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Raumfahrt - SpaceX’s Elon Musk: odds of Starship reaching orbit by 2020 are “rising rapidly” Update-6

25.08.2019

SpaceX Developments Bringing Excitement Among Boca Chica Beach Residents

 

BOCA CHICA BEACH- Development of the Space X site is moving forward at Boca Chica Beach.

Last month, Space X launched its starhopper rocket in its first test flight.

Neighbors say since then, there's been new developments almost every day.

"In the back north section, they've developed a whole road back there, laid some three foundations, small foundations, they've rearranged the whole yard," said Maria Pointer, a Boca Chica Beach resident.

Pointer also tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS she's noticed improvements to the launch pad.

CHANNEL 5'S Cecilia Gutierrez spoke to residents about excitement of the area's future.

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Quelle: CHANNEL 5 NEWS

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Update: 27.08.2019

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SpaceX aborts Starhopper test flight, could try again Tuesday

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Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX aborted an attempted flight Monday of the company’s Starhopper test rocket, a prototype for the company’s next-generation Starship vehicle. The hop test was to fly to a height of around 500 feet (150 meters) over SpaceX’s launch site at Boca Chica, Texas.

SpaceX said teams could mount another attempt for the Starhopper test flight Tuesday.

A live video feed provided by SpaceX showed the squat, 30-foot-wide (9-meter) Starhopper vehicle counting down to a planned liftoff shortly after 6 p.m. CDT (7 p.m. EDT; 2300 GMT) Monday from the company’s facility in South Texas. The vehicle’s single methane-fueled Raptor engine could be seen swiveling side-to-side in a preflight steering check, as the Starhopper pad’s sound suppression system dumped water under the vehicle.

But the Raptor engine did not ignite as the countdown clock reached zero.

“Test aborted just after T-0,” read a text banner on SpaceX’s webcast. “Teams evaluating next test opportunity.”

SpaceX later announced the Starhopper team was standing down for the day. Another “hop” attempt could occur Tuesday.

“Igniters need to be inspected,” tweeted Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO. “We will try again tomorrow same time.”

Musk later tweeted that the problem that caused Monday’s abort appears to involve a wiring or connector issue.

“Raptor uses dual redundant torch igniters,” he tweeted. “Better long-term, but more finicky in development.”

The upcoming 500-foot hop test will be the second untethered test flight by SpaceX’s Starhopper vehicle after a July 25 hop that took the rocket to an altitude of about 65 feet (20 meters).

SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engine will power the Starhopper off the ground to an altitude of about 500 feet, then steer it toward a landing site adjacent to the vehicle’s takeoff location. The throttleable engine is the biggest powerplant ever built by SpaceX, with more than twice the thrust of the Falcon 9 rocket’s Merlin engine.

The Raptor uses a technically complex full-flow staged combustion design intended to maximize performance and make the engine relatively easy to reuse.

Early versions the Raptor engine can produce up to 440,000 pounds of thrust at sea level, consuming super-cold methane and liquid oxygen propellants chilled to near their freezing points, a measure intended to increase efficiency, thrust and propellant density, allowing more fuel to be loaded into the launch vehicle.

SpaceX engineers working on competing teams at Boca Chica and in Cocoa, Florida, are building higher-fidelity versions of the Starship vehicle — designated Mk. 1 and Mk. 2 — for higher-altitude, higher-speed test flights.

Future Starship test flights from Florida will take off from launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, a former Apollo and space shuttle launch pad now leased by SpaceX.

SpaceX is designing the Starship to fly in orbit, and eventually reach the moon, Mars, and other deep space destinations. The Starship is designed to land vertically on planetary surfaces using retro-propulsion, and then take off again, ferrying people and cargo between Earth and other locations in the solar system.

The final Starship design, at least as currently understood, will use six Raptor engines for deep space missions. The new Starship prototypes under construction in Texas and Florida will each fly with at least three Raptors for suborbital jaunts.

SpaceX officials have said the company aims for the first orbital flight of the Starship vehicle in 2020.

For more ambitious voyages deeper into space, or carrying heavier cargo, the Starship will be coupled with a new booster design SpaceX calls the Super Heavy, with 35 Raptor engines clustered at its base.

