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Starship fifth prototype set for first 500 foot hop

Capitalism in space: SpaceX fifth Starship prototype has passed all of its static fire tests and is now ready for its first flight, a 500 foot vertical hop.

That hop should occur within days.

I have embedded a nice video that summarizes well all of the work being done right now at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas, including the construction of large assembly buildings for both Starship and Super Heavy.

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.


  • Jay

    All the past tests used one single raptor engine and I wondered if this one was going to use multiple due to the planned 150m height. I confirmed that they will be using one engine for this test.

    SpaceX’s Starship design of 31 engines always reminded me of the Russian’s N-1 with the 30 engines. SpaceX is approaching this design from the angle of testing everything first and scaling up. I read about the N-1 and they pretty much put together the components, skipped some integration testing steps, and went for launch. I am sure the quality control for the Raptor is a lot better than the NK-15.

  • Jay: One more point to SpaceX’s advantage: They have considerable experience making nine engines work together on Falcon 9. That knowledge is directly applicable to Super Heavy.

  • Peter Monta

    And, indeed, managing the 27 engines for Falcon Heavy. I think they staggered the ignition events on FH for the first few events, then changed to all at once, so there was some iteration there. Not sure what the plan is for Super Heavy.

  • Captain Emeritus

    At ignition, Soyuz lights THIRTY motors by pyrotechnic flares mounted on birch poles, aka, a 4’ match!
    They strike the matches (electrically) at T-20 before the fuel or oxidizer is introduced.
    With 1700 tries since 1966, they have it down pretty good.

  • Rose

    Jay, an interesting thing about the SN5 prototype flight vs. the Starhopper flight of last August is that while they both use a single Raptor engine, the engine was centered on Starhopper, whereas it is offset on SN5, since it is mounted one of the three inner positions of a proper Starship thrust puck. (Starship will eventually fly with three inner Sea Level Raptor engines and 3 outer Vacuum optimized Raptors.)

    So when SN5 lifts off, we should expect a bit of a “power slide” (as with the Atlas V 411), where it will translate horizontally a bit as it starts its way up. We should also expect a bit of cant as it flies. How much, I don’t know, but I’m expecting it to be visible.

  • Jay

    Wow! I did not know about the offset on the engine. It will be an interesting test.

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