Maria Pointer (bocachicaMaria)
SpaceX has built a stainless steel rocket ship at its starting point near Boca Chica Beach, located at the southern tip of Texas.
- "Test Hopper" is the first but partially functional prototype of Starship: a launch system that SpaceX founder Elon Musk hopes to use to send people to Mars.
- A sheriff hand-delivered road closure notifies residents on Friday, according to a local resident. The document warned the locals that SpaceX will "test" as soon as Monday, March 18.
- SpaceX earlier said that test jumpers "will be tamed during the first test" and that any of its "hops" – short vertical launches and landings – will not be visible "from offsite".
- Musk later confirmed on Twitter that SpaceX is hoping to try its first "very short" Test Hopper flights this week.
- A resident did not report receiving the message. The person also claims that SpaceX promised a schedule for launch activities, but has not yet delivered one.
This story has been updated with new information. It was originally published at. 9:41 AM EDT.
SpaceX, the airline founded by Elon Musk and led by Gwynne Shotwell, is testing the launch of its first rocket ship prototype designed to send people to Mars, according to a document by Business Insider .
The company can start shooting up the "Test Hopper" prototype as soon as Monday, according to a message posted in the mailboxes of some residents near Boca Chica Beach, which is at the southernmost tip of Texas.
SpaceX began building its launch site in Boca Chica in 2014 for the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. But Musk said in early 2018 that Boca Chica "will be dedicated to" the new Mars vehicle, called Starship.
On March 8, SpaceX searched the bottom of its mirrored test hopper for a launch pad at Boca Chica. Recently, engineers joined a single Raptor rocket engine with a truck size – the newest and most powerful machine MachineXX ever developed – to the bottom of the vehicle.
Test Hopper cannot start in space, but it will try crucial hardware and ideas that SpaceX will create a full-scale Starship (formerly called Big Falcon Rocket).
© Kimi TalvitieStarship is designed to have two fully recyclable parts – a Starship spaceship and "Super Heavy" booster – stand about 400 feet tall and use a "bleeding" atmospheric reentry system.
If Musk's "hopeful" dreams come true for the system, Starship can reach circulation in 2020, send its first crew around the moon in 2023 and launch the first humans against Mars in 2024. Ultimately, it can ferry up to 100 people and 150 tons of goods at a time to the red planet.
Read more: Life in a bubble: How we can fight hunger, loneliness and radiation on Mars
But first, SpaceX must prove the basic concepts behind Starship's work with its Test Hopper.
Comments from a company representative as well as the announcement allegedly entrusted to some Boca Chica residents suggest that SpaceX will try Test Hopper's first integrated rocket engine as soon as Monday, followed by bound "hop" trial launches shortly. then.
After the release of this story, Musk confirmed that SpaceX hopes to try to jump this week.
"Always a lot of trouble integrating engine and scene," Musk tweeted, with a stage referring to the prototype chasis. "First hop off but only barely."
Why Decisive Test Hopper & # 39; Launches can take place this week
Copyright Jaime Almaguer
Test Hopper cannot fly into orbit around Earth. It is a relatively raw and squat machine, with its lower section standing about 60 feet high. The rocket ship is designed to fly on short flights of no more than about 16,400 feet in the air, according to a Federal Communications Commission application.
Musk too tweeted Sunday that the first attempt would be "really short" with a single Raptor engine, but noted that the rocket ship could do "suborbital flights with three".
In January, Musk said his company would build a higher-level stand-by version "around June" and it the rocket ship would have "thicker skins (won't wrinkle) & a smooth curved nose section." This timeline is now uncertain as the mad force Texas winds blew over and damaged Test Hopper's nosecone in February.
Elon Musk / SpaceX via Twitter
Musk said the day of the incident that it would take weeks to repair the nosekon. On Sunday, however, Musk suggested that the work has been abandoned – and that SpaceX is currently building the first "full size"Starship prototype of its properties in Boca Chica, he said.
"We decided to skip building a new nose wife to Hopper. Don't need it," Musk tweeted. "What you see being built is the orbital starship vehicle."
With the nosekon in the scrap bin, SpaceX now moves forward with its earliest test launches of Test Hopper on a beach launch pad.