SpaceX planned to conduct a 200-meter (660-foot) hop of the Starhopper vehicle earlier this month, but Musk said difficulties obtaining an experimental permit from the Federal Aviation Administration delayed the test flight. The FAA is responsible for ensuring the protection of the public, property, and U.S. national security and foreign policy interests during commercial launch or re-entry activities.

“Need a bit more hazard analysis & should be clear to fly soon,” Musk tweeted Aug. 15.

The FAA issued the permit for the Starhopper’s 500-foot test flight Friday.

Musk says a presentation on the status of SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy projects, previously planned for Aug. 24, has been put on hold until the Starship Mk. 1 vehicle in South Texas has its three Raptor engines installed, along with moving body fins and a landing gear.

He said that milestone will “hopefully” be complete by mid-September.

Quelle: SN

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FAA green lights SpaceX’s Starhopper for 150 meter hop – realigned for Tuesday

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SpaceX’s Starhopper test vehicle has finally gained the required Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) permit for its highest hop yet. The approval paves the way for a potential flight from Boca Chica, Texas. Monday’s attempt was scrubbed at T-0, moving the next attempt to Tuesday.

(Lead Image Jack Beyer for NSF)

The Starhopper vehicle is a test-bed for gaining flight experience with SpaceX’s new Raptor engine by performing short hops. The methane-fueled engine is under development to support the launch provider’s upcoming Super Heavy and Starship vehicles.

Construction of Starhopper began in late 2018, with its first Raptor firing occurring during a static fire on April 3rd, 2019.

Two more static fire tests over the coming months eventually set the stage for the first flight of the vehicle. The plan was to perform a short hop to an altitude of around 20 meters.

 

 

After an attempt on the previous day was aborted shortly after engine ignition, Starhopper successfully hopped to an altitude of 18 meters on July 25th.

The next milestone of the test campaign is designed to push the envelope even further. While the initial plan was to hop to around 200 meters in altitude, it is understood that the test has been slightly amended to only target 150 meters.

The change was likely made to help satisfy the needs of the FAA, who are in charge of licensing the test flight.

Until recently, SpaceX was only licensed to operate Starhopper up to 25 meters in altitude. Therefore, the objectives of the higher altitude test were not achievable unless a revised permit was granted.

Initially, the FAA expressed concerns with SpaceX’s proposal for a higher altitude test, with a lack of hazard analysis cited as one particular problem.

Without the required permit, SpaceX was forced to delay the 150 meter hop past the originally scheduled date of August 12th.

 

 

However, in recent days, SpaceX was finally able to meet the requirements of the FAA, and the agency has since issued the permit.

The 150 meter hop is set to use Raptor SN6 – the same engine that performed the 18 meter hop in late July.

During the 18 meter hop, the methane fueled Raptor engine successfully lifted Starhopper off of the launch pad, translated the vehicle slightly, and then landed back on the launch pad.

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However, during today’s hop, Starhopper will not only fly significantly higher, but it will also land on a nearby landing zone. 

Road closures for the flight begin at 2 pm central time with the opening of the primary test window at 4 pm local time.

According to a notice given to residents, the primary window lasts for 15 minutes. It has not been confirmed if secondary windows are available later in the day.

However, the road and air space closures do extend to midnight – possibly leaving open the option for a hop later in the day.

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When the test is ten minutes out, police sirens will be activated. The sirens will alert the residents at the nearby Boca Chica Village that it is time to evacuate their homes.

The locals are being asked to head outside for the flight, as the shockwave from a potential overpressure event could shatter the windows in their homes.

Once the countdown reaches zero, Starhopper’s engine will ignite and the vehicle will lift off from the pad.

Several cold-gas thrusters located near the top of the vehicle will then help to keep the vehicle stable as the Raptor engine propels the vehicle. The nitrogen powered thrusters are identical to the ones used by SpaceX to help recover a Falcon 9 first stage.

If SpaceX is unable to execute the hop on Tuesday, Wednesday is designated as backup day according to the posted road closures.

