SpaceX aims to test prototype for Mars rocket ship this week

SpaceX Starship could be launched on its first Test Hop this week Musk says

SpaceX founder Elon Musk wants to launch his new shiny, stainless steel rocket called Starship from Florida's Space Coast.

In a statement to the Brownsville Herald, SpaceX spokesman James Gleeson said "SpaceX will conduct checkouts of the newly installed ground systems and perform a short static fire test in the days ahead".

In a video released via his somewhat infamous Twitter account, Elon Musk has shown a "thorough" testing being undertaken on the heat shield used for the rockets. On the other hand, given just how shoestring the budget of this beast likely is and how rapidly SpaceX managed to go from an empty dirt lot to a hop-test-ready, 30ft/9m-diameter Starship prototype, it's equally likely that the company - particularly CEO Elon Musk - will accept the increased risk of catastrophic vehicle failures to keep the development program as agile as possible. A series of high-power burners emit hot flame jets that hit the middle of the tiles.

Musk explained that the hottest parts of the heatshield reached a maximum temperature of around 1,375 degrees Celsius. 1,375 degrees Celsius). He suggested this could withstand the extreme temperatures associated with returning to Earth, but it is slightly lower than the temperatures NASA's Space Shuttles were built to withstand (approx. Musk defined the heat test's success in terms of the vessel's ability to endure re-entry conditions and then turn around and take off again without the need for any kind of Space Shuttle-like overhaul.

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For a vehicle as utterly new and alien as Starhopper is to both SpaceX and the aerospace industry as a whole, it's safe to say that that tendency towards caution will be readily on display throughout these first several tests, at least until the company's operations technicians and engineers are considerably more familiar with the prototype rocket's behavior.

Pictures of the Raptor engine appeared on a popular platform during the weekend.

In later tests, the "Starhopper" with its three engines will take farther hops.

The future SpaceX vehicle comes in two parts: Super Heavy, a massive booster outfitted with 31 Raptor engines that will lift Starship, a 180-foot-tall spacecraft that can transport humans and cargo beyond low-Earth orbit. The first full test flight is targeted for no earlier than 2020.

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