BFR Developments

#11
The 'Starhopper' BFR/Starship test article seems to be approaching flyable form without the wrecked nosecone being replaced. As currently configured the bottom half is a large cylindrical thing with a blunt domed nose that looks like a fuel tank bulkhead.

In the last few days SpaceX has informed its Boca Chica neighbors that first flight tests are coming soon. At first these will only be firing up the engines, rising a few feet, then shutting the engines off again almost immediately. Little tiny hops. Once they are more confident that they can control it, they want to go several thousand feet up to explore the control challenges of landing it propulsively. I expect that they will want to get the weight distribution more like the operational version when they do that, so it will need a lot more nose and weight up there. But first they want to get the engines running and test the plumbing. They have already been observed running fuel and oxidizer into the vehicle's tanks.

Photo of the fueling tests in the last few days. The the test vehicle is the large squat cylindrical thing with the dome shaped top over to the right that's generating a cloud of fog (because it's filled with liquid oxygen).


[Image: 2019-03-18-174905.jpg]
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#12
Wow. Has a gritty, raw, "out in the middle of nowhere" look to it. Like something in one those early 20th-century sci-fi novels (or even films) where a backyard enterprise or family-controlled corporation was the pioneer of space travel rather than government.

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#13
It always looks like its covered in tinfoil.
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#14
I'm quite pleased to be few thousand miles away from that thing when it starts hopping. I've every confidence they can do what they say they can do - the distance is just there for reassurance.
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#15
(Mar 19, 2019 04:50 AM)C C Wrote: Wow. Has a gritty, raw, "out in the middle of nowhere" look to it. Like something in one those early 20th-century sci-fi novels (or even films) where a backyard enterprise or family-controlled corporation was the pioneer of space travel rather than government.

It is kind of out in the middle of nowhere (Boca Chica). And it does seem to be a low-budget minimalist effort, compared to NASA and typical corporate multi-billion-dollar gold-plated everything space travel. I can imagine Boeing's lip curling in a sneer when they look at it. But it probably scares them too. (What if it works??) I think that's one of the reasons why I love it.

I guess that the Falcon 9 and the Crew Dragons look a lot slicker and polished because they make SpaceX money launching satellites and because they have that big NASA commercial crew contract funding them. This BFR/Starship thing is entirely company funded and they are mostly doing it because Elon Musk is crazy. (A crazy-genius perhaps. Starting SpaceX in the first place was crazy.)

SpaceX only has about 5,500 employees. Most of them are busy with the Falcons and the Dragons. So how many are working on this? A few hundred? Boeing has 153,000 employees. Imagine if SpaceX builds a spaceship capable of delivering 100 passengers and 150 tons of cargo to and from the Moon: Moon bases, Moon cities, Moon factories become possible. Imagine that it's totally reusable and can be flown over and over like an airliner, for less than the current cost of putting a satellite into low Earth orbit with an expendable booster.

It does remind me of those old 1950's black-and-white science fiction movies where a bunch of scientists (is 'mad scientist' redundant?) build themselves a spaceship. (Always out in the desert somewhere.) And then inevitably cosmic radiation turns their astronaut into a monster man-eating blob.

You remember me back in 2004 and my excitement about Burt Rutan's do-it-yourself spaceship that ended up winning the X Prize. That's where I'm coming from.

If NASA isn't going to deliver the future that they promised us in those old 1950's Sunday color newspaper inserts, with Moon bases and Mars colonies, I guess that regular people have gotta seize the future themselves. (Elon Musk and Burt Rutan are anything but "regular", but you get the point.)
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#16
(Mar 20, 2019 04:27 AM)Yazata Wrote: You remember me back in 2004 and my excitement about Burt Rutan's do-it-yourself spaceship that ended up winning the X Prize. That's where I'm coming from.


Hard to believe that was almost 15 years ago. Its feathered reentry approach passed on to Virgin Galactic craft. Original design (on paper) supposedly had a shuttlecock inspired ring of fins that had to be changed to the adjustable hybrid configuration to make actual landings possible.

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#17
Speculations are swirling that the first engine tests of the 'Starhopper' might come as early as Thursday.

There's a 24/7 live-stream cam set up watching SpaceX's Boca Chica site, here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7zia2HqOOc
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#18
South Padre Island (the nearest community, a beach resort) is saying that the Starhopper's first test is supposed to happen "Friday 3/21/19 10am-4pm CST -5 UTC". I guess that's what SpaceX is telling them.

Apparently they don't know what day it is. Unclear if they mean Thursday 3-21 or Friday 3-22. I'm assuming the latter since as far as I know, nothing visible happened today. People and equipment could be seen working around the vehicle, but no vapor clouds that might suggest loading with fuel or oxidizer. (But I wasn't watching all day either.)

And isn't Texas now on daylight time? (Maybe word doesn't travel quickly down to the southernmost part of TX and they haven't heard yet.)
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#19
(Mar 22, 2019 02:56 AM)Yazata Wrote: South Padre Island (the nearest community, a beach resort) is saying that the Starhopper's first test is supposed to happen "Friday 3/21/19 10am-4pm CST -5 UTC". I guess that's what SpaceX is telling them.

Apparently they don't know what day it is. Unclear if they mean Thursday 3-21 or Friday 3-22. I'm assuming the latter since as far as I know, nothing visible happened today. People and equipment could be seen working around the vehicle, but no vapor clouds that might suggest loading with fuel or oxidizer. (But I wasn't watching all day either.)

And isn't Texas now on daylight time? (Maybe word doesn't travel quickly down to the southernmost part of TX and they haven't heard yet.)


They either got Friday wrong and the calendar date number and time right, or the same hours have been repeated for Friday. Or the whole thing may have been scrapped for this week if weather remains bad.

. . . SpaceX was expected to conduct hop tests on Thursday, with a six-hour launch window opening at 10a.m. (CST) and lasting through 4p.m. (CST). [...] The rocket firm had eyed Wednesday, today and Friday as possible dates to carry out the 'hop' tests, but it's now unclear when they'll take place. [...] SpaceX has pushed back the first tests of Elon Musk's Starship prototype rocket, following several days of bad weather. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/...-test.html

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#20
I don't think that the first test will be much to see. Based on the Grasshopper tests in preparation for the Falcon 9, the very first flight will probably only run the engines for a second or so. So I expect that there will be a short bright burst under the thing and a puff of smoke. The landing legs will lift off the ground a few feet then settle back, but that elevation will probably be impossible to see from the livestream cam located miles away.

I think that the tip-off that something is likely to happen relatively soon (within an hour or so at least) is if we see clouds of vapor around the vehicle. Haven't seen that so far.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7zia2HqOOc
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