide mixture of individuals with a wide range of disciplines coming from a wide range of countries. For those interested in space, the one name that stood out and was very familiar was Tim Dodd, created of Everyday Astronaut. He created a video describing his selection as well as Maezawa’s entire project, which I have embedded below:
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Elon Musk gives a tutorial on the Raptor-2 engine

Tim Dodd of Everyday Astronaut on Friday released another video from his most recent tour of Starbase at Boca Chica with Elon Musk. I have embedded it below.

Essentially, this 41 minute video is Elon Musk giving us a tutorial on how SpaceX simplified and improved its Raptor engines from its first iteration to the present Raptor-2. He does this while standing in front of a long row of finished Raptor-2s, all meant for installation in the seventh prototype of Superheavy, the booster now on the launchpad with those engines installed and being prepared for its first static fire test prior to the orbital flight.

Musk revealed two interesting factoids during this video. First SpaceX blew up approximately 20 to 30 Raptor engines during the development phase, and melted the chambers on another 50. All of this was perfectly acceptable, because they designed engine manufacture so that a high production rate was built in. As Musk noted, “A high production rate solves many ills.” Losing engines during testing and development was no big deal because they were able to quickly replace them, with revisions and upgrades.

Secondly, Musk claimed that the Raptor-2 engine has a 99% efficiency, a level of efficiency that is unheard of in any engine for any purpose ever. I wonder if that claim will hold up as new companies and engineers work to beat SpaceX in the coming centuries.

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Part 2 of Elon Musk’s most recent tour of Starbase

Looking up from the bottom of the tower
Looking up from the bottom of the tower

Looking down from the top of the tower
Looking down from the top of the tower

Tim Dodd of Everyday Astronaut has now posted part two of his long and most recent tour of Starbase at Boca Chica with Elon Musk. This section is 33 minutes long, and takes us to the top of the new orbital launch tower that SpaceX will use to launch Starship and Superheavy, as well as eventually catch Superheavy upon its return.

Part 1 can be viewed here.

The two images to the right are screen captures from today’s tour.

I have embedded Part 2 below. It has the following interesting take-aways:

  • Musk: “At SpaceX, we specialize in converting the impossible into late.”
  • Musk and his engineers spent several minutes describing in detail how the tower’s chopsticks will work in conjunction with Superheavy as it comes down and the chopsticks grab it.
  • Musk also provided some details about the Starlink-2 satellites, explaining that it is impractical to launch them on Falcon 9, and thus Starship must become operational to fly them.
  • The tour not only stopped near the top of the tower to get a close look at the attachment points for the chopsticks, it went to the tower’s top, at 469 feet in the air, 106 feet taller than the Saturn-5 rocket.
  • In discussing how the economy is not zero sum, Musk revealed why he is at heart a conservative, and is slowly finding this out. That he still leaves out that forgotten word that makes this all possible, freedom, shows his journey is not quite complete.
  • Musk also added his thoughts on the importance of making human civilization multi-planetary. For him, it is really a question of survival.

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Elon Musk gives another tour of Starbase

Tim Dodd of Everyday Astronaut has posted another 44 minute long interview with Elon Musk that took place as Musk gave him a recent tour at Boca Chica, walking around the base of the Starship and Superheavy boosters being prepared for that first orbital launch.

I have embedded the interview below. It has the following interesting take-aways:

  • In describing their decision to eliminate completely a separate attitude thrust system for Starship and instead use the fuels in the main tanks using controllable vents, Musk once again demonstrated his engineering philosophy that “the best part is no part.”
  • The company is definitely planning to test the deployment of some Starlink satellites on that first orbital test flight.
  • Musk once again emphasized that there is a high expectation that this first orbital flight will fail, but they are unbothered by this because this first ship is considered a prototype anyway that must be redesigned. Whether it completes its flight or not, the flight will tell them what needs to be done for future iterations.
  • They are aiming with Starship to reduce to cost to bring a ton to the surface of Mars from $1 billion to $100K. Musk called this improvement “insane” but entirely possible.
  • Musk also noted how the design of Starship is not like a plane, which wants to develop lift. Starship instead is designed to fall, but do so as “draggy” as possible. The goal is to shed as much velocity as possible, as soon as possible.

Dodd also notes this video is the first of a new series.
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