SpaceX Falcon Heavy STP-2 launch update: NASA details Deep Space Atomic Clock & other tests launches

SpaceX plans to lift off its Falcon Heavy
rocket – the most powerful operational launch system in the world – for a third time on
June 24. When the 230-foot-tall SpaceX Heavy rocket
rocket thunders away from Cape Canaveral, Florida, it will carry 20 satellites that
comprise the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2. That’s not all SpaceX Falcon Heavy will
carry however: There also will be cargo pertaining to four NASA missions aboard the private launch
vehicle, including materials that will support the Deep Space Atomic Clock, the Green Propellant
Infusion Mission and two payloads that will serve scientific missions. NASA detailed all of these missions in a press
conference. In this video Engineering Today will go into
more detail about what each will involve and why NASA is even pursuing this research to
begin with? Let’s get into details. NASA created the multi-million-dollar timepiece,
called the Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) which SpaceX Falcon Heavy will launch, to
keep track of time in space more precisely than any device before it – without being
too heavy or big, or consuming too much energy. NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock mission,
run from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will see a demonstration super-precise atomic clock
into low Earth orbit, where it will act as a proof-of-concept for using this to deliver
much more accuracy and precision when compared to ground-based atomic clocks. Modern clocks are glorified tuning forks. Many wristwatches, for example, keep time
by running a small electric current through a crystal of quartz. The quartz responds by vibrating at a precise
frequency, and that hum is then broken down into units that drive the advancement of seconds,
minutes, and hours. But all clocks have drift – a measure of inaccuracy
– due to impurities in materials, changing temperatures, magnetic disturbances, and other
factors. Instead of using materials like quartz to
generate a tuning-fork-like frequency, atomic clocks use vapors or plasmas of a carefully
chosen periodic element. In the case of DSAC, that element is mercury. The atoms are ionized to strip away one or
more outer electrons, which enables them to be trapped and cooled down in a small space. A laser is then shined on the ionized atoms,
whose remaining electrons absorb some of that light, jump up in energy level, and then quickly
fall back down. When the excited electrons release the energy
they’ve temporarily absorbed, they re-emit it as light of a different and highly predictable
frequency. It is this signal – the glow of excited electrons
– that can be used to keep time with extreme accuracy. This Deep Space Atomic Clock is a key ingredient
for future deep space exploration, including crewed missions to both the Moon and Mars,
since space-based atomic clocks should help greatly improve outer space navigation. The project’s ultimate goal is to help robots
and crewed ships navigate the solar system autonomously, without instructions from Earth. That’s something spacecraft can’t do today,
but the capability would open the door for more flexible missions and could make some
scientific instruments more powerful. The problem with piloting today, is fundamentally
one of time — we currently need to measure the echo of a signal back from a spacecraft
in flight. NASA and other agencies keep track of a spacecraft’s
location and speed by sending it a radio signal from Earth and seeing how long it takes the
spacecraft to send it back. Because light travels at 670,616,629 mph,
a return-trip travel time of 10 minutes would mean that a spacecraft is about 111.8 million
miles away from Earth. This similar principle also enables GPS satellites
to tell us where we are on Earth’s surface. This Deep Space Atomic Clock will enable one-way
tracking, when paired with data gathered by an onboard camera, using a signal from Earth
to the spacecraft, or from the spacecraft to Earth, but with no round-trip needed. This allows for more efficient tracking across
all flights, because of less time sharing with an existing deep space network. It also enables “self-driving spacecraft”,
which requires no direction at all from navigators on earth. That could even enable astronauts working
on other planets to take advantage of something like a “Google Maps, Mars edition,” with
the confidence to rely on the accuracy of the information and automated navigation systems
that make use of this technology. Use of Deep Space Atomic Clock-based navigation
can also enable travel to locations so far away that two-way communication just isn’t
feasible or possible. This research mission is the first space test
of this technology, and will involve testing in low Earth orbit and is a key ingredient
for proving its viability. NASA has taken a major step in becoming more
environmentally friendly by developing a non-toxic fuel that will be used in a future mission
through upcoming launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy spacecraft. Aside from its environmental benefits, the
space agency said the new fuel is more cost-effective to use. Dubbed as the Green Propellant Infusion Mission,
or GPIM for short, will demonstrate a “green” alternative to the usual rocket fuel used
in launch and spacecraft. This project is a collaborative effort between
NASA and various companies and departments for the demonstration of a safer and more
effective propellant. The green fuel that will be used for the GPIM
was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory in California. The clean propellant, a hydroxyl ammonium
