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SpaceX flight testing in South Texas

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SpaceX flight testing in South Texas

Old 15th Apr 2021, 08:06
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Cryo tests complete on SN15. BN1 chopped in half and dismantled. It's all go at Boca Chica!

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Old 17th Apr 2021, 12:04
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Old 19th Apr 2021, 11:36
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Good article covering not only the imminent test of SN15 but those of SN16 to 20 and BN2 and 3 and orbital launch pad preparations.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2021...a-vindication/

Starship SN15 prepares for flight following major NASA vindication

Starship SN15 is expected to undergo a Static Fire test as early as Tuesday to clear the path for a test flight no earlier than Wednesday as SpaceX’s rapidly reusable interplanetary launch and landing system gained a massive sign of NASA approval – and a ton of government cash to boot.....

With the vehicle arriving at the launch site a week ago, SN15 underwent proof testing events before Raptor installation, allowing Thrust Rams to test the Thrust Puck, one of the other modifications that will debut with SN15. During this process,

SN15 was filled with ambient gaseous nitrogen before the cryogenic testing with liquid nitrogen completed proof testing, including the Header Tanks that play a vital role in the landing sequence.

The three Raptors (SN54, SN61 and SN66 - sporting the green nozzles that have been observed during testing at SpaceX McGregor - then rolled to the launch site for installation. As previously noted by Elon Musk, all three are upgraded engines.

Installation tasks began ahead of the weekend, with the goal of readiness for the opening Static Fire test window on Monday, April 19. However, that soon slipped on Sunday to a NET (No Earlier Than) of Tuesday for the Static Fire test.

Once the Static Fire test has been completed, SpaceX will conduct a data review. On several previous occasions, the data has called for an engine swap. As such, a clean data review ahead of the Launch Readiness Review (LRR) would be a step forward for the Raptors.

While the earliest launch opportunity is now Wednesday, SN15’s flight is still waiting for the final green light from a documentation standpoint, which will come from the FAA. As of Sunday the FAA classed that approval as “pending”.

Additional factors in play this week for launch operations will be local weather conditions......
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Old 21st Apr 2021, 12:22
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https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-sta...ors-installed/

SpaceX Starship outfitted with upgraded Raptor engines for Wed static fire

SpaceX has installed at least two of three new upgraded Raptors on Starship serial number 15 (SN15) ahead of a triple-engine static fire scheduled as early as Wednesday, April 21st.

Initially scheduled late last week, several unknown delays have slowed down the installation of SN15’s three engines and forced SpaceX to return at least one to its build site for additional work. As recently as this weekend, SpaceX appeared to have plans to static fire Starship SN15 on Monday and launch the rocket the very next day – April 20th (4/20). Those plans obviously didn’t work out.......

Captured by several different unofficial photographers, Raptor engines SN54, SN61, and SN66 were simultaneously transported to the launch pad on April 15th. SN61 and SN66 were quickly installed in a few days but SN54 was ultimately returned to the build site for additional work before heading back to the pad for a successful installation on SN15 on April 19th. The differences between these “new” Raptors and older engines (SN1-SN53) isn’t entirely clear but subtle differences in plumbing layout and installed components suggests a general step-change refinement across the entire engine design.

Time will tell if the many upgrades on Starship SN15 and its Raptor engines will combine to produce a more reliable and more successful vehicle. Pending a successful static fire, SN15 will be the fifth Starship to attempt a high-altitude flight as early as the end of this week or sometime next week.
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 11:17
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https://www.pprune.org/newreply.php?...e=1&p=11028473

Starship SN15 conducts a Static Fire test – McGregor readies increased Raptor testing capacity

Starship SN15 conducted a pre-launch Static Fire test Monday, tasked with setting the scene this week for a flight that could pave the way toward an orbital flight in the coming months.

The groundwork for the push to orbit is taking place both at the Orbital Launch Site and elsewhere in Texas as a new dual-bay Raptor test stand nears completion.


Since arriving at the Suborbital Launch Site, SN15 has undergone several “risk reduction” tests ahead of firing up her trio of Raptors. That included the usual routine of proof testing the vehicle, filling and pressurizing the tanks with ambient, gaseous nitrogen before proceeding with cryogenic testing with liquid nitrogen.

