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posted by martyb on Wednesday August 28 2019, @04:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the History-in-the-Making dept.

SpaceX's Starhopper has successfully completed a 150-meter test hop. Due to two orbital prototypes of Starship already nearing completion, Starhopper will not fly again, and will instead be converted into a vertical test stand for Raptor engine static fire tests:

SpaceX's Starhopper test vehicle – after finally gaining the required Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) permit for its highest hop yet – successfully carried out its test on Tuesday. The approval was required to pave the way for the 150 meter jump out of Boca Chica, Texas. Monday's attempt was scrubbed at T-0 due to an issue relating to the ignitor system on the SN6 Raptor, moving the next attempt to Tuesday which was successful.

[...] 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.

A presentation revealing new details about Starship has been tentatively rescheduled for mid-September.

Also at Ars Technica and Teslarati.

A video of the flight is available on YouTube.

Previously: SpaceX Launches CRS-18 Using Twice-Flown Booster, Starhopper Finally Flies
SpaceX 'Starhopper' Highest-Ever Test Flight Early Next Week
SpaceX's Starhopper 150-Meter Test... Scrubbed for Monday; Try Again Tuesday at Same Time [Updated]

Original Submission

Related Stories

SpaceX Launches CRS-18 Using Twice-Flown Booster, Starhopper Finally Flies 9 comments

SpaceX Falcon 9 booster nails landing in lead-up to next NASA-sponsored reuse milestone

SpaceX has nailed its 24th Falcon booster reuse and 44th Falcon booster landing with Falcon 9 B1056's flawless Landing Zone-1 recovery, setting the booster up to become the first SpaceX rocket NASA has flown on three times.

According to, NASA had already moved from a conservative "maybe" to a much firmer "yes, but..." on the second-reuse question, pending – of course – the successful completion of B1056's second launch and landing. As of now, the Block 5 booster has indeed successfully completed its second orbital-class mission, setting itself up for a milestone NASA reuse that could happen as early as December 2019 on CRS-19, Dragon 1's second-to-last planned International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission.

SpaceX's Starhopper nails first untethered flight as CEO Elon Musk teases next test

Starhopper has completed its first untethered flight ever, simultaneously a small step for the awkward prototype and a giant leap for SpaceX's Starship/Super Heavy program as the next-gen launch vehicle is carried into a new phase: flight testing.

Despite the spectacular and reportedly successful hover and divert test, Starhopper's powerful Raptor engine appears to have started a significant fire, placing SpaceX's Starhopper pad in a precarious position per the fire's apparent adjacency to full liquid oxygen tanks. Ironically, despite Starhopper's seeming predilection as of late towards catching itself on fire, the large rocket testbed appears to be entirely unscorched as a brush fire burns around a few hundred feet distant.

[...] According to Elon Musk, the SpaceX CEO will present an update on the company's progress designing, building, and testing Starship and Super Heavy soon after Starhopper's first successful flight, meaning it could potentially happen within the next week or two. Additionally, Musk deemed Starhopper's July 25th flight a success and indicated that SpaceX would attempt to put Starhopper through a more ambitious 200m (650 ft) hop in a week or two, continuing what is expected to be an increasingly arduous serious of tests for the prototype.

SpaceX 'Starhopper' Highest-Ever Test Flight Early Next Week 8 comments

SpaceX is planning to attempt its highest hop ever of its new Starhopper prototype. This rocket is designed to test out certain capabilities and performance characteristics that will inform the development of SpaceX's upcoming Starship rocket (formerly known as BFR — Big 'Falcon' Rocket).

It looks like Elon Musk's Starship prototype, dubbed "Starhopper," has the green light to make its highest hop yet as soon as Monday.

SpaceX had planned to test the single-engine version of its eventual Mars vehicle with its second short flight last week, but the launch was abruptly canceled. Musk later tweeted that the Federal Aviation Administration required a bit more "hazard analysis" and Starhopper "should be clear to fly soon."

Now the FAA has posted a new airspace closure for the area around the SpaceX test facility in Boca Chica, Texas, beginning Monday afternoon and running through Wednesday night.

So it looks like we could finally see Starhopper make some serious maneuvers. Its last test hop was a short, nighttime 20-meter (66 feet) liftoff, hover and landing that was mostly obscured from view by fire, smoke and darkness.

This time the hope is that Starhopper will reach an altitude of around 650 feet (198 meters) before returning to the ground.

