Journalist Report 18-11-2023 Crew 286 by Liz Cole and Scott Beibin
An Unintentionally Wet Dress Rehearsal
The booster experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly shortly after stage separation while Starship’s engines fired for several minutes on its way to space
Most of the crew awoke early this morning to watch the successful launch attempt of the second orbital test flight of the fully stacked SpaceX’s ‘Starship Super Heavy’ rocket. The launch resulted in a successful full firing of all engines on both stages – 33 of the Raptor Engines on the Super Heavy Booster 9 and all 6 Raptor Engines on Starship 25 (3 Sea Level and 3 Vacuum Raptor Engines). The Super Heavy Booster and Starship successfully separated after liftoff. During the separation Starship ignited its engines and pushed away. SpaceX stated in a post after the launch that “The booster experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly shortly after stage separation while Starship’s engines fired for several minutes on its way to space”.
‘Starship Super Heavy’ is the tallest and most powerful rocket ever built by humans. It’s designed to carry large payloads and human crews offworld to the Moon, Mars and beyond. It went further than its predecessor went during its first test flight on April 20, 2023 and can be viewed both as a success and learning opportunity, enabling future opportunities in order to test the system.
Back at Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, Crew 286 engaged in excited breakfast discussions about the progress and learning opportunities from the launch – which carried over into conversations about the terrestrial applications of space research. Guillaume Gégo, MDRS Crew Scientist discussed the benefits of space program research which extends to improving life on Earth, especially in terms of solving global problems of hunger. The purple bacteria currently being grown in his experiment includes the efficient production of necessary nutrients that are not easily accessible to many people on Earth – which is of paramount importance. Additionally discussed were the benefits of space simulations which can be naturally inspiring to kids who dream of becoming astronauts.
Afterwards, planning went into full swing for the afternoon’s EVA.
The scheduled EVA intended to involve Scott Beibin (crew Artist/Inventor) performing exterior 3D LiDAR scanning of the Mars Desert Research Station complex, including all the structures at the facility, as well as reconnaissance for optimal locations for Scott’s Ptelepathetique ‘Martian Music’ concert scheduled to take place on Sol 7 (November 19), and photography by Andrea Orejarena and Caleb Stein (an artist duo shooting for the New York Times) of personal mementos brought by each astronaut if they were to spend years away from Earth. The EVA was to be filmed by Hugo Saugier, MDRS 286 crew member and documentary filmmaker.
As the four analog astronaut crew members began to exit the airlock, it began to rain, quickly turning the campus into a muddy and slippery red clay mess. The astronauts returned to the airlock to wait it out, however, as the rain poured down with increasing intensity, it became clear that the crew would not be safe traversing in the slippery conditions, and the delicate equipment including LiDAR scanning devices, camera gear, synthesizers, audio gear would not be safe in the rain. After a few more minutes Mission Support stated that weather radar showed rain likely to continue for the duration of the EVA. The crew quickly came to consensus that it was best to abort the mission. I joked that the mission had become a “wet dress rehearsal”.
They re-pressurized in the airlock and returned to the HAB.
The remainder of Scott’s afternoon was spent continuing to perfect detailed plans for his outdoor concert, including a manifest and review of the hardware and processes he will be incorporating into his performance.
In the GreenHab, several of the microgreens have sprouted. Guillaume’s progress with his purple bacteria continued as normal. In the RAM, Roger Gilbertson, Crew Commander, used the oven to dry the first half of the plaster casting mold.
Roger, Scott, Hugo and Liz explored logistics, communications, and audio configurations for the seven – person EVA required for the Ptelepathetique concert simulating the acoustics of Mars.