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SpaceX about to install engines on Starship hopper

Capitalism in space: Late last week SpaceX officials revealed that they are about to install the first two Raptor engines on their Starship hopper prototype being assembled at the Texas spaceport.

According to an official SpaceX statement, once Raptor is installed on Starhopper, the integrated vehicle will perform a combination of ground systems testing, propellant loading, static fire tests, and low-altitude hover demonstrations to prove out the brand new vehicle, engine, and facilities. Prior to the final months of 2018, the build site, launch pad, and prototype Starship now preparing for imminent hop tests were little more than empty dirt lots on the southern tip of the Texas coast.

…“SpaceX will conduct checkouts of the newly installed ground systems and perform a short static fire test in the days ahead,” he said. “Although the prototype is designed to perform sub-orbital flights, or hops, powered by the SpaceX Raptor engine, the vehicle will be tethered during initial testing and hops will not be visible from offsite. SpaceX will establish a safety zone perimeter in coordination with local enforcement and signage will be in place to alert the community prior to the testing.” – James Gleeson, March 8th, SpaceX

It is not clear when these first hopper tests will occur, but based on the pace that SpaceX is setting, it should not be too far into the future. Before that however they will likely need to first do some static fire tests, on the ground.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • geoffc

    There is an image of a naked Raptor in repose here:

  • Col Beausabre

    Man, can’t they come up with a better name than “hopper” ? I get visions of a flaming commode screaming into space….

  • Gary M.

    Yes, that “hopper” description bugs me too. There has to be something better.

  • Michael

    geoffc: sitting right out in the open.

    Reminds me of when they delivered the first OMS pod to KSC. They trucked it from St Louis. I had this vision of it sitting in the parking lot of every bar/cafe between here and there. But the minute it hit the gate at KSC it could not make it to the HMF without a 10 vehicle convoy complete with flashing lights.

  • Col Beausabre

    Michael – Ya forgot the strip joints….

  • geoffc

    @Michael Apparently it came in crated, was unpacked outside, then moved into the tent. That picture is a very rare, Raptor at rest.

  • Brian

    Hopper is referring to a grass hopper that hops, hence the original Falcon 9 first stag test vehicle tests in McGregor were short hops leading to progressively bigger hops. They just shortened Grass Hopper to Hopper is all.

  • Brian

    So they just they just carried the F9 first stage test name over to the Starship short hop tests to be called the Starship Hopper.

  • Col Beausabre

    Brian, Do you think I don’t know that ? The point I am making is that in many places in this vast land, a “hopper” is what you deposit excrement in. When things plans fail, they end up in “the hopper”. Which leads to my original point, from a PR standpoint, it’s a lousy name with negative baggage. What 12 year old is going to be inspired by “Hopper” ?

  • wayne

    Col / Gary–
    yeah– I second that motion, a better Name could have been found.

    The Hopper and The Joey

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