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SpaceX "Big Falcon Rocket" Update - For those interested.
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: August 13, 2019 11:12PM
Just a little update on the progress towards the "Big Falcon Rocket" and it's "SuperHeavy" booster.

Currently, in Boca Chica Beach, Texas, the "StarHopper" low altitude test vehicle has successfully flown a couple "chained down" tests, and one 20 meter "up, move over, land" test with one Raptor rocket engine.

Believe you me, the water tower construction company that built the thrust frame and skin of the "StarHopper" were getting drunk and partying THAT night! Plus, having new business cards and stationary made "Water Tanks, Water Towers, and we make mutha $%^& ROCKETS, too!".

FAA flight clearances and road closure notices have been filed for a 200 meter altitude test on Aug 16.

It's not clear how many more test flights "StarHopper" will be used for, since the TWO full "Orbital Prototype" Starships are under construction. It was originally envisioned that StarHopper would fly a series of control system tests up to a couple thousand feet, but it appears that some of those test flights may have been shifted to the Orbital Prototypes.

Orbital Prototype "Mk 1" is being built in Boca Chica Beach, Texas, at SpaceX's launch facility. The rear cylinder and forward cone have been built by the water tank company over the past few months, and the rear and front tank bulkheads have been installed. Raptor engines have been shipped from Hawthorne, CA, to McGregor Texas for testing, before being sent to Boca Chica or Cape Canaveral. After a turbopump rapidly disassembled itself on the test stand with great enthusiasm, the first 4 prototype Raptors (Serial number 1 through 4) got refit with the newer "final" design turbopump. SpaceX has announced that they are in the process of going from "prototype engine" manufacturing, to mass production of the final "1.0" design. They expect to be turning out as many as 20 engines a month of the full flow, staged combustion, liquid methane/LOX BEAST of an engine by the fourth quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, in Florida, near Pad 39A, the OTHER Starship Orbital Prototype, the MK II is being assembled by the "rival" team of engineers. The two teams "Mk I and Mk II" are in friendly competition to see which team can work out the various processes to manufacture the biggest rocket in history that will take mankind back to the Moon, and to Mars.

The Mk II at the Cape has it's rear bulkhead (for the liquid methane and liquid oxygen tanks) installed, and has had it's nosecone "test fit" on the body. Both Mk I and Mk II will be 55 Meters in height, give or take a meter or so (the landing legs may change in design before they fly).

The Orbital Prototypes are scheduled to fly as early as spring of 2020. They will launch by themselves, with zero payload, and conduct re-entry and control system tests. The original goal was that they will be able to make orbit with very little, effectively zero, payload, but the Raptor engines have been slightly up-rated since then... but the Orbital Prototypes may get heavier than planned, too. Time will tell if they will actually be "Orbital" or "Almost Orbital". It's looking like they will be capable of orbit, but that's just on publicly released information and lots of speculation.

The other puzzle piece is "SuperHeavy". This will be the last piece built. Elon has said that the SuperHeavy booster in many ways will be the easiest. It's a much more straightforward "scale up" of "your basic rocket". I dunno about it being EASY, but SuperHeavy should begin construction (also scheduled for both Boca Chica, and Cape Canaveral, Florida at Pad 39A) either the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.

There is LOTS of skepticism about the time-lines of this project. But, there is also a great deal of surprise about how fast StarHopper went from a pile of stainless steel, to its 20 meter test flight.... And how fast both the Mk I and Mk II prototypes are coming together.

The next couple years are going to be very interesting, and very fun to watch, for fans of Big Rockets!

Paul F.
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.



Eureka, CA
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Re: SpaceX "Big Falcon Rocket" Update - For those interested.
Posted by: Racer X
Date: August 14, 2019 01:04AM
when there is a profit motive instead of white collar welfare, you just get stuff done.
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Re: SpaceX "Big Falcon Rocket" Update - For those interested.
Posted by: MrNoBody
Date: August 14, 2019 04:19AM
Racer X
when there is a profit motive instead of white collar welfare, you just get stuff done.
Oct. 21: Northrop Grumman will launch the Cygnus NG-12 cargo mission to the International Space Station.
It will lift off from Wallops Island, Virginia on an Antares rocket at 2:39 p.m. EDT (1839 GMT).

39°36'17"N 75°44'43"W

The search engine that doesn't track you.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/2019 04:21AM by MrNoBody.
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Re: SpaceX "Big Falcon Rocket" Update - For those interested.
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: August 14, 2019 02:27PM
Launchpad 39A is the historic mission workhorse at Kennedy

Since launching Apollo 4 in 1967, the pad was the site of all but one Apollo flights. Skylab launched from it, along with the three crewed flights to the space station. Then starting in 1981, the first 24 shuttle missions launched from it (I worked all but two of those launches - an incredible experience), along with the final 18 flights of the shuttle. It was also the launch tower used by the final flight of the Columbia (STS-107 in 2003).

Finally, it has been used by 15 flights of the Falcon 9, and all three Falcon Heavy flights.

So it seems like the fitting place to launch from.

“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
-- François de La Rochefoucauld

Growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/2019 02:29PM by Ombligo.
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Re: SpaceX "Big Falcon Rocket" Update - For those interested.
Posted by: sekker
Date: August 14, 2019 05:14PM
Great summary! Very exciting future ahead of us - one way or another...
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