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Thread: SpaceX: Super Heavy, Starship, and Hopper (Starship Florida build site)

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    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    Default SpaceX: Super Heavy, Starship, and Hopper (Starship Florida build site)

    Much news, first things first

    Because of wanting to lean out the company, new launch system design reviews noted below (materials changes), and a culling of personnel with low annual review scores, SpaceX is laying off about 10% of their 7,000 employees. 577 are from Hawthorne and the rest are scattered. OTOH, there about 400 positions on their Careers page, many at KSC and in Seattle (the StarLink internet/data satellite centers.)

    Names (old:new) & schedules

    Big F'ing Rocket/BFR: Super Heavy (SH)
    Big F'ing Spaceship/BFS: Starship (SS)
    Landing test vehicle: Hopper, which is almost complete
    Orbital test vehicle: Starship Mk-1 under construction, due in June
    Super Heavy test vehicle: construction bgins spring 2019

    Major changes due to PDR have actually accelerated the schedule by several months, with the first Hopper test flights coming in a few weeks. Maiden flight of the full stack 2020-ish.

    OUT:
    composite structures,
    passive ablative main heat shield,
    vacuum version of Raptor CH4/LOX engine.

    IN:
    cryogenically formed 300 series stainless steel and superalloy structures,
    active main heat shield cooled by liquid methane,
    uprated Raptor engine using a dual-bell altitude compensating nozzle,
    Hopper will use 3 of the uprated Raptor engines.

    These material changes mean most people hired to build large composite structures are no longer needed.

    Caveats:
    the vacuum Raptor engine may return later,
    heat shields for hot spots; canard and fin leading edges, tips etc., look to be NASA's Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Composite (TUFROC.)

    SpaceX says the stainless steel & superalloy structures, and active liquid methane main heat shield, will make both SH and SS look like "liquid silver"

    The Hopper, a very retro KISS testbed for the Raptor engines and new landing software, has been built in the open air at SpaceX's under construction Boca Chica launch center - 20+ miles east of Brownsville Texas. To build the tank-like engine bay they called in Caldwell, a company which builds high strength water towers. Watching it be built has been quite a show.

    When construction started before Christmas everyone thought Hopper was a water tower,



    Then it became clear this wasn't a water tower,



    Now, things are getting very real...

    Elon Musk ✔ @elonmusk
    This is for suborbital VTOL tests. Orbital version is taller, has thicker skins (won't wrinkle) & a smoothly curving nose section.







    These renderings show numeric and relative vehicle sizes,

    Space Shuttle, Hopper and Starship




    Saturn V, Super Heavy/Starship, Falcon 9
    Last edited by Dr Mordrid; 15th January 2019 at 00:31.
    Dr. Mordrid
    ----------------------------
    An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.

    I carry a gun because I can't throw a rock 1,250 fps

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