The roads were closed for additional testing late last week, although not for a Static Fire test. This time, the vehicle was loaded with Liquid Oxygen before a LOX Dump test, aimed at improvements relating to safing the vehicle ahead of and after flight, was completed.

With limited opportunities to conduct weekend testing, that requires Highway 4 to be closed to the public, SpaceX opted to move the Static Fire attempt to Monday. A three engine test did occur just prior to 5pm local time.

An eight-hour window was available for the opportunity to fire up the SN54, SN61, and SN66 Raptors, which was followed by a quick look data review. Occasionally, such reviews have found issues with one of the engines, requiring a swap out and repeat of the test in the following days.

The potential of a recycle later in the day remained on the cards, given SpaceX likes to test the engine’s use of propellant from the Header Tanks. These small tanks are located at the top of the nosecone (LOX) and the middle of the vehicle (CH4 – Liquid Methane) and supply the engines for the flip and landing burn.

However, Enron Musk tweeted the static fire was good and that they were preparing for launch later this week. It is yet to be confirmed if that concluded the test requirements, with another Static Fire noticed posted later on Monday for a Tuesday test......

Moving on from those initial series of test with SN8 through SN11, SN15 is the first vehicle to sport improvements ranging from the Thrust Puck to her avionics, and, importantly, the Raptor engines. Other improvements have not been revealed, although may include the Header Tank system, which, in total, would form a mitigation path to the issues suffered by previous Starship prototypes.

Regardless, should SN15 suffer issues, SN16 is already being stacked in the Mid Bay. However, if SN15 nails the landing, the path forward becomes less clear, albeit even more exciting.

As seen after the successful 150-meter hops of SN5 and SN6, SpaceX’s original plan to conduct a tag-team approach of repeating tests with these two vehicles was canceled. Instead, the program pushed forward to SN8 and the first high altitude test.

Should SN15 complete all the required high altitude test objectives, SpaceX may repeat the test or push to a higher altitude.

Elon Musk could even opt to switch to the involvement of Super Heavy, which may involve a booster-only flight, or the previously reported BN3 and SN20 orbital flight.
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Old 30th Apr 2021, 08:33
  #126 (permalink)  
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Looking good for an SN15 launch today. Additional static tests took place on Monday and Tuesday including if the header tank system. Video links go love about 1200 UTC.

Meanwhile....

https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/29/fa...test-launches/

FAA authorizes SpaceX’s next three Starship test launches

SpaceX is continuing its Starship spacecraft testing and development program apace, and as of this afternoon it has authorization from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct its next three test flights from its launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.

Approvals for prior launch tests have been one-offs, but the FAA said in a statement that it’s approving these in a batch because “SpaceX is making few changes to the launch vehicle and relied on the FAA’s approved methodology to calculate the risk to the public.”....


In its statement about the authorization of the next three attempts, the FAA noted that the investigation into what happened with SN11 and its unfortunate ending is still in progress, but added that even so, the agency has determined any public safety concerns related to what went wrong have been alleviated.

The three-launch approval license includes flights of SN16 and SN17 as well as SN15, but the FAA noted that after the first flight, the next two might require additional “corrective action” prior to actually taking off, pending any new “mishap” occurring with the SN15 launch.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has at time criticized the FAA for not being flexible or responsive enough to the rapid pace of iteration and testing that SpaceX is pursuing in Starship’s development.

On the other side, members of Congress have suggested that the FAA has perhaps not been as thorough as necessary in independently investigating earlier Starship testing mishaps.

The administration contends that the lack of any ultimate resulting impact to public safety is indicative of the success of its program thus far, however.

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Old 3rd May 2021, 23:28
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The weather has been a bit rough over in Boca Chica this week. Launch now optimised for tomorrow, which is Star Wars day so what could possibly go wrong?
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Old 4th May 2021, 16:42
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Scrubbed till Wednesday...
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Old 5th May 2021, 16:15
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Here we go. Lets try again.

