- Maria Pointer (bocachicaMaria)
- SpaceKs built a rocket stainless steel ship at its launch site near the beach of Boca Chica, located in the south of Texas.
- "Test Hopper" is the first, though only partially functional prototype of Starship: the launching system that SpaceKs founder Elon Musk wants to use to send people to Mars.
- The sheriff delivered a notice on closing the roads to residents on Friday, the source said, living near the beach of Boca Chica. The document warned the local population that SpaceKs will "test" on Monday, March 18th.
- SpaceKs said earlier that his test hopper "will be tied during initial testing" and that any of his "hops" – short vertical take-offs and landings – will not be visible "from the location".
- One resident reported that he had not received a notice. The person also claims that SpaceKs promised a launch launch, but has not yet provided.
SpaceKs, an aviation company founded by Elon Musk and headed by Gwynne Shotvell, is ready to launch its first rocket prototype designed to send people to Mars, according to a document examined by Business Insider.
SpaceKs can begin launching the Test Hopper prototype as early as Monday, according to a note in the mailboxes of some residents near the beach of Boca Chica, located in the southernmost part of Texas.
SpaceKs began building its launch site in Boca Chica in 2014 for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavi missiles. However, in early 2018 Musk said that Booka Chica would "be dedicated to" the new Mars vehicle, called Starship.
On March 8, SpaceKs crawled through the lower part of its mirror polished Test Hopper to the exit to Boca Chica. Shortly thereafter, engineers connected a single Raptor rocket engine – the newest and most powerful such machine ever developed by SpaceKs – to the base of the vehicle.
Test Hopper can not launch into space, but will try with key hardware and ideas that SpaceKs should make full-scale Starship (formerly called the Big Falcon Rocket).
- © Kimi Talvitie
If fully understood, Starship can stand about 400 feet tall, be completely reusable, and use the "bleeding" atmospheric reentry system. And if Muskin's "aspiration" dreams for the system are achieved, Starship can reach the orbit in 2020, send its first crew around the Moon 2023, and launch the first humans to Mars in 2024. In the end, it can translate up to 100 people and 150 tons of cargo in the same time on a red planet.
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But first, SpaceKs needs to prove the basic concepts of working with Starship with its Test Hopper.
Comments from the company's representative, as well as the notice allegedly given to some Boca Chice residents, suggest SpaceKs will try to test Hopper's first integrated rocket engine on Monday, followed by tests of "hop" tests shortly thereafter.
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The Hopper test can not fly in orbit around the Earth. It is a relatively rough and clean machine, with its lower part, about 60 feet high. The rocket is designed to fly on short hopes that do not exceed more than 16,400 feet in the air, according to the Federal Communications Commission application.
In January, Musk said his company would build a higher, orbit-capable version.around June" and that a rocket ship would have "Thick skin (will not accumulate) and smoothly bent sections of the nose." However, this timeline is now uncertain, as the stormy Texas winds exploded and damaged the Hopper test knife in February. Musk said that the day of the incident lasted weeks to fix the nose.
Nose or no, SpaceKs is moving forward with the earliest test release of its Test Hopper on the launch platform on the beach.
"SpaceKs will test the newly installed earth systems in the coming days and perform a brief static test of fire," a SpaceKs representative for Business Insider told e-mail last week.
A "static fire" fires a rocket engine to ensure it works, but the vehicle on it – in this case a test jumper – keeps it from getting off the ground. Such tests help engineers to find and solve any problems before they launch a launch.
"Although the prototype is designed to perform sub-orbital flights, or hops, which launch the SpaceKs Raptor engine, the vehicle will be connected during initial testing and the hops will not be visible from the offsite," said a company spokesman. "SpaceKs will set up a security zone perimeter in coordination with local implementation and will place labels that warn the community before testing."
The local sheriff delivered a test alert before the weekend to the city's residents, according to a person familiar with the situation.
That announcement, which Business Insider received from the photo, said:
"NOTIFICATION TO BOCA CHICA VILLAGE POPULATION"
"SpaceKs is planning to conduct testing on Sunday, March 18, 2019, at a company location near the Boca Chica beach in Cameron, Texas. During these tests, SpaceKs will establish a security zone perimeter in coordination with local enforcement authorities. Signals will be placed before testing to warn the community of any temporary closure of the highway 4 and the beach of Boca Chica.
"Residents of the village of Boca Chica will have access to their homes during testing."
The printed notice also contains the Google Map, marked below, and the text that follows:
"[T]Provisional checkpoints will be established on the highway. 4. Persons who provide proof of residence between two checkpoints shall be permitted to cross a soft checkpoint. Access via a hard checkpoint will not be allowed during temporary closing. "
- Gugl maps; Business Insider
"We deserve this kindness"
A hard checkpoint is about 1.5 miles west of the SpaceKs starting field, as well as the most eastern home in the village of Boca Chica.
Compared to that, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida allows visitors to visit the launching activity at a distance of less than 3 miles from its most famous launching pad.
Read more: I saw SpaceKs' Falcon Heavi rocket for the first time in space – here's how it was on earth
A resident of the village of Boca Chica Village, who asked not to be named, told Business Insider that the sheriff had never submitted a notice to their home. The resident also said that a SpaceKs spokesman had previously committed to providing launch plans, but it has yet to do so. "We deserve this kindness" from SpaceKs, said the resident, given the close proximity to the launch site.
Even Judge Cameron County, Eddie Trevino, apparently did not know about the nature or time of planning SpaceKs testing when he approved the closure of the roads on Thursday.
"It's exciting and we know that we are getting closer to that first test, or whatever they do," Trevino said, according to The Brovnsville Herald. "We wish them a lot of luck and we are excited."
SpaceKs did not immediately respond to questions from the Business Insider regarding the size of the security perimeter and the potential risks that residents pose to static fire and hops. The company submitted the necessary environmental impact statements in May 2014, discussing the risks of launch and safety measures, but these documents do not describe a test program similar to Test Hopper, nor the launch of extremely large vehicles with Mars.
But for some reason, Musk teased this opportunity for years.
"It may happen that the first person to go to another planet leaves this site," he said during a ceremony in September 2014.