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

Accepted submission by takyon at 2019-07-26 12:51:34
Techonomics

SpaceX Falcon 9 booster nails landing in lead-up to next NASA-sponsored reuse milestone [teslarati.com]

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 NASASpaceflight.com [nasaspaceflight.com], 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 [teslarati.com]

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 CEO Elon Musk posts uncut Raptor, drone videos of Starhopper's flight test debut [teslarati.com]

Some two hours after Starhopper's inaugural untethered flight, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to post an uncut video showing the ungainly rocket's launch and landing from the perspective of both a drone and Starhopper's lone Raptor engine.

As noted by commenters, Starhopper's first flight also marks perhaps an even more fascinating milestone: it's technically the first launch ever of a full-flow staged-combustion (FFSC) rocket engine. Whether or not the development hell Raptor required is or was worth it to SpaceX, the company has become the first and only entity on Earth to develop and fly a FFSC engine, beating out the national space agencies of both the United States and Soviet Union, both of which built – but never flew – prototypes.

Everyday Astronaut footage [youtu.be] (starting at 4:40:19).

Previously: SpaceX's Starship Will Now be Made of Stainless Steel, With Tests Still Scheduled for Early 2019 [soylentnews.org]
Elon Musk: Why I'm Building the Starship Out of Stainless Steel [soylentnews.org]
In New Starship Details, Musk Reveals a More Practical Approach [soylentnews.org]
Elon Musk Posts Starship Raptor Rocket Engine Test [soylentnews.org]
Elon Musk Shows off Fiery SpaceX Starship Heatshield Test [soylentnews.org]
SpaceX Targeting 2021 for First Starship Commercial Launch [soylentnews.org]
SpaceX's Starhopper Prototype to Make First Untethered Hop Soon [soylentnews.org]
SpaceX Starhopper Raptor Engine Fireball on Pad Erupts [soylentnews.org]


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