Updates from the week ending Sunday, February 13th, 2022
This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:
It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.
Official LL Viewers
Release viewer: Mac Voice hotfix viewer 220.127.116.117427, dated January 13 – no change.
On Thursday February 10th, Elon Musk gave the first large-scale update on the work SpaceX is doing to develop the world’s first – and largest – fully reusable space transportation system in the form of the starship vehicle and its super heavy booster, and where things stand at present.
The presentation, which took place at the SpaceX Starbase facilities close to Boca Chica in Texas, came amidst on-going activity to both complete the first orbital launch facility for the massive booster and the payload-carrying starship vehicle, an in refining and finishing the first booster that will make an orbital launch attempt – Booster 4 and further testing of the first orbital attempt starship – number 20.
In terms of the booster, this now appears to be pretty much launch complete: all of the anticipated protection has been added around sensitive equipment at the base of the rocket, the Raptor motors have been given a coat of protective paint, and work has been carried out into the rocket itself.
On the launch platform itself, work has been completed on the huge “Mechazilla” system that is designed to roll up and down the side of the launch tower, lifting both boosters and starships onto and off of the launch table using its two massive “chopstick” arms. Not only has the system, together with the Quick Disconnect Arm that provides fuel and power connections to the starship vehicle been put through their paces rising up and down the tower on their respective tracks, Mechazilla has also carried numerous tests using water-filled ballast bags to simulator the suspended weight of a booster or starship vehicle as it lifts, rotates and lowers them.
Such was the status of testing that many pundits had asserted that Mechazilla would be used to hoist both Booster 4 and Starship 20 from their transport cradles and hoist them up onto the pad and one another ahead of Musk’s presentation.
As it turned out, this was not quite the case. During the first part of the week ahead of Musk’s presentation, Booster 4 was moved the short distance to the launch facility, but one of the large cranes SpaceX has been using was used to hoist it from its transport platform and up on onto the circular launch platform, where clamps within the table’s ring to locked it into position. Following this upper Quick Disconnect (QD) Arm was positioned and connected.
The QD arm has two functions: holding the booster steady by extending two claws outwards and around the upper section of the booster so they mate with hard points mounted on the booster’s frame. Its second role is to similarly help secure a starship vehicle once stacked on top of a booster, and to provide with fuel and electrical power ahead of a launch. As the name implies, the QD arm is designed to rapidly disconnect from both booster and starship and swing out of the way at launch.
Following the securing of Booster 4, and under a night sky, Mechazilla did finally see action as Starship 20 was delivered to the launch facility and the huge arms of the mechanism were moved into position either side of the vehicle just below its forward canards and then gently closed so that they could engage with hard point on the starship before hoisting it clear of its transporter.
After what appeared to be a period of load testing / check out and a retraction / removal of the QD arm, Mechazilla was finally winched up the side of the launch tower, lifting Starship 20 up above Booster 4, prior to the mechanism and vehicle being rotated directly over the booster and then gently down onto it for mating with the booster, after which the QD arm rotated back into place and connected to both booster and starship.
This marked the third time booster and Starship had been mounted together on the launch table – but the first time in which both they, and the entire launch facility have been very close to being ready for that first launch attempt.
Mechazilla itself is a remarkable system. Not only will it lift and stack boosters and ships, it will (eventually) catch them out of the air. The animation below pretty much demonstrates how this will be done with a returning Super Heavy Booster, although after it was released, SpaceX revealed that rather than “dropping” onto Mechazillia’s arms, the booster will in fact come in to hover between the arms, which will them adjust their height and “hold” the booster, allowing the engines to shut down. When watching the video, note also the conveyors on the top of the Mechazilla arms correctly orient the booster ready for it to be swung over the launch table and lowered onto it, and also the V-shaped arms under the “chopsticks” that also connect to the booster to provide additional stability.