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Things appear to be moving rapidly. The BFR's upper spaceship portion is being called "Starship".

Major engineering change is that they don't seem to be planning to construct it from strong, low-weight carbon composite as originally envisioned. So at the moment (it's a work-in-progress and subject to change) it's to be be stainless steel. Elon Musk says that while carbon composites have better strength/weight characteristics at normal temperatures, these properties are more equal at cryo-temperatures and a lot worse at hot re-entry temperatures. So it's to be shiny stainless, with a mirror finish. (And coincidently, that will look very cool.)

Construction of a prototype "test hopper" is underway in Texas. Photos leaked out and Musk confirmed it. He says:

"I will do a full technical presentation of Starship after the test vehicle we're building in Texas flies, so hopefully March/April"

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1076608579652616192

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1077106553189093376

People exclaimed that's a lot sooner than anticipated and Musk says "Yes".

This "test vehicle" will apparently be a sub-scale technology-demonstrator prototype, shorter than the final version (but just as wide), designed to rise a few thousand feet than come back down propulsively, for engineering tests. It's not the final spaceship version, but bears the same relation to the "Starship" as the "grasshopper" test vehicles did to the Falcon 9.

Photo here:

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Elon Musk is teasing a rendered image of what the new prototype Starship that's under construction will look like when it's completed, all in shiny stainless steel. (Apparently the shiny surface reflects heat, helping with the reentry cooling problem. So it isn't just for looks.) He says that the final operational version will have windows that this robot version lacks. (And no doubt all kinds of life-support and human habitation stuff.) From this image, the prototype looks to be full-size.

From his twitter page:

[Image: DwKIR5EWkAAqDuW.jpg:large]

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Here's another photo that Elon's retweeted, taken by a local Texan, showing the real-life (not artist's conception) prototype under construction.

[Image: DwJ-6F1VAAAnQ8k.jpg]
Things are progressing really fast. The Starship test prototype in now fully assembled, at least structurally. (Not sure about its on-board systems.)

This one isn't intended to go into space. It will just conduct a series of engineering control tests, where it rises a few hundred to a few thousand feet on its rocket exhaust, hovers and then descends again propulsively. (1950's science-fiction style.) So it's more of an engineering test article than a spaceship. I believe that the operational space version will be longer than this one, but the same diameter. It may have additional fins up by the nose as well.

The image on the right is the artist's rendering. The one on the left is the real thing. (Is the little figure standing below wearing one of SpaceX's stylish spacesuits?)

[Image: DwnklVpUUAEOKTe.jpg:large]

Elon Musk says:

"It needed to be made real... Obv must be more pointy tho"

https://twitter.com/elonmusk

[Image: DwRVeNTUcAE0TQ4.jpg]
(Jan 11, 2019 11:06 PM)Yazata Wrote: [ -> ]Things are progressing really fast. The Starship test prototype in now fully assembled, at least structurally. (Not sure about its on-board systems.)

Elon Musk is as much showman as engineer, and the Starship prototype up above was a hollow shell assembled mainly for looks.

The reason why I say that is that it's once again been separated into the two parts (nose and barrel body section) seen previously. And from the looks of it, they are now installing fuel and oxidizer tanks inside the hollow shell. The rocket engines have been once again removed while that's happening.

The very Elon-friendly Teslerati says, "At this point in time, it appears that Starhopper is some odd combination of showmanship and actual hardware... One could argue that assembly is not exactly complete if the given product has to be pulled in half to install significant new components... Aside from completing the liquid oxygen and methane tank structure, SpaceX engineers and technicians will additionally have to complete the vehicle's aft section, a massive 9m/30ft-diameter thrust structure capable of supporting the thrust of three Raptor engines and the weight of the entire fueled rocket. After that, plumbing, avionics, sensors, attitude thrusters, and more will still need to be completed and integrated."

https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-starshi...k-install/

Lots of photos and discussion (some remarks by Elon) here.