This test flight is currently slated to be the grand finale for Starhopper. If the vehicle manages to land in one piece, it is set to be converted into a vertical Raptor test stand with flight testing transitioning to the larger Starship prototypes.

Currently, SpaceX has two full-scale prototypes nearing completion which are designated Starship Mk 1 and Starship Mk 2 respectively. The Mk 1 prototype is being built at the Boca Chica launch site while Mk 2 is being constructed in Cocoa, Florida.

Construction of both prototypes is progressing well, with the primary structures of the two vehicles nearing completion. 

According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the two major sections of the vehicles (fairing and tanks) will soon be stacked together. From there, technicians will install the control fins, Raptor engines, and landing gear.

One item resembling a control fin – presumably for the Mk 1 vehicle – was already spotted in Boca Chica by NASASpaceflight forum member BocaChicaGal.

The Starship prototypes are also expected to feature three Raptor engines instead of just one like on Starhopper.

Furthermore, the Mk 1 and Mk 2 prototypes are being designed to reach much higher altitudes to push the test envelope further.

While it is not entirely clear when test flights of the new prototype vehicles will begin, Musk recently tweeted that the prototypes were expected to be outfitted with their engines and control surfaces by mid-September. This suggests that the first flight could occur sometime this fall.

The teams in Texas and the Cape are currently racing to determine which is the most effective at building and flying the Starship vehicles. Currently, the Starship Mk 1 prototype is likely the favorite of the two vehicles to take the skies first.

As Mk 1 is being built at the same launch facility used to support Starhopper, much of the infrastructure needed to execute a launch is already in place.

On the other hand, Starship Mk 2 will be launched out of Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A. While that launch site is already being used to support SpaceX’s kerosene-fueled Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy vehicles, it will require modifications to be able to support a methane-fueled rocket-like Starship.

Additionally, SpaceX also plans to install a brand-new launch mount and flame deflector for Starship rather than utilizing the existing Falcon infrastructure at Pad 39A.

While an exact timeline for completing the modifications to the historic pad are not currently known, the work is already well underway.

Quelle: NS

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Update: 28.08.2019

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Elon Musk testet erfolgreich seine Mars-Rakete

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Sie fliegt! SpaceX testet die Mars-Rakete „Starhopper“.

In der Nacht zu Mittwoch hat Tesla-Chef Elon Musk (48) erfolgreich seinen „Starhopper“ getestet. Es ist der Prototyp für eine Schwerlastrakete, die einst Menschen und Fracht zum Mond und zum Mars bringen soll.

Die „Starhopper“ hob am Dienstagnachmittag (Ortszeit) auf einem Gelände in Boca Chica (US-Staat Texas) ab, wie Musks Raumfahrtunternehmen SpaceX via Twitter mitteilte. Das tonnenförmige, silberne Gerät aus Edelstahl stieg rund 150 Meter in die Höhe, flog 100 Meter weit und landete dann nach knapp einer Minute sicher wieder auf der Erde.

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Musk twitterte: „Glückwunsch, SpaceX Team!!“ „Eines Tages wird das Raumschiff auf dem rostfarbenen Sandfläche des Mars landen.“ Der Bau der „Starhopper“ war im Dezember 2018 begonnen worden. Das Gerät hat einen Durchmesser von neun Metern.

Der Raumfahrtvisionär Musk hatte vor einiger Zeit angekündigt, den Mars besiedeln und eine Million Menschen dorthin bringen zu wollen. Schon ab 2025 könnten nach den 2016 vorgestellten Plänen die ersten Menschen zum Roten Planeten reisen.

Die US-Raumfahrtagentur Nasa sieht eine erste bemannte Mars-Mission frühestens in den 2030er Jahren.

Quelle: Bild 

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Frams von Start-Video:

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Quelle: SpaceX

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SpaceX Starhopper Rocket Prototype Aces Highest (and Final) Test Flight

SpaceX's first prototype for its Mars-colonizing Starship vehicle aced its final test flight today (Aug. 27), rising several hundred feet off the ground at the company's facility in the tiny South Texas town of Boca Chica.

