- SpaceX has built a stainless steel rocket vessel at the starting point near Boca Chica Beach, located at the southern tip of Texas.
- "Test Hopper" is the first, but only partially functional prototype of Starship: a launch system that SpaceX founder Elon Musk hopes to use to send people to Mars.
- A sheriff's hand-delivered road closure announces accommodation on Friday according to a source living near Boca Chica Beach. The document warned the locals that SpaceX should "perform testing" as soon as Monday, March 18.
- SpaceX earlier said that the test jumper "will be destroyed during the first test" and that any of its "hops" – short vertical takeoffs and landings – will not appear "from offsite."
- A resident did not report getting the message. The person also claims that SpaceX promised a schedule for launch activities but has not yet acquired one.
SpaceX, the airline founded by Elon Musk and led by Gwynne Shotwell, is about to test the launch of its first rocket launch prototype designed to send people to Mars according to a document reviewed by Business Insider.
SpaceX can start shooting its prototype "Test Hopper" as soon as Monday, according to a message filled in mailboxes from some residents near Boca Chica Beach, located at the southernmost tip of Texas.
SpaceX began to build its launch site in Boca Chica 2014 for the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. But Musk said in early 2018 that Boca Chica "will be devoted to" the new Mars vehicle, called Starship.
On March 8, SpaceX demanded the lower part of his mirror-polished Test Hopper out to a launch pad at Boca Girl. Shortly thereafter, engineers sent a single truck of Raptor rocket, the latest and most powerful machine that SpaceX has ever developed – to the base of the vehicle.
Testhopper cannot start in space, but it will be crucial hardware and ideas that SpaceX needs to create a full-scale Starship (formerly called Big Falcon Rocket).
If fully excluded, Starship can stand about 400 meters long, be fully reusable and use a "bleeding" atmospheric reentry system, and whether Musk's "wanted" dreams for the system become true , Starship can reach orbit 2020, send its first crew around the moon in 2023 and launch the first people against Mar si 2024. In the end, 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 The work of his testmaker
Comments from a company representative, as well as the message reported to some Boca Chica residents, suggest that SpaceX will try Test Hopper's first integrated rocket engine firing as soon as Monday, followed by tied "hop" test launch shortly after.
Why important "Test Hopper" launches are imminent
Test Hopper cannot fly into an orbit around the Earth. It is a relatively uneven and knee-bent machine, with its lower part about 60 meters long. The rocket shooter is designed to fly on short "hops" that do not go more than about 16,400 feet in the air, according to a Federal Communications Commission application.
In January, Musk said his company would build a higher, track-capable version around June "and that the rocket ship would have" "thicker skins (will not wrinkle)" and a smooth bent nose. " The timeline is now uncertain, as the gale-force Texas winds blew over and injured the test shopper's nose cone in February. Musk said the day of the event that it would take weeks to repair the nosekon.
Nosecone or not, SpaceX advances with the earliest test launches of its test jumpers at a launch pad on the beach.
"SpaceX will conduct checkouts for the newly installed ground systems and perform a short static fire test in the next few days," a SpaceX representative told Business Insider in a mail last week.
A "static fire" ignites a rocket engine to ensure that it works, but the vehicle it is on – in this case, the Test Hopper – is held down so as not to lift the ground. Such tests help engineers find and troubleshoot any problems before attempting to launch seriously.
"Although the prototype is designed to perform sub-orbital flights or hops operated by the SpaceX Raptor engine, the vehicle will be switched on during the first test and hops will not be seen from the offsite," representatives said. "SpaceX will create a security zone perimeter in coordination with local enforcement and signs will be in place to alert the community before testing."
A local sheriff gave a paper warning about the test to the residents before the weekend, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The message that Business Insider received a photo of, said:
"BOCA CHICA VILLAGE RESIDENTS MESSAGE"
"SpaceX plans to conduct testing as soon as the week of March 18, 2019 on the company's Web site near Boca Chica Beach, Cameron County, Texas During these tests, SpaceX will set up a security zone perimeter in coordination with local law enforcement, Signage will be in place prior to testing to warn the community of temporary closures of Highway 4 and Boca Chica Beach. "Boca Chica Village residents will have access to their homes during the test."
The printed message also included a labeled Google Ma p, reproduced below and the following text to accompany it:
"[T] vi temporary checkpoints will be established on motorway 4. Persons exhibiting residence permits between the two control points may continue through the soft checkpoint unkten. Access beyond the hard checkpoint will not be allowed during temporary closures. "
"We deserve the courtesy"
The hard checkpoint is about 1.5 miles west of SpaceX's pillow, as well as the easternmost residences of Boca Chica Village.
In contrast, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida allows visitors to witness launch activity not closer than 3 miles from its best-known launch plate.
Read more : I saw SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket thunder into place for the first time – here's how it was on the ground
A resident of The Boca Chica Village community, who asked not to be named, told Business Insider that the sheriff never announced it. The resident also said that a SpaceX representative t previously undertaken to provide schedules for launches but have not yet done so. "We deserve the courtesy" from SpaceX, the resident said, given the ultimate location of the launch site to housing.
Even Cameron County's judge Eddie Treviño did not seem to know the nature or schedule of SpaceX's test plans when he approved the roads closed on Thursday.
"It's exciting and we know we're continuing to move closer and closer to the first test, or what to do," says Treviño, according to The Brownsville Herald. "We wish them all the best and we are happy."
SpaceX did not immediately ask Business Insider questions regarding the size of the safety limit and potential risks for the residents of Test Hopper static fires and hops. The company submitted environmental impact claims in May 2014, which discussed launch risks and security measures, but these documents do not describe a test program related to Test Hopper or launches of extremely large Mars compatible vehicles.
But for his part, Musk has at least teased the possibility for several years.
"It may well be that the first person departing for another planet will depart from this location," he said during a groundbreaking ceremony in September 2014.