The NOTAM (Notices to Airmen) linked above specifies:


[...] Altitude: From the surface up to and including 8000 feet MSL

[...] Effective Dates:
From August 26, 2019 at 1900 UTC To August 27, 2019 at 0500 UTC
From August 27, 2019 at 1900 UTC To August 28, 2019 at 0500 UTC
From August 28, 2019 at 1900 UTC To August 29, 2019 at 0500 UTC

Also at:

Original Submission

Breaking News: SpaceX's Starhopper 150-Meter Test... Scrubbed for Monday; Try Again Tuesday at Same Time [Updated] 6 comments

[Update 20190827_002701 UTC: According to Elon Musk on Twitter:

Igniters need to be inspected. We will try again tomorrow same time.

In another tweet he explained:

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

See also: updated stories at Ars Technica and CNET.

Original story follows. --martyb]

Starhopper test live at

See also: SpaceX's Starhopper cleared by FAA for second and final flight test as locals urged to exit homes
LIVESTREAM: SpaceX Starhopper 150 meter test flight in Boca Chica, TX

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

How SpaceX plans to move Starship from Cocoa site to Kennedy Space Center

Starship will enter Kennedy Space Center by water next to the Vehicle Assembly Building and Launchpad 39A, according to a recently-released NASA environmental impact report.

That so-called "turn basin" is where other large rocket components have arrived at KSC by barge, including the Space Shuttle's external fuel tanks that were built in Louisiana. At 180 feet in height, Starship will be slightly taller and wider than the shuttle's orange fuel tanks.

SpaceX has not disclosed what type of flight tests the Starship prototype will undergo once it arrives at Kennedy Space Center.

Original Submission

SpaceX Completes Static Fire of Starship Prototype, Will Hop Next 4 comments

SpaceX completes static fire of Starship prototype, will hop next:

After scrubbing several attempts for weather concerns, technical issues, and even a range violation due to a nearby boat, SpaceX succeeded in static-fire testing the latest prototype of its Starship vehicle on Thursday.

At 3:02pm local time in South Texas, the single Raptor engine attached to the Starship prototype dubbed Serial Number 5, or SN5, roared to life for a few seconds. In video shared by, the test appeared to be nominal, evidently providing SpaceX engineers with the confidence they need in the latest iteration of Starship.

Starship SN5 just completed full duration static fire. 150m hop soon.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 30, 2020

Shortly after the test, the founder and chief engineer of SpaceX, Elon Musk, confirmed that the static fire meant the company now plans to move forward with a short test flight of the vehicle. Based upon a notification from the US Federal Aviation Administration, this 150-meter flight test could take place as soon as Sunday, with a launch window opening at 8am local time (13:00 UTC).

(2020-04-28) Starship Chilled. Starship Pressurized. and for the First Time, It Didn't Explode
(2020-04-03) SpaceX Almost Ready to Start Testing SN3 -- The Third Starship Prototype
(2019-11-21) Starship Prototype Mk1 Fails During Propellant Tank Loading Test: Onwards to Mk3
(2019-08-28) SpaceX's Starhopper Completes 150 Meter Test Hop

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday August 28 2019, @05:26PM (5 children)

    by takyon (881) <> on Wednesday August 28 2019, @05:26PM (#886895) Journal

    Scott Manley's video [] (10m22s) highlights some potential problems with the test (starting at 4:44).

    Basically some unexpected exhaust products that caused the flame to briefly change color even before it got close to the ground, maybe indicating breakage inside the engine and causing it to land harder than expected. And you can see a COPV flying away from the rocket in Everyday Astronaut's footage.

    They might have learned a lot more from this test than we thought. Raptor and/or Starship may need tweaks before the orbital prototypes can be fired up.

    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28 2019, @07:10PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28 2019, @07:10PM (#886936)

      Before the rocket got close to the ground, but not before the exhaust plume started interacting with the ground.

      At slow speed, it almost looks like the yellow stuff grew up from the ground to the engine.
      (there is a period with blue on top and yellow below.)

      Not sure how that could be if something changed in the engine first?

    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Wednesday August 28 2019, @09:39PM (3 children)

      by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday August 28 2019, @09:39PM (#886990)

      I heard that they were changing the mixture as part of the throttling, and that this would account for the color change.

      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28 2019, @11:24PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28 2019, @11:24PM (#887036)

        maybe, if they made it rich, it might turn yellow,
        but would that go yellow from top to bot or bot to top?

        This rocket science stuff is, well rocket science...

        • (Score: 2) by sjames on Thursday August 29 2019, @01:01AM

          by sjames (2882) on Thursday August 29 2019, @01:01AM (#887082) Journal

          The yellow would first appear at the tip. In this case closer to the ground.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 29 2019, @02:14AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 29 2019, @02:14AM (#887126)

          Rocket science it may be, but a rocket engine is not entirely unlike an oxyfuel torch. Play with one sometime if you get a chance.