Starhopper lifted off just after 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT; 5 p.m. local Texas time), reached a hover altitude and then flew sideways to touch town at a separate nearby landing pad. The entire flight lasted just 57 seconds. 

"Congrats SpaceX team!!" SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter just after the flight.

The ceiling for today's flight was 150 meters (about 500 feet), SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter this week. That limit was imposed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which grants licenses for launches and test flights. 

So, today's leap was quite a bit higher than Starhopper's three previous forays off of terra firma. The first two, conducted in early April, produced barely any separation between the craft and the ground; Starhopper was tethered for safety's sake both times. The prototype was first unleashed on July 25; the vehicle rose an estimated 65 feet (20 m) into the Texas sky.

Today's flight was originally scheduled to take place yesterday (Aug. 26). But that attempt was aborted just before liftoff, likely because of an issue with the igniter on Starhopper's Raptor engine, Musk said. You can watch SpaceX's full 30-minute webcast replay below.

Starhopper is powered by a single Raptor, the next-generation engine that SpaceX is developing for use on Starship and its giant rocket partner, Super Heavy. The 100-passenger Starship will have six Raptors and the Super Heavy will sport 35, with space for two more on the rocket, Musk has said.

Those numbers could change, however. The billionaire entrepreneur has promised to give a Starship design update soon after Starhopper's final flight.

Starhopper now hands the test-flight reins to two orbital prototypes, which SpaceX calls Starship Mk1 and Mk2. The company is building Mk1 in Boca Chica and Mk2 on Florida's Space Coast, reasoning that a little intra-company competition will improve the final Starship design.

Both Mk1 and Mk2 will be powered by at least three Raptors, Musk has said. The test launches of these prototypes will pave the way for operational Starship flights, which could begin as early as 2021. 

hose first few commercial liftoffs will probably loft communications satellites. But the first passenger trip could follow shortly thereafter; Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has booked a Starship flight around the moon, with a target launch date of 2023.

Mars missions will be next, if all goes according to plan. Indeed, that's SpaceX's ultimate goal; Musk has repeatedly said that he founded the company back in 2002 primarily to help humanity colonize the Red Planet and become a multiplanet species.

Starhopper's flying days may be done, but the stubby prototype will be retasked rather than put out to pasture.

"Yes, last flight for Hopper. If all goes well, it will become a vertical test stand for Raptor," Musk said via Twitter on Saturday.

Quelle: SC

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SpaceX’s Starhopper completes 150 meter test hop

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SpaceX’s Starhopper test vehicle – after several days of delays while waiting for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval – successfully carried out its 150 meter test flight on Tuesday afternoon from Boca Chica, Texas. Monday’s attempt was scrubbed at T-0 due to an issue related to the ignitor system on the SN6 Raptor, moving the next attempt to Tuesday which was successful.

(Lead Image Jack Beyer for NSF)

The Starhopper vehicle is a test-bed for gaining flight experience with SpaceX’s new Raptor engine by performing short hops. The methane-fueled engine is under development to support the launch provider’s upcoming Super Heavy and Starship vehicles.

Construction of Starhopper began in late 2018, with its first Raptor firing occurring during a static fire on April 3rd, 2019.

Two more static fire tests over the coming months eventually set the stage for the first flight of the vehicle. The plan was to perform a short hop to an altitude of around 20 meters.

 

 

After an attempt on the previous day was aborted shortly after engine ignition, Starhopper successfully hopped to an altitude of 18 meters on July 25th.

The next milestone of the test campaign was designed to push the envelope even further. While the initial plan was to hop to around 200 meters in altitude, the test was slightly amended to only target 150 meters.

The change was made to help satisfy the needs of the FAA, who are in charge of licensing the test flight.

Until recently, SpaceX was only licensed to operate Starhopper up to 25 meters in altitude. Therefore, the objectives of the higher altitude test were not achievable unless a revised permit was granted.

Initially, the FAA expressed concerns with SpaceX’s proposal for a higher altitude test. A lack of hazard analysis was cited as one particular problem.

Without the required permit, SpaceX was forced to delay the 150 meter hop past the originally scheduled date of August 12th.

 

 

However, in recent days, SpaceX was finally able to meet the requirements of the FAA, and the agency eventually issued the permit.