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Old 5th May 2021, 23:34
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Nailed IT!!!
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Old 5th May 2021, 23:54
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WOW! This is truly an historical event and has immense import for our species' capability of spaceflight to other worlds. Say what one will about Mr. Musk - he gets it done!

- Ed
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Old 6th May 2021, 00:37
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I’m old enough to remember the excitement of the Apollo days. This feels just as good...!
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Old 6th May 2021, 15:26
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Nige321, I'm old enough to remember the excitement of the Mercury days! (Actually got to shake Admiral Alan Shepard's hand at a book signing - Moon Shot - in 1994.) I concur with your statement regarding the euphoria of successful completion of a complex mission.

- Ed
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Old 7th May 2021, 10:59
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Elon Just tweeted they might refly SN15

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Old 9th May 2021, 16:29
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That will be bold move to refly it since SN16 is almost ready.
Maybe they just want some good PR images on a clear day. 😁
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Old 9th May 2021, 16:37
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Elon Musk hosted Saturday Night Live last evening. I thought he was funny with a rather wry wit. He admitted that he suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and seems like someone with whom one might want to share a pitcher of beer.

- Ed
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Old 12th May 2021, 10:29
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https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-mor...ts-days-ahead/

Unlike Starship SN5 and SN6, which both took two full days to safe, SpaceX recovery teams were able to approach full-size prototype SN15 less than four hours after touchdown and an adjacent highway was opened to the public just half a day after that. More importantly, as of May 11th, Starship SN15 has effectively been ready for transport for five days.

Unlike any prior Starship test, Starship SN15 was the first vehicle to test out a new custom-built transporter that also serves a purpose similar to the Octagrabber robots SpaceX uses to secure landed Falcon boosters at sea. It’s unclear how exactly the jig works but it appears to separate into two pieces – both attached to a pair of self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) – that can then encircle a landed Starship and be bolted together.

In that sense, just like Octagrabber allows SpaceX to secure Falcon boosters without a crane, SpaceX’s new Boca Chica recovery jig allows it to secure landed Starships without having to attach a crane and lift a rocket with unknown structural integrity. Technically, once that recovery jig is in place around Starship and the rocket is firmly secured to it, there’s nothing preventing SpaceX from immediately transporting it elsewhere.…..


However, beyond moving Starship SN15 from the edge of the landing zone to its center, SpaceX has yet to actually transport it anywhere more than four days after it was ready to roll. According to CEO Elon Musk, SpaceX “might try to refly SN15 soon” and the fact that the company still hasn’t transported Starship SN15 back to the build site seems to imply that Musk really meant “soon”.

In other words, there isn’t an obvious reason for SpaceX to keep Starship SN15 at the launch site unless the company believes that transporting it elsewhere would be counterproductive. Given that SpaceX has yet to install replacement landing legs on the rocket, it’s hard to guess the company’s plans for SN15, but it is clear that SpaceX itself is undecided.….

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Old 12th May 2021, 10:33
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Update to the above…..




https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-fir...se-next-steps/

SpaceX’s first flight-proven Starship heads back to launch pad for round two


Last edited by ORAC; 12th May 2021 at 10:55.
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Old 14th May 2021, 06:32
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Old 14th May 2021, 18:43
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https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/13/spac...-revealed.html

SpaceX reveals first orbital Starship flight plan

Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Thursday revealed in filings to the Federal Communications Commission its plan for the next step in testing its massive Starship rocket, in a flight that would splash down off the coast of Hawaii.

SpaceX has conducted multiple test flights of Starship prototypes over the past year, but the plans outline the company’s first attempt to reach orbit with the rocket…..

The company’s FCC filings say it will launch a Starship rocket atop a Super Heavy booster from SpaceX’s development facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Then the booster will separate, to partially return “and land in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 20 miles from the shore,” the filings say.

“The Orbital Starship will continue on flying between the Florida Straits. It will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing approximately 100km (~62 miles) off the northwest coast of Kauai in a soft ocean landing,” SpaceX wrote in the filing.

The orbital flight would last just over 90 minutes. SpaceX is working in coordination with the FCC, U.S. Air Force, NASA and the FAA for the flight. While the timing of the flight is to be announced, Musk two months ago said SpaceX’s goal is to launch the orbital mission by July…..


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