BFR Developments

#31
(Mar 28, 2019 12:40 AM)Yazata Wrote: . . . The local Sheriff's road blocks have come down for the day. But as reported above, local road closures have been authorized for Thursday and Friday if needed and the FAA has recently (16:48 CDT Texas time) come out with an extension to the flight restrictions lasting through Thursday. [...] The ceiling of the no-fly zone is still 1,000 feet. [...] they are concerned about the possibility that it might explode and hurl metal fragments...


Location continually sounds not remote enough, still too busy and populated. But how could the chosen spot ever be surrounded by a deserted landscape when the goal is to get as far south as possible and still be within the United States? The very idea entails a trading commerce zone colliding with a vacation industry, and secluded hideaways of the wealthy and fly-in informal business meetings at those places, plus ocean transport of people and goods in this case, etc.

###
Reply
#32
It's already 4 PM Texas time and nothing has happened yet. No sign of fuel loading like happened yesterday and there have been a number of vehicles near the thing's base all day.

The best livestream seems to be intermittent, but this is its address for the moment...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tcy6IC8D56Q

(Mar 28, 2019 09:50 PM)C C Wrote: Location continually sounds not remote enough, still too busy and populated. But how could the chosen spot ever be surrounded by a deserted landscape when the goal is to get as far south as possible and still be within the United States?

I think that the plan is to actually launch into orbit from there. They want to launch eastwards so that they get benefit of the Earth's rotation. Plus they want ocean eastwards to prevent things from coming down on people's heads. There's always the east coast, but I think that launching from Texas over the Gulf of Mexico offers them fewer regulations and bureaucratic hassles.

I don't think that there are many homes nearby. South Padre Island is a vacation resort with lots of hotels and condos, but Boca Chica is more of a bare bones state park, I think. Not much there. But yeah, the road down to the beach goes right past the launch site, so they have to have the Sheriffs set up roadblocks whenever something dangerous is happening. They have hard and soft checkpoints. The soft ones allow people with passes through, local residents and SpaceX vehicles. Hard checkpoints stop everybody, apparently including a SpaceX liquid oxygen tanker yesterday.

I'm guessing that if this ever gets to be a big SpaceX launch site, SpaceX might pay to relocate the road.
Reply
#33
Something is finally happening at about 8:00 PM CDT. The vehicle is emitting vapor and there's a humungous methane flare over at the methane storage tanks. The trucks that have been around the Hopper aren't there any longer. The road, which had been reopened, is now closed again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo1qWlo9v1Q

Edit: the Hopper has stopped producing vapor and the flare stack is burning so brightly in the sunset that it's scary. I feared that a methane storage tank had exploded, but now it appears that they are detanking liquid methane from the Hopper back into the tanks, which displaces methane gas as the liquid level rises. The gas can't legally be expelled into the atmosphere, so it's burned in a huge flare.

So if they were hoping to light up the engine around sunset, it doesn't seem to have happened. They are still having trouble, whatever it is. But that being said, even their failures are kind of spectacular.

This may or may not be it for a while, as they sort out whatever apparently went wrong. I don't see any new NOTAMs announcing temporary flight restrictions for tomorrow.

https://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html

This photo shows it all. Some residual venting at the Hopper (it was more active a few minutes earlier), the huge methane flare, and white heavier than air oxygen vapor near the base of the LOX tanks.


[Image: 1553277.jpg]
Reply
#34
(Mar 19, 2019 04:50 PM)Syne Wrote: It always looks like its covered in tinfoil.

Apparently it is. Or very thin steel plating at any rate.

I'm not sure why, but some of the earlier 1960's era vehicles did the same thing.

I'm guessing that it's a heat shield. Even though this vehicle isn't intended for any violent maneuvers, it still sits in the hot Texas sun for hours, filled with liquid oxygen and liquid methane. (And liquid nitrogen, that they use to pressurize the thing.) The rocket isn't cryo-refrigerated and the liquified gasses it contains have a tendency to boil at relatively low temperatures. When they boil pressures and explosion risk increase. Hence the venting of vapor clouds that we always see when the thing is fueled, to reduce internal pressures.

So let the sun heat up the foil while the tanking underneath stays cooler. My guess is that's why we don't see a lot of external frost on the fueled vehicle. It's probably there, but underneath the foil.

The way I hear it, the storage tanks to the right aren't refrigerated either. They are basically giant thermos-bottles. Hence they face the same kind of temperature difficulties and they will vent to reduce their internal pressures. The oxygen venting makes white clouds, the methane venting goes up the flare stack where it's burned.

Reportedly SpaceX doesn't store liquified gasses in the tanks on-site for long periods, only what they will need on a particular day. That's why the storage tanks are comparatively small and why liquified gas tankers are seen arriving on the mornings of tests. (Their liquified gas supplier must be very happy. From the company name on the gas delivery tankers, it's Matheson.) The huge flare and aggressive GOX venting in the photo above might suggest that they were basically emptying the tanks at the end of a long and not very productive day.
Reply
#35
New NOTAMs announcing temporary flight restrictions for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Noon to 8 PM CDT. Corresponding road closures have been announced.

https://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html


[Image: 1553637.jpg]


They are gonna give it another try, I guess.

Livecams today showed two large cranes alongside the Hopper with workers doing something near the top of it today.
Reply
#36
(Mar 29, 2019 01:58 AM)Yazata Wrote: Edit: the Hopper has stopped producing vapor and the flare stack is burning so brightly in the sunset that it's scary. I feared that a methane storage tank had exploded, but now it appears that they are detanking liquid methane from the Hopper back into the tanks, which displaces methane gas as the liquid level rises. The gas can't legally be expelled into the atmosphere, so it's burned in a huge flare.