The 150 meter hop used Raptor SN6 – the same engine that performed the 18 meter hop in late July.

During the 18 meter hop, the methane fueled Raptor engine successfully lifted Starhopper off of the launch pad, translated the vehicle slightly, and then landed back on the launch pad.

However, during the bigger hop, Starhopper not only flew significantly higher, but it also landed on a nearby landing zone. 

Road closures for the flight began at 2 pm central time with the opening of the primary test window at 4 pm local time.

However, the road and air space closures did extend to midnight – possibly leaving open the option for a hop later in the day had it been required.

When the test was ten minutes out, police sirens activated. The sirens alerted the residents at the nearby Boca Chica Village that it was time to evacuate their homes.

The locals were asked to head outside for the flight, as the shockwave from a potential overpressure event could shatter the windows in their homes.

Quelle: NS 

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Update: 31.08.2019

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SpaceX's Next Starship Prototype Launch Will Be a 12-Mile-High Test Flight, Elon Musk Says

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SpaceX launched its Starhopper rocket prototype on its highest flight ever on Aug. 27, 2019 near Boca Chica Village in South Texas.
(Image: © SpaceX)

If you thought SpaceX's Starhopper test flight this week was amazing, just you wait. 

That's the message from SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk on the heels of his company's successful Starhopper launch on Tuesday (Aug. 27). In a Twitter post on Wednesday (Aug. 28), Musk said SpaceX's next Starship prototype will launch to a height of 12 miles (20 kilometers) in just over a month, with an orbital launch to follow "shortly thereafter." Starhopper aimed for a 500-foot (150 meters) ceiling on the recent test.

"Aiming for 20km flight in Oct & orbit attempt shortly thereafter," Musk said on Twitter before making another promise to his followers. "Starship update will be on Sept. 28th, anniversary of SpaceX reaching orbit. Starship Mk 1 will be fully assembled by that time."

That Starship update is expected to be Musk's annual presentation on tweaks and changes to the massive reusable launch system's design from the last year. Musk has held a presentation each year since 2016, when he first unveiled the ambitious space transportation system at the International Astronautical Union meeting in Mexico City. 

Initially, Musk dubbed the fully reusable heavy lift launch system the Interplanetary Transport System, or ITS, for Mars colonization.  A year later, at the IAU meeting in Adelaide, Australia, Musk presented an updated design and new name: The Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR.

Then in September 2018, Musk dropped a bombshell. At SpaceX's rocket factory in Hawthorne, California, he unveiled that the company had signed Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa as the first customer for a Starship flight around the moon in 2023. Musk also presented yet another updated design for the launch system (still called BFR). The name Starship (and Super Heavy for its first-stage booster) were rolled out later. 

SpaceX's current plans for Starship call for a 100-passenger spacecraft powered by six of the company's Raptor rocket engines. Starhopper, for comparison, used a single Raptor engine, while the Mark 1 Starship will apparently use three Raptors for early tests. When Starship and the Super Heavy are on the launchpad, they'll stand 387 feet (118 meters) tall, Musk has said.  

Those details may change on Sept. 28, when Musk rolls out his Starship and Super Heavy update. He has said the presentation will he held at SpaceX's Boca Chica test site in South Texas, home of the Starhopper and the first Starship prototype, the Mark 1. (A second, the Mark 2, is being built at SpaceX's facility in near Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

Quelle:SC

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Update: 11.09.2019

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SpaceX files Starship flight debut paperwork, preps for launch pad upgrades

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On September 9th, the first signs of SpaceX planning for Starship Mk1’s South Texas launch debut appeared in the form of FCC applications, requesting permission to communicate with the rocket prototype during its first flight.

Simultaneously, word broke on September 5th – via a Business Insider report – that SpaceX is effectively set to receive FAA permission to upgrade its South Texas launch facilities for Starship. All things considered, it appears that most – if not all – the stars have begun to align for SpaceX’s inaugural Starship launch, said by CEO Elon Musk to be scheduled for no earlier than October 2019.

