Sunday, 22 September, 2019

SpaceX just sent its new prototype rocket higher than ever before

Starhopper Image Denise Cathey The Brownsville Herald AP
Sandra Phillips | 30 August, 2019, 11:05

The first untethered hop made in July only saw it rise 20 meters for 22 seconds, definitely a significant jump in performance, pardon the pun.

With the successful test of the prototype, SpaceX will build a larger prototype called Starship Mk 1, which will use three Raptor rocket engines, and will be launched from the Texas site.

The Starhopper test posed particular risks, with residents in the nearby Boca Chica Village being warned of the test beforehand.

Concerns for public safety may be why SpaceX had increased its liability insurance exponentially, from $3 million to $100 million.

He also confirmed on Twitter that the latest test would be the "last flight" for Starhopper, adding: "If all goes well, it will become a vertical test stand for Raptor".

A prototype of SpaceX's sub-scale Starship "hopper" spacecraft has successfully passed its final test.

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Just some miles away from Starhopper's check web site, SpaceX staff have been exhausting at work constructing the following prototype of the craft, the MK1, which is able to ultimately try to attain longer journeys into the air. But just after two hours of waiting for the necessary engineers to get the "Starhopper" prototype hovering at a height of 150m, the process was unfortunately halted at around 4 am EAT (6 pm PT). Musk has said he hopes to one day send people and cargo to the Moon or even Mars.

The Raptor is developed to power Musk's upcoming heavy-lift Starship spacecraft, a reusable two-stage booster taller than the Statue of Liberty that's expected to play a central role in Musk's interplanetary space travel goals, alongside missions to Mars. Those following the Starhopper's progress will have noted the difficulty in seeing much of anything in video shared by SpaceX of the night-time flight, but this time around we've been treated to a much clearer view. It is slated instead to be used for what are known as static tests - engine firings with the vehicle itself locked in place and going nowhere.

The rocket was renamed the Starship and was given a sleeker, more streamlined black and white design with actuated fins.

While the flight appeared to be a success, SpaceX has no plans to fly Starhopper again.

"Working on regulatory approval for both Boca Chica, Texas, and Cape Kennedy, Florida", Musk tweeted in March. The Starship will be the flagship of SpaceX's line of vehicles and is meant to take passengers and cargo to destinations including Mars, the moon, low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

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