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index....msg1901545

More news: SpaceX appears to have backed out of the lease on a large site at the Port of Los Angeles where they were to build the BFRs. The new plan is to consolidate Starship/Super Heavy construction in Texas. Elon musk says that will be more efficient, since the components of this thing are so big that they will be difficult to transport. It isn't clear if TX is only for prototype testing, whether they plan to build the ultimate space-worthy ones in TX too, whether they plan to eventually launch these things into space from Texas, or whether the vehicles will be floated by barge across the Gulf of Mexico to Cape Canaveral. Still very murky and things are seemingly changing by the day.

Still more news: the first demonstration flight of the Crew-Dragon on a Falcon 9 rocket that was scheduled for Jan 17 has been moved back to early February some time. Not sure why, whether it is because of technical issues or whether it's because of the government "shutdown" which has impacted NASA.
since he will be flying in space, he should make his own flag to fly alongside the stars & stripes.
seems only fitting.

things to do on test flights...
maybe he can launch a manikin and seat it in his car for test purposes.
As noted in the Jan 17 post above, the Starship hopper test vehicle was separated once again into its nose and tail sections after photos were taken. Fuel tanks were observed being installed in the lower half, while the upper half stood upright nearby.

But a storm arrived with severe (50mph) winds. The tie-downs of the nose section broke and it was wrecked. Photos show it looking like a flattened tin can, except really big. It basically looks totaled and it will have to be remanufactured.

[Image: Dxm2i-sVAAAE3wR.jpg]

Scroll down to January 23 here for lots of fresh photos

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index....c=47070.20

Elon Musk acknowledges it and says it will take "a few weeks" to repair. Maybe. Or maybe that's Elon-time.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1088088320767217664

Work continues today (Jan 24) installing the fuel and oxidizer tanks in the lower half. The top half just appears to be a hollow fairing that sits atop the lower half and completes the rocket appearance. So it can probably fly on its hop tests without it.
(Jan 25, 2019 04:46 AM)Yazata Wrote: [ -> ]. . . But a storm arrived with severe (50mph) winds. The tie-downs of the nose section broke and it was wrecked. Photos show it looking like a flattened tin can, except really big. It basically looks totaled and it will have to be remanufactured.


Is this at or near the Boca Chica Village launch site? Great potential weather location for BFR, in a double whammy sense. Hurricane Beulah supposedly annihilated the community back in 1967, not long after it was created. Depending on which evolving diagram slash map one references, mutable "Tornado Alley" could reach all the way down to the vicinity of that area, if not swallowing it on some rogue charts.

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(Jan 25, 2019 06:14 AM)C C Wrote: [ -> ]Is this at or near the Boca Chica Village launch site?

Right. That's where it is.

Quote:Great potential weather location for BFR, in a double whammy sense. Hurricane Beulah supposedly annihilated the community back in 1967, not long after it was created. Depending on which evolving diagram slash map one references, mutable "Tornado Alley" could reach all the way down to the vicinity of that area, if not swallowing it on some rogue charts.

Yeah, that part of the Texas Gulf Coast is kind of a hurricane magnet.

Cape Canaveral gets hurricanes too, but NASA and the Air Force have very stout buildings designed to withstand (most) hurricane strength winds (probably not the worst 200 mph ones) where they can tuck their rockets if need be.

But SpaceX's activities at Boca Chica all seem to be open air at this point.

In other news, SpaceX testing out their heat shielding

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1088680182540464128

(Looks like summer in Las Vegas.)
Prototype rocket engines for the BFR in Texas for test firing. I'm guessing that this is McGregor, not Boca Chica. Elon Musk says that they will initially use the same engines for the booster (Falcon uper-Heavy) and the spaceship (the Starship) instead of designing sea-level optimized engines for the former, and vacuum-optimized engines for the latter, to cut down on development time. These Raptor engines are much larger than the Merlin engines used on the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. His words:

"Initially making one 200 metric ton thrust engine common across ship & booster to reach the moon as fast as possible. Next versions will split to vacuum-optimized (380+ sec Isp) & sea-level thrust optimized (~250 ton)."

The "moon" comment is interesting.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1091156245132673024

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Here's the engine in the photos above being fired for the first time in McGregor Texas.

There's a video here:

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1092270756715737088

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