The application confirms several details about Starship Mk1’s debut, revealing that SpaceX will kick off the test campaign with a running jump from Starhopper’s 150m (500 ft) flight-test hand-off. The company is targeting an altitude of ~20 km (12.5 mi) – more than two magnitudes higher than its predecessor’s peak – and plans to land the spacecraft just a hundred or so feet from its launch site, on the same landing pad used by Starhopper.

SpaceX teams continue to work around the clock to ready Starship Mk1 for its ambitious flight debut. A new ring segment was stacked on top of the vehicle’s tank section several days ago, while locals also spotted the delivery of one or two new legs/fins, built out of riveted steel. SpaceX’s Boca Chica team continues to struggle to attach Starship’s tip to the rest of its curved nose section, having recently separated the segments for the first time in months.

Preliminary welding of Starship Mk1’s upper (and final) tank dome appears to be complete and technicians are working to integrate the spacecraft’s internal hardware before it can be installed. Meanwhile, a range of new concrete pads have been set and are being outfitted with additional production hardware, likely paving the way for simultaneously Starship-Starship or Starship-Super Heavy builds in the near future.

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Documents acquired and published on September 5th by Business Insider reporter Dave Mosher touched on the assembly facility’s expansion and provided an excellent overview of SpaceX’s planned upgrades to its Starship launch pad. Retasked from original plans (and approvals) for an additional Falcon 9/Falcon Heavy launch site, the documents confirmed that the FAA has reevaluated its 2014 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and is effectively ready to re-permit SpaceX’s Boca Chica facilities in light of its new purpose.

About as classically SpaceX as it gets, the company has already dramatically altered plans and timelines since the FAA even began to reevaluate its launch pad EIS. Discussed as Phases 1-3, SpaceX – barely two months after the FAA’s updated EIS statement – appears to have already completed Phases 1 and 2 (wet dress rehearsals, static fires, and small hops) and doesn’t have public plans for “medium hops” of “30 cm…up to 3 km”. The FAA statement – signed in May 2019 – says that the agency did not have the information necessary to permit Phase 3, involving “engine ignition and thrust to lift the Starship to 100 km, flip the Starship at high altitude, and conduct a reentry and landing.

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This article’s feature photo shows SpaceX’s late-2018/early-2019 imagining of launch site upgrades reportedly needed to support Phase 2 testing. Although extremely similar to what SpaceX has already built in South Texas, some significant changes are definitely present, and it looks like SpaceX has a busy 4-8 weeks of work ahead to complete necessary modifications, including expanded propellant storage, two large walls, and possible underground routing of critical infrastructure.

Ultimately, significant work remains for SpaceX to receive both FAA’s EIS go-ahead and experimental launch permits for Starship Mk1’s first flight. Based on the ~3 weeks it took the FAA to simply extend Starhopper’s existing 25m hop permit to 200m (eventually cut to 150m), it could be quite the uphill battle to jump to a 20 km flight test. For the time being, SpaceX hopes to conduct Starship’s 20-km flight debut as early as October 13th, in line with Musk’s ambitious “October” target.

Quelle: TESLARATI

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Update: 16.09.2019

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SpaceX ‘tops off’ its South Texas Starship prototype with one final steel dome

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On September 14th, South Texas SpaceX technicians lifted Starship Mk1’s third and final tank dome and began to attach it atop the prototype’s steel tank section, this time making use of a new method of integration.

This progress comes just two weeks before CEO Elon Musk is expected to present a detailed update on Starship’s newest design iteration. Musk is hopeful that – come his September 28th presentation – Starship Mk1 will be nearly complete and ready for its inaugural flight, a milestone that could come as early as October 13th according to Starship documents filed with the FCC.

This latest installation is likely either the last ring (or nearly so) to be stacked on top of Starship Mk1, paving the way for the eventual attachment of the spacecraft’s conical nose section and the fleshing out of its many internal subsystems and aerodynamic control surfaces. This particular milestone involved the attachment of Starship’s third and final tank bulkhead – in this case, the upper dome of the prototype’s liquid oxygen tank. Excluding hardware that might eventually be installed on the dome itself, this means that Starship Mk1’s tank and engine section has essentially been ‘topped off’.