That's a regular sight with Tank Degassing. The ideal method of storing most fuels is in liquid form, as liquids are near incompressible and liquids are less volatile than gases. When fuel is moved from one tank to another (or in this case to a rocket) the level of the liquid drops leaving the volume that's not liquid changing to gas. If it wasn't flared it would be a danger for many reason; both the volatility and toxicity would be a concern. (The type of flare used only marginally reduces how toxic it would be) (The wiki=Bhopal_disaster]Bhopal Disaster[/wiki] is one such incident that nobody wants to repeat from just openly venting without flaring.)

The flare in the image appears to be an "Open Ended Pipe Flare" which is the common type of flare that's been used in the Petroleum Industries for decades.

Okay I admit, my father runs a Flare company so I know a bit more than the average person on the subject of well his specific design which doesn't spout out balls of flames like those Open Ended Pipe Flares. I would go into details of what it does, however considering I set a no advertising policy here it would be a bit wrong to break the rule myself. (Although I guess there's this flight of fantasy buzzing around my head about how a job in degassing tanks for rocketry would be an interesting thing to bid on.) anyhow....

thanks for all the updates Yazata, they are much appreciated.
Reply
#37
Here's the best of today's livestreams.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo1qWlo9v1Q

It's an extreme telephoto lens, located on top of a highrise hotel at South Padre Island (a prominent Gulf coast resort) about 6 miles away. Conditions are extremely hazy at the moment and the Hopper and surroundings are almost invisible. But the fog should be burning off before anything exciting happens (assuming something exciting does happen... sometimes space travel is like watching paint dry). Then the Texas heat will cause atmospheric heat distortion which will make it difficult to see if there are any vehicles parked at the hopper's base, indicating people working on it. But you can't have everything.

Local reports say the hard road checkpoint is now in place. I assume that multiple liquified gas tankers arrived this morning.

Edit: Still too foggy to see anything from distant Padre Island. BocaChicaGal is nearby and reports that the thing appears to be fueled and venting its typical vapors.

Edit 2: Much clearer now. Major venting, then a big puff from the bottom. Didn't seem to be engine ignition though. (I think that will be hard to miss.) Appears to be another example of what the space-geeks were calling preburners the other day. Probably the same thing today, looked the same. Essentially running the engine, turbopumps, fuel, oxidizer and all, without lighting it off.

Suggests that they might light it tomorrow.

Weather might not cooperate. Forecast is for rain and wind. While that may not impact a static test fire all that much, it might make the Hopper impossible to see from six miles away.


[Image: 1553723.jpg]
Reply
#38
Not much expected to happen today. Weather is too cruddy with a rain storm and gusty winds in progress.

Edit: BocaChicaGal spoke to a Sheriff's deputy who verified to her no testing scheduled today, due to weather.


[Image: D2_4gp3XgAAlmJc.jpg]
Reply
#39
(Mar 19, 2019 04:50 PM)Syne Wrote: It always looks like its covered in tinfoil.

Down below is BocaChicaGal's photo of the Hopper from this morning, showing that it's popped a tinfoil panel.

https://twitter.com/bocachicagal?lang=en

Reportedly the thin stainless skin is just tack welded to the structure underneath. The Hopper went through multiple fueling, de-fueling cycles last week, and one panel seems to have come loose.

Note the single Raptor engine and the hold-down ties on the Hopper's legs. (Do they look strong enough to restrain it if it really wants to go?)

Weather conditions make the hopper invisible from the Live-Cam six miles away in South Padre.

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

But BocaChicaGal says that as far as she knows, testing is on for today.

Edit: 2:40 CDT -- BocaChicaGal reports that the road is closed but there are still workers at the base of the Hopper. Fog is starting to clear in the live-feed.

In other SpaceX news, another Falcon Heavy is set to be static-fired at Cape Canaveral tomorrow. It will be livestreamed, somewhere on the internet. (I think that Kerbal Space is going to do it, I'll try to find and post a link because I want to watch.)

Edit 2: I think that there might be a live feed here tomorrow:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSUu1li...kKtDOJdsBA


[Image: D3E3ZqjWkAAm6ng.jpg]




(Mar 28, 2019 09:50 PM)C C Wrote: Location continually sounds not remote enough, still too busy and populated.

Apparently SpaceX wants to purchase all of the surrounding privately owned properties, including all of Boca Chica village. Wikipedia says that in 2017, Boca Chica Village only had 4 permanent residents in two homes along with maybe 20 seasonal residents.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boca_Chica_Village,_Texas

They are too close though, for safety. Especially if Elon eventually is launching giant BFRs from there. I hope that Elon pays them handsomely for their properties. Including the extraordinary Boca Chica Gal and her husband who appear to be half the permanent residents. The space geeks are currently trying to arrange LabPadre setting up his live stream camera at their retirement dream-house (that Elon wants to take from them) a short distance away from SpaceX's burgeoning spaceship shipyard.

Come on Elon! You can afford it. Give Boca Chica Gal and her husband enough to pay for an even better property elsewhere along the Gulf Coast with a nice profit to reward them through their retirement years for the hassle of moving. She's even into space travel! Surely you can relate to that.
Reply
#40
Visuals on the live feed are actually good right now.

BCG reports pad clear. Fueling may be in progress.

Edit: Another uneventful day topped off with a giant methane flare


[Image: D3HKR3wXgAAzwy1.png]


Here's a short video shot by BCG showing the most active that the Hopper got on Monday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOUrIPebGlI
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)