nitrate fuel and an oxidizer mix called AF-M315E, will serve as an alternative to hydrazine,
a highly toxic compound used in rocket fuel to power satellites and spacecraft. The development of the GPIM fuel is a huge
step for all parties involved since it marks a significant transition from the use of hydrazine,
which is the type of fuel used by modern spacecraft, NASA said in a statement. And compared with hydrazine, the fuel is much
safer for humans. “It’s pretty benign, and we think that it
can be loaded at universities or other environments where you’re not typically doing propellant-loading
operations,” Dayna Ise, the technology demonstration missions program executive in NASA’s Space
Technology Mission Directorate. “Oh, and you can send it through FedEx, so
it’s safe enough to be FedExed around the country.” Unlike the new fuel, hydrazine is extremely
dangerous and toxic especially to humans. Handling the fuel requires special safety
precautions such as the use of oxygen masks, protective suits and rubber gloves. Through the green fuel, NASA aims to reduce
the handling restrictions. Aside from its non-toxic nature, the new fuel
is also more cost-efficient than its traditional counterpart. Since the fuel is safer to handle, a spacecraft
can already be loaded with the propellant even during its manufacturing phase. In addition, it provides almost 50% better
performance than hydrazine, allowing a spacecraft to travel for a longer period of time even
with minimal fuel onboard. The fuel is also higher in density, meaning
that more of it can be stored in less space, and it has a lower freezing point, and so
requires less spacecraft power to maintain its temperature, according to NASA. The GPIM will be able to fully test the new
fuel after it launches as a payload for the STP-2 mission through SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy
rocket. To help protect satellites in space, NASA
is exposing a small spacecraft to a whole lot of space radiation. NASA’s Space Environment Testbeds (SET) mission
is currently scheduled to launch on SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket as part of a technology-testing
mission. SET aims to study space weather, which refers
to the weather conditions within the solar system, and how radiation affects spacecraft,
in order to build better-equipped ones for future space exploration. “You don’t want to launch something that can’t
withstand the environment,” Nicola Fox, director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, said. “These particular missions will help us look
at the right kind of material and the best possible technology that we can do in space.” Radiation is one of the main hazards threatening
space missions. Energetic particles emitted by the sun or
found in deep space can damage both the software and hardware of spacecraft over time. It will aim for the gap between Earth’s radiation
belts, which are known as the Van Allen belts. The gap, which scientists call the slot region,
is full of radiation trapped by the planet’s magnetic field ― especially during a magnetic
storm. These storms occur when there is a change
in the magnetic field either from solar winds or the sun’s magnetic field connecting with
that of Earth’s. Using the information collected by SET on
space weather in that area, NASA hopes to build not only better-protected spacecraft
but more efficient ones as well. Ultimately, The Space Environment Testbed
project that will fly through medium Earth orbit to help determine whether this region
of space has less radiation than lower-orbit space, which could make it a prime locale
for navigation and communication satellites that are negatively affected by the radiation
present in low Earth orbit. The fourth and final experiment aboard the
upcoming SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch is the Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment, operated
by NASA. Signals could have a hard time traveling through
bubbles in the upper atmosphere. Especially problematic over the equator, the
radio signal distortions can interfere with military and airline communications as well
as GPS signals. Right now, scientists cannot predict when
these bubbles will form or how they will change over time. As a part of Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment
Two small satellites named CubeSats will fly around our planet and send radio signals to
receiving stations on the ground. Then, scientists will be able to analyze if
these signals were muddled as they traveled from the upper atmosphere down to Earth, which
will help them monitor when the bubbles form and how much they meddle with signals. What scientists learn from Enhanced Tandem
Beacon Experiment could help develop strategies to avoid signal distortion. For instance, allowing airlines to choose
a frequency less susceptible to disruption, or letting the military delay a key operation
until a potentially disruptive ionospheric bubble has passed, NASA said. SpaceX’s mission is currently set for launch
on June 24 at 11:30 PM ET, and it’ll carry all of the above on behalf of client NASA. This upcoming SpaceX Falcon Heavy mission
had been targeted for June 22. It will lift off from historic Pad 39A at
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida The U.S. military plans to launch its Advanced
Extremely High Frequency 5 (AEHF-5) satellite on June 27 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,
which is next to Kennedy Space Center. So, if STP-2 cannot meet its new target date,
the mission may have to wait until after AEHF-5, Air Force officials said. We’ll all have to wait a week to see the Falcon
Heavy fly again.