As previously estimated by the author, this particular tank dome installation – the fifth completed by SpaceX’s Mk1 and Mk2 Starship teams – was done in a manner thus far unique. All previous installations have seen SpaceX technicians lower the domes – completed aside from one vertical weld for flexibility – inside the Starship’s cylindrical tank section. The steel domes are then carefully spot-welded to the side of the tank in their proper place – all while being supported by a large crane – before technicians can complete a seamless ring weld around their entire circumference.

This time around, SpaceX welded the upper tank dome to its companion ring section while both elements were still staged on the ground. Once the dome was completely welded to the steel ring and a dome cap was installed to seal off the top, the ring segment was craned atop Starhip Mk1 on September 14th. It’s possible that this was planned all along for each Starship’s third and final tank dome, but the way CEO Elon Musk has previously described SpaceX’s semi-competitive Mk1 and Mk2 builds suggests that it may instead be a new assembly strategy that evolved in just the last month or two.

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A cutaway view of an earlier Starship concept (BFS, circa 2017) shows a cargo/service/utility bay situated atop its upper tank dome. (SpaceX)

Instead of having to do the work of fitting, attaching, and ring-welding the bulkhead to Starship’s tank section 50-100 feet above ground, with all the associated rigging, scaffolding, and challenges such a work environment demands, technicians were able to do the majority of that work at ground-level. This method seems to offload the added challenge of dome installation to the vertical ring installation process, effectively merging the two processes into one much simpler (and safer) feat.

The fact that Starship Mk1’s tank section has now been capped (aside from several small access ports) indicates that all large, plumbing-related components have been installed inside the steel prototype. Up next for Starship Mk1 is the installation of its landing legs/fins/wings (at least two of which have already arrived on-site), canards, and a variety of smaller additions like valves, thrusters, ground connection points, and much more.

Quelle: TESLARATI

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SpaceX's Next Starship Prototype Taking Shape

The craft will fly next month, if all goes according to plan.

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SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk posted this photo of the company's next Starship prototype — presumably the Starship Mk1, which is being built in Texas — on Twitter on Sept. 17, 2019.
(Image: © Elon Musk via Twitter)

SpaceX's next Starship prototype won't be just a concept vehicle for much longer.

Construction of the test craft is proceeding apace, as two new photos posted on Twitter today (Sept. 17) by company founder and CEO Elon Musk reveal. 

One of the images shows the vehicle — apparently Starship Mk1, which is being assembled at SpaceX's South Texas facility, near the village of Boca Chica — in the background, standing behind a building that contains a variety of parts and other equipment. (SpaceX is also building a similar prototype, called Starship Mk2, at the company's Florida facilities, reasoning that a little intracompany competition will improve the vehicle's final design.)

"Droid Junkyard, Tatooine," Musk said via Twitter, referring to Luke Skywalker's home planet in the "Star Wars" movies. 

The other photo is a close-up view of a ring-shaped section being lowered onto the Mk1's body. The billionaire entrepreneur had a joky caption for this one as well: "Area 51 of Area 51."

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The Mk1 and Mk2 follow in the footsteps of SpaceX's Starhopper vehicle, which was retired after acing a big test flight last month. But the new vehicles are far more ambitious and more capable. Whereas Starhopper sported just a single Raptor engine and stayed within a few hundred feet of the ground, for example, the Mk1 and Mk2 will be powered by at least three Raptors and will go much higher.

SpaceX is aiming for a test flight that gets 12 miles (20 kilometers) up in October, followed by an orbital attempt "shortly thereafter," Musk said late last month.

All of these steps are leading toward the final Starship, SpaceX's planned Mars-colonizing craft. That Starship will be capable of carrying 100 passengers and will launch atop a huge rocket called the Super Heavy. Both of the elements, rocket and spaceship, will be fully and rapidly reusable, Musk has said.

The final Starship, as currently envisioned, will sport six Raptors, while the Super Heavy will be powered by 35 of the engines. Those numbers could change, however; Musk is scheduled to give a Starship design update on Sept. 28 from the South Texas site.

The Mk1 should be fully assembled by that time, he has said.

Quelle: SC

 

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