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SpaceX's Starhopper Prototype to Make 1st Untethered Hop Soon, Musk Says

Accepted submission by martyb at 2019-07-09 15:08:49 from the history in the making dept.
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SpaceX's Starhopper Prototype to Make 1st Untethered Hop Soon, Musk Says [space.com]:

The company has apparently fixed an issue with the vehicle's Raptor engine.

SpaceX is getting ready to let Starhopper off its leash.

Starhopper, a prototype for the company's future Mars-colonizing Starship vehicle, has conducted two brief test hops to date [space.com]. Both occurred in early April at SpaceX's Boca Chica test site near Brownsville, Texas, and both employed a tether, which kept Starhopper very close to the ground (for safety's sake).

SpaceX had apparently been holding off on taking the next big testing step — removing the tether and letting Starhopper fly freely — until it could fix an issue with the vehicle's powerful, next-generation Raptor engine. But that problem seems to be solved, company founder and CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter over the weekend.

Exciting progress in Boca! Hopper almost ready to hover. Based on tonight’s test, looks like 600 Hz Raptor vibration problem is fixed. pic.twitter.com/9bLWOHG0sV July 7, 2019 [twitter.com]

Later that day, musk sent out another tweet:

Will do Starship presentation a few weeks after Hopper hovers, so prob late July. If that timing works, free LJ chips for all present! July 7, 2019 [twitter.com]

Watching the progress of SpaceX and its rocket developments reminds me of the thrills of watching NASA's Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo development efforts. The 50th anniversary of the July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 landing on the moon [nasa.gov] is fast approaching. Were I on the SpaceX team, I know I would be doing everything I could to try and get the Hopper flying by then! Any bets?


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