SpaceX completes fit test of two sections of Starship hopper


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Capitalism in space: SpaceX has completed a fit test whereby they put the two main sections of their Starship hopper prototype together.

In a burst of activity that should probably be expected at this point but still feels like a complete surprise, SpaceX technicians took a major step towards completing the first Starship hopper prototype by combining the last two remaining sections (aft and nose) scarcely six weeks after assembly began.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also took to Twitter late last week to offer additional details and post what appears to be the first official render of Starship’s hopper prototype, which is now closer than ever before to looking like the real deal thanks to the incredible drive of the company’s southernmost employees. With the massive rocket’s rough aeroshell and structure now more or less finalized, Musk’s targeted February/March hop test debut remains ambitious to the extreme but is now arguably far from impossible.

More details about the status of both the Super Heavy and Starship here. As noted in the first link above, SpaceX is moving very quickly, at a pace unheard of in the rocket industry, to get these hopper prototypes ready for test flights. For example, this new effort at Boca Chica in Texas went from a barren spot to a full facility with a giant spacecraft in less than eight weeks.

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4 comments

  • Michael

    I specially liked the photo of the access arm interior.

    There was a fellow by the name if Gunter Wendt (yes, he was German but not a member of von Braun’s crowd). He was the head safety guy who was present for all manned launch closeouts up to STS-10.

    When I saw the sign I wondered what Gunter would think. Knowing him I think he would have smiled.

  • geoffc

    Worth noting, that while they are building a spaceship in a field, they do NOT have a full facility.

    The question the forums are abuzz with, is where shall it launch from? There is no pad. Launch from dirt? (3 X Raptor is 1.2 Mlbs of thrust, so F-9 first stage class) Concrete needs to be poured and cured for at least a month.

    On the other hand, they plan to land on unprepared Martian sufaces, so maybe they will test that early as well.

    On the gripping hand, they have no visible damper/spring system on the legs yet, which seems needed to safely land.

  • geoffc: You are right, this is not a full facility. In fact, I was struck by how slapped together the hopper looks. From its look I am not even sure it can fly at all, even for short test hops.

  • The pace may be unusual in the industry, but not among folks looking to make money.

    @geoffc:

    Points for “The Mote in God’s Eye” reference.

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