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SpaceX BFR Test Flights in 2019?

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
March 11, 2018
Filed under
SpaceX BFR Test Flights in 2019?

Elon Musk, speaking at SXSW, projects Mars spaceship will be ready for short trips by first half of 2019, CNBC
“Musk held a surprise question and answer session at the annual technology and culture festival in Austin, Texas on Sunday. The billionaire told attendees that “we are building the first Mars, or interplanetary ship, and I think well be able to short trips, flights by first half of next year.” Mindful of elevating expectations too high, Musk hedged a bit. “Although sometimes, my timelines are a little, you know…” he said to laughter.”

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.

75 responses to “SpaceX BFR Test Flights in 2019?”

  1. DJE51 says:
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    Awesome! That means he will have to get permission from some spaceport, probably Texas, to conduct these trials. He could move one of his Autonomous Spaceship Drone Ships (ASDS) into the Gulf – he is building another one anyway. Pretty exciting!

    • Johnhouboltsmyspiritanimal says:
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      he is already building up the launch site near brownsville which is supposed to come online by the end of this year. will it be for all the internet satellite launches or for BFR remains to be see, but it is probably easier to get the BFR from macgregor test site to Boca Chica than all the way to KSC.

    • ThomasLMatula says:
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      Or use the Waco site were he developed the Falcon 9 reusable technology.

      https://www.space.com/26042

      SpaceX’s Grasshopper: Reusable Rocket Prototype

      By Elizabeth Howell, Space.com Contributor
      February 5, 2016 08:46pm ET

      “Grasshopper was a reusable vertical-takeoff-and-landing rocket prototype tested by the company Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in preparation for more ambitious launches. After progressively higher hops and pinpoint landings in two years, SpaceX wrapped up the program in 2013 to move resources into the Falcon 9 rocket.”

      BFR would be able to be tested under the same type of license. Best of all he wouldn’t have neighbors complaining about it as in South Texas.

      http://tpr.org/post/neighbo

      Neighbors Concerned SpaceX Could Transform South Texas

      By Paul Flahive
      Mar 2, 2018

      “From Heaton’s kitchen table you can see the towering antennas of spaceflight company, SpaceX. Heaton is convinced their new neighbor jeopardizes the peace and quiet he enjoyed in this neighborhood. The launchpad for the company is less than two miles away.”

      Of course most of the rest of the folks in Brownsville think its great…

      • Terry Stetler says:
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        McGregor and SpaceX changed their agreement 2-3 years ago: no more hop/jump tests there, and a 2 million lbf thrust limit per test.

        Any BFS hop/jump/suborbital tests will be at Boca Chica.

  2. Terry Stetler says:
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    The 600lb gorilla in the room SLS/Orion supporters try to ignore, BFS flying a crew before Orion is the SLS Mafia’s worst nightmare.

    • ThomasLMatula says:
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      Given how SLS/Orion keeps slipping to the right, that is very likely.

      Indeed, it is not out of the realm of possibility for New Glenn to even be flying crew before them. And of course you have Dragon2 and the Boeing CST100.

      It looks like reality is catching up to the fantasy of SLS/Orion being of any importance to space exploration.

  3. Jeff2Space says:
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    Seems like he’s talking about the “spaceship” part, which is the upper stage. Is that right? I’m never quite sure with BFR (the booster) versus BFS (the reusable upper stage or spaceship).

    • Jack says:
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      Musk said during the post FH press conference that the BFR would be making grasshopper type of flights in 2019. So, I assume that’s what he was referring to.

      • Paul451 says:
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        BFS, the “spaceship”, is the first component they are building. Called “Heart of Gold”. He previously claimed it would be capable of SSTO, but with little or no payload.

        • Jack says:
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          He said it would be making Grasshopper type flight next year.

          “That spaceship could be ready for short demonstration hops in 2019, Musk said. Those hops would be much like SpaceX’s prototype Grasshopper rocket tests that led to the reusable Falcon 9 first-stage boosters the company relies on today.”

          Taken from this: https://www.space.com/39632

    • fcrary says:
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      I’m not sure SpaceX is clear on the distinction. To me, it sounds like the design is a work in progress, and they aren’t being too specific because they may very well revise the design in significant ways. As far as a 2019 flight test, I’ve willing to believe a short up-and-down test involving Raptor engines and a vehicle which might count as a BFR prototype. And, to be fair, I don’t think Mr. Musk’s statements necessarily claim anything more than that.

      • enginear says:
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        Have we heard anything about the Raptor lately?

        • fcrary says:
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          I haven’t. On the other hand, I haven’t heard much about the BE-4 that Blue Origin is working on. Or, more properly, not much on the BE-4 capabilities and progress in developing it. Things like where they are going to build it or whether or not it will be used by the ULA Vulcan are things we’ve heard about. Since the Raptor is being developed by SpaceX for SpaceX use (and possibly a version for the Air Force), I wouldn’t expect to hear much. Companies rarely publicize internal development programs (unless they see an advantage in doing so.)

          • enginear says:
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            Well considering that Musk is announcing (or so we assume) test flights of that engine next year, I would think that info on the engine test would not be hush hush. And to your comment on BO, I dont think they made a statement that they would fly the BE-4 next year, which is what sparked my question.

