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The Starhops has begun! – The Universe today




According to Elon Musk, SpaceXs Starship Hopper completed only his initial jump test on the company's South Texas Launch Site. As the first of many, this test is intended to validate the sophisticated Raptor engines to be used aboard the spacecraft Starship which is primarily for Musk's long-term vision of offering intercontinental flights and making commercial trips to the moon and March.

The news was shared via twitter, where Musk retweette a post and a video from Next Spaceflight creator Michael Baylor and twitter using LabPadre . Baylor and LabPadre were present to witness the test and live-tweeted event. The video has an 1[ads1]1 second clip where Starship Hopper through a mist of fog, can be seen shooting its Raptor engines. Baylor tweeted at 5:58 pm PDT (8:58 pm EDT):

"HOT FIRE !!! Raptor comes to life at the foot of Starhopper, as the vehicle performs a close jump on SpaceX's Boca Chica launch facility. This is the first firing of a rocket engine at the launch site . "

Musk followed this up half an hour later by indicating what they had seen was a successful stretched jump test. And while this was a baby step along the long way to carry out orbital and interplanetary flights, this test has opened the door to unbound testing and provided additional validation for the Raptor engine.

The engine was already running high after the successful test celebration that took place back in February. Not only was the test successful, it set a new record for the combustion chamber pressure, and broke the previous record held by the Soviet era RD-180 thruster with a margin of 1% – 26.89 MPa (3,900 psi) versus 26.7 MPa (3,870 psi).

During this test, the fuel was maintained at temperatures low enough to remain in liquid state. Musk has indicated that when the fuel is kept at cryogenic temperatures, it will increase efficiency by as much as 20%. Now that Raptor engines have been part of an integrated aircraft, SpaceX is a step closer to the construction of full-scale Starship – which will have 31 Raptor engines.

This successful jumping test is the culmination of five weeks worth of preparation and integration, which began back in mid-March. This included a series of "wet dress test" (WDR) where the vehicle was loaded with propellant and avionics and plumbing was tested. The last step was to ignite the Raptor engine and see how its cryogenic systems, pressure systems and engine nozzles went.

Raptor engine undergoing test firing at SpaceX's Rocket Development and Test Facility near McGregor, Texas. Credit: SpaceX

It was during this time that a technical problem with the engine's cryogenic systems forced a delay. Initially, the ground crew discovered that there was a slight accumulation of ice in the fuel samples, which was the result of the fluid being oxygenated and methane fuel being over-pressurized. This came after Starship Hopper was beaten by high winds at the end of January, which damaged the nasal cone.

But with the first jump test completed, SpaceX appears to be back on track, and is expected to complete the construction of a full-scale orbital prototype within this summer (or early 2020). Musk also hopes that Starship will be ready to make cargo flights by 2022, the first lunar passenger flight by 2023, and the first crew of Mars by 2024, followed by the construction of Mars Base Alpha by 2028.

More photos and videos of the successful jumping test have become available since the news was first broken. Here is a video that is a little clearer, thanks to NASA Spaceflight member @BocaChicaGal :

Further reading: Teslarati

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