"SpaceX will conduct a checkout of the newly installed earth systems and perform a short static fire test in the coming days," a SpaceX representative for Business Insider said in an email last week.
Read more: SpaceX test-fired a giant rocket engine with crazy power & # 39; to the Moon and Mars missions. The future of Elon Musk & # 39; s company can run on its unmatched performance.
A "static fire" lights up a rocket motor to make sure it works, but the vehicle on which it is – in this case, test jumpers – is held down so as not to lift off the ground. Such tests help engineers find and troubleshoot any problems before attempting a launch seriously.
"Although the prototype is designed to perform sub-orbital flights or hops powered by the SpaceX Raptor engine, the vehicle will be tampered with during the first test, and hops will not be visible from the offsite," the company's representative added. "SpaceX will establish a security zone perimeter in coordination with local enforcement and signage will be in place to alert the community prior to testing."
Identification required to go home
Before the weekend, a local sheriff delivered pieces of paper that informed residents of the tests, according to someone who was familiar with the situation.
The message Business Insider received a photo said:
"NOTE TO BOCA CHICA VILLAGE RESIDENTS"
"SpaceX plans to test as soon as the week of March 18, 2019 on the company's site near Boca Chica Beach, Cameron County, Texas. During these tests, SpaceX will establish a security zone perimeter in coordination with local law enforcement. Signage will be on room prior to testing to alert the community of any temporary closure of Highway 4 and Boca Chica Beach.
"Boca Chica Village residents will have access to their home during testing."
The alleged message also contained a tagged Google Map, reproduced below, and the following text to accompany it:
"[T]Wo temporary checkpoints will be established on Highway 4. Persons providing proof of stay between the two checkpoints are allowed to continue through the soft checkpoint. Access beyond the hard checkpoint will not be allowed during temporary closures. "
Google Maps; Business Insider
The paper message was not signed by anyone who was not given any contact information, and did not name a government agency or party responsible for the issue, according to a house.
"Who tells us about our rights or lack of it?" Homeowner who asked to remain anonymous told Business Insider in an email.
A call to the Cameron County Sheriff office over the weekend was answered by a 911 operator. The operator refused to post a message and said that no one at the sheriff's office could provide information on the announcement on Monday.
"We deserve the courtesy"
SpaceX via Elon Musk / Twitter
The hard control point is approx. 1.5 km west of SpaceX & # 39; s launch pad, as well as the easternmost homes in Boca Chica Village.
In comparison, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida allows visitors to witness launch activity not closer than 3 miles away from the famous launch complex, called LC-39A.
Read more: I saw SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket thunder in space for the first time – here's how it was on the ground
Another member of the Boca Chica Village community who also asked not to be named, told Business Insider that the sheriff never informed their home. The resident also said that a SpaceX representative previously committed to delivering launch schedules, but has not yet done so.
"We deserve the courtesy" from SpaceX, said the resident, given the proximity of the launch site to housing.
Cameron County's judge, Eddie Treviño, also seemed unaware of the nature or timing of SpaceX's future test plans as he approved Highway 4 road closures (the only way to and from Boca Chica Beach, SpaceX and the village).
"It's exciting and we know we're continuing to get closer and closer to the first test or what they want to do," said Treviño on Thursday, according to The Brownsville Herald. "We wish them good luck and we are excited."
SpaceX did not immediately respond to Business Insider questions regarding the size of the scope of security and potential risks posed by static fires and hops to residents.
The company submitted the necessary environmental impacts in May 2014, detailing the launch risks and safety measures. But these documents apply to Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket launches; They do not describe a test program similar to Test Hopper or launches of extremely large Mars-capable vehicles.
But for his part, Musk has at least teased the opportunity for years.
"It may well be that the first person going to another planet will deviate from this location," he said during a groundbreaking ceremony in September 2014.
On Sunday, Musk suggested that the opportunity move one step closer to reality, although he also revealed that Boca Chica will not be the only place that SpaceX hopes to center its interplanetary Starship operations.
"Working on regulatory approval for both Boca Chica, Texas and Cape Kennedy, Florida," Musk tweeted. "Will also build Starship & Super Heavy simultaneously in both places."
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