SpaceX prepares sixth Starship prototype for hop


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Capitalism in space: Having moved its fifth Starship prototype back to its facility at Boca Chica for repairs to its legs following its first light, SpaceX is simultaneously preparing its sixth Starship prototype for its own hops.

They plan more short hops to smooth out the launch process, aiming for the ability to do several per day, followed later by a much higher altitude hop. Expect the next hop within about two weeks.

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14 comments

  • Steve Richter

    I assume Starship will consume a lot of rocket fuel. It is intended to launch multiple trips to the Moon and Mars? Are any of the components of rocket fuel or other launch consumables in short supply here on Earth?

    The concern being that 20 years from now rocket launches will become more and more expensive due to the scarcity of one or more of the items consumed by a launch.

  • Jay

    Nope. The Raptor engines use methane and oxygen. Both are plentiful and methane is easy to make chemically. You should read Dr. Zubrin’s “The Case for Mars” in which he writes about his “Mars Direct” and “Semi-Direct” missions in which fuel can be made on Mars.

  • LocalFluff

    @Jay, “methane and oxygen. Both are plentiful and methane is easy to make chemically.”
    Indeed! People should exhail and then fart (in that order, recommended) into a bottle and send it to SpaceX. So that they can say that they helped fuel human kind’s trip to Mars. Fuel isn’t the problem, that’s actually waste that comes for free as we simply live.

    Those who “assume” that rocket fuel is something magic, other than it is purified, are only impressed by fancy words without knowing what they are talking about. And the since 150 years falsified peak oil idea that we are somehow running out of the elements of the periodic table.

  • LocalFluff

    Rocket fuel is oozing out of all of us all of the time. It’s the same chemical reactions that fuel the vegetation, all the flowers, that also fuel the space rockets. Every straw of grass is burning the same rocket fuel as the Raptor engine, as they together strive to the sky.

  • Joe

    The only limit is the helium that is used. That is a scarce commodity made even more scarce by the U.S. Governments reckless sales of it after the cold war. You can’t make helium. You have to mine it (it is a byproduct of natural gas mining). That might end up being the only limit to this plan.

    Invent a way to use something other than helium for pressurization and you might make a small fortune.

  • Jay

    Joe,
    This is off topic, but I followed your link to your cube sat page. I saw that you partnered with AMSAT-UK, so do you do work with AMSAT-NA as well? Reason why I ask is my hobby is ham radio and I enjoy working the amateur radio satellites.

  • Call Me Ishmael

    “You can’t make helium. You have to mine it …”

    Well, you can, but …

  • Steve Richter

    “… The only limit is the helium that is used. …”

    it actually bothers me for this reason when I see birthday balloons! On the subject of helium, how would it ever have gotten trapped in the Earth to begin with? It is not bound to other atoms. As the Earth formed from matter clumping together, how would the helium ever clump to anything else? ( maybe the Earth coalesced at the same time as the Sun, so it was cold and the helium was frozen? )

  • Jay

    The helium created on Earth was created at its core and not frozen. The core is a giant nuclear reactor and one the products of the decay of uranium is helium as alpha particles. The alpha particle is just two protons, two neutrons, and no electrons – an isotope of helium. The alpha particle will eventually steal two electrons and become regular helium.
    Helium is extracted from natural gas, which is a mix of gases, mostly methane.

  • Ray Van Dune

    And I believe it was “discovered” in the Sun via its spectral lines, before being found on Earth. Thus its name “Helium”, after the Roman Sun god Helios.

  • Rose

    Joe: “Invent a way to use something other than helium for pressurization and you might make a small fortune.”

    Autogenous pressurization. It’s been done before and will be done again.

    The Space Shuttle’s RS-25 engines routed hot gaseous O2 and H2 back to the external tank to maintain pressure. See the outlets at the top of this SSME schematic: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9e/Ssme_schematic_(updated).svg

    ULA says that ACES (Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage), an eventual upgrade to Vulcan’s Centaur V upper stage, will utilize autogenous pressurization.

    And SpaceX says that Starship will utilize it as well.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Select, copy, paste, goto on entire link, including the “.svg”. Clicking don’t do it.

  • Joe

    Jay,

    I have been working on PocketQubes and CubeSats for a couple yearsnow. The Teachers in Space CubeSat is licensed and nearly ready to fly (October 2020). It will use a 437.1 MHz transceiver and we are teaming up with Amateur radio operators to work with it. Don’t know if it is okay to drop my email here, but let’s chat. Joe.latrell @ mini-cubes.com.

    Shameless plug – Sorry Bob. Delete if I am breaking rules.

  • Joe: I have no rules against shameless plugs. Plug away.

    And remember, I have myself plugged your work in a post. See:

    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/essays-and-commentaries/3d-printed-solar-panels-for-cubesats3d-solar-panels-for-cubesats/

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