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38 thoughts on “SpaceX Falcon Heavy STP-2 launch update: NASA details Deep Space Atomic Clock & other tests launches

  1. i started reading about the two new non-toxic rocket fuels because of your video, so thanks…the sources wrote that more research is pending to find even better fuels…THEN i came across this – what a hoot…and now I think I will go hide somewhere until the robot revolution is over…

  2. It sounds like the new “green fuel” would allow companies like SpaceX to propulsively land on land & then retrieve astronauts & cargo without the delays required when using Hydrazine. This would eliminate the need for ocean landings & possibly the probable cause (seawater in the Intrusion in the Super Draco Thrusters that occurred when the Crew Dragon “Splashed down”)

  3. Dear @Youtube – I understand you need to make money from this content, & that you really want people who watch YouTube to pay for the premium service, so you have a Lot of ads “more than commercial TV). But, how does having a lot of intrusive ads that, by their very nature piss people off so they won’t buy your advertisers’ products, serve your advertisers?!?😱😡😡🤷🏼‍♂️

  4. The hydrazine family (monomethyl hydrazine, unsymetrical hydrazine, and Aerozine-50) are NOT oxidizers in the hypergolic family; they are FUELS. The oxidizer used in this case is dinitrogen tetroxide. One thing for sure as mentioned, they all are toxic. As I understand it, they are also carcinogenic.

  5. Surely the issue is mine, but I cant help, while listening to you, to try to breath through my nose loudly.. What is wrong with your nasal passage mate?

  6. Brother I consider myself a learned man self-taught no college but for somebody to create that atomic clock to run in outer space I feel like a single cell organism I love your channel keep up the great work and the great journalism because that’s what you are you are a journalist and it’s truest form bringing us the information so we can decide on our own

  7. That's a nice run-down of the mission. 5 days to go!

    You mentioned a press conference and I can see it on the calendars but has it been scrubbed from the internet? I can't find it anywhere! Do I have to delve into the darknet for it?

  8. Thanks for a deeper insight on the upcoming NASA experiments. Particularly curious as to the "green fuel" experiment.

  9. I hate to be a fact checker, but that Bulova Accutron is NOT a quartz movement, it's a high freq tuning fork. Don't bullshit the folks.

  10. The green fuel has a lot of problem of ignition and temperature control needed..have to mention the negatives. And might not work at all as this test is needed

  11. Damn excellent coverage with lotsa detail, crystal clear and technically correct on very dedicated facets of the various satellites taken up by SX FH STP-2…Great food for nerdy space nuts like yours truly….Keep 'em coming ET, LIKE❣️ 🆒 🚀..

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