NASA&SpaceX is about to launch Falcon Heavy and make big discoveries that thrill Scientists…#STARSHIPFANS
The space science community thinks the time is finally ripe for NASA to study Uranus in depth. The cloudy planet has not been visited since Voyager 2 made a brief flyby in 1986. And now, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is the best ideal spacecraft for this important mission.
Why is Falcon Heavy the best candidate instead of another American broomstick?
How did Elon Musk react to this?
Everything will be exposed in today’s episode.
Ok! Let’s get started…
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have published their latest decadal survey of planetary science and astrobiology, revealing a recommendation that NASA prioritizes the development of a flagship mission to Uranus baselined to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket.
Known as the Uranus Orbiter and Probe or UOP, the mission proposal has been under development by a team of NASA, the University of California, and Johns Hopkins University scientists and engineers for several years.
According to its creators, in its latest iteration, the Uranus Orbiter and Probe have the potential to fully answer 11 of the 12 primary questions the latest Decadal Survey structured itself around.
Importantly, the survey indirectly states that if it weren’t for the existence of one specific technology, it would have been a wash between a mission to Uranus or Neptune. And that keystone is SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket.
While the survey’s authors don’t explicitly point to SpaceX in the context of UOP, they do state that “a Uranus mission is favored because an end-to-end mission concept exists that can be implemented in the 2023-2032 decade on currently available launch vehicles.”
And as we know, in reality, there only appears to be one launch vehicle: Falcon Heavy.
Three other alternatives do technically exist United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur, Blue Origin’s New Glenn, and NASA’s own Space Launch System (SLS).
However, there were factors to consider, like delays, performance, and such.
NASA’s Europa Clipper orbiter – originally manifested on SLS but later moved to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy to avoid major launch delays – has helped demonstrate that SLS isn’t viable for non-Artemis Program missions without massive productivity improvements and significant workarounds or design changes.
Besides, while capable in many regards, Blue Origin’s reusable New Glenn rocket appears to have extremely poor performance beyond Earth orbit – well below what UOP requires – and is unlikely to launch before 2024 or 2025. It’s possible that an expendable New Glenn could suffice but Blue Origin has never mentioned the option and, even then, the rocket’s expendable performance could still fall short.
NASA&SpaceX is about to launch Falcon Heavy and make big discoveries that thrill Scientists…
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