          • ThomasLMatula says:
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            Blue Origin will be building the BE-4 in Huntsville. Which will make it very hard for Senator Shelby to ignore…

            https://www.theverge.com/20

            Blue Origin will build its rocket engine in Alabama because the space industry is ruled by politics

            By Loren [email protected]
            Jun 26, 2017, 4:08pm EDT

            “The move will likely make many in Alabama happy since Blue Origin expects to make $200 million in capital investment in the state. Of course, the company says it will only build the facility once ULA officially selects the BE-4 as the Vulcan’s main engine. Perhaps now there will be fewer people standing in Blue Origin’s way. At the very least, the company seems to have made an ally of Sen. Shelby.”

      • Terry Stetler says:
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        BFR: whole thing or booster
        BFB: booster
        BFS: Spaceship, Cargo, Tanker, Chomper (satellite delivery vehicle)

    • DougSpace says:
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      John Strickland has gone to making what I think is a useful distinctions which is that the BFR = BFB + BFS with the BFB being the Big Falcon Booster. If that nomenclature were used then the confusion would be cleared up.

      • fcrary says:
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        Perhaps less confusion now, but more when SpaceX finally comes up with names for the components. According to Mr. Musk, BFR is just a working name. So, unless the official names have an obvious one-to-one mapping to BFR, BFB and BFS, you’re inviting some confusion.

  4. Not Invented Here says:
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    Some major media snafu on this, Elon was talking about hop test (Grasshopper style) of a prototype BFR 2nd stage (aka BFS) next year, some reporters thought he was going to fly to Mars next year.

  5. Michael Spencer says:
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    “Although sometimes, my timelines are a little, you know…” he said to laughter.”

    I don’t even care about his slipping deadlines because nothing could discourage my enthusiasm about Mr. Musk and SX; and because, in the end, he produces.

    Can you count to 50? 🙂

  6. Orlando Santos says:
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    “Glass domes” It’s going to be a real special glass to shield those colonists from the HZE radiation on the surface! Let’s get real. Humans can not live on the surface of Mars. Without a protective magnetic field, the radiation environment on Mars kills people within a few years. Just look at the RAD data from MSL. We have one biosphere that supports human life, we better take care of it. NASAs highest priorities should be Earth Science and education, followed by the robotic exploration of the solar system and astronomy. Instead our “leadership” gives us SLS.

    • Michael Genest says:
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      You had me until the “NASAs highest priorities…” part. It’s called the National Aeronautics and SPACE Administration, not the National Aeronautics and EARTH Administration. Studying Earth from orbit is important, but IMHO NASAs top priority should be paving the way for human expansion out into the solar system, not contemplating our own beautiful blue ‘navel’ and letting robots have all the interplanetary fun. And that’s climate change notwithstanding. (Yea, I know….this is the classic JSC/humans versus JPL/robots debate, but hopefully people like Mr. Musk will allow us to have our cake and eat it too).

      • mfwright says:
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        before space is AERONAUTICS

      • Orlando Santos says:
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        Okay, did you read my post? Are you the proverbial ostrich? Humans can’t live in this radiation environment and you can’t shield against it and building deep underground habitats is way beyond any technology we have.

        • kcowing says:
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          OK. You have made your point.

        • fcrary says:
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          A few meters, possibly only one meter, of regolith is sufficient shielding. The required technology is called a bulldozer. Getting one to Mars isn’t trivial, but I’d hardly call it “way beyond” anything we have.

          • Zed_WEASEL says:
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            A bulldozer is over-qualified as Martian earth mover for this task. A Bobcat loader size vehicle should do. It also fits through the BFS cargo hatch of 3.8 meters x 3.8 meters.

          • fcrary says:
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            Personally, I like the idea of a tractor-trailer style traverse rover for scientific work, and the tractor designed to double as an earthmover when the trailer isn’t attached. But working out those details is pretty far in the future, and trial and error is probably the best design program.

    • ThomasLMatula says:
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      Really? Earth Science only became part of NASA because it was created right after the IGY. The tail should not wag the dog.

      • fcrary says:
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        I’m not sure of that. With or without the IGY, there was plenty of work using sounding rockets to study the upper atmosphere. So the potential to study the Earth from space wasn’t an IGY thing. Eisenhower wanted a civilian agency, and therefore scientific elements in its charter. I’d say including Earth sciences follows naturally from those two points.

        • ThomasLMatula says:
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          Yes and it was a way to build support politically by showing near term benefits. Weather satellites are a great example.

    • fcrary says:
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      Actually, I have read the papers from the RAD instrument. Just to make sure I’m remembering correctly, I’ve got one in front of me. Guo et al., 2015, estimate a dose rate of about 0.7 mSv/day, based on RAD data and modeling its variability (to get an average over decades of varying solar and atmospheric conditions.) It isn’t clear what a fatal dose is (we have little data on long-term moderate rate exposure, mostly long-term and very low rate and short-term and very high rate exposure.) But it’s probably 5-10 Sv. If we call it 5 Sv, then unshielded exposure on the surface of Mars would kill someone in 19 years. Most people wouldn’t say 19 is “a few”.

      If you put the bedroom and offices downstairs (and well-shielded) and people only spent a third of their time in the room with the view, that’s pushing a lifetime before the radiation dose is fatal. I wouldn’t recommend that, since risks of cancer go way up before you get to a 5 Sv dose. But the problem is much less extreme and more manageable than you claim. You might point to the uncertainties in the biological effects (RAD measured the dose, not what it would do to a human body.) But you also did not say “might kill” you asserted, as an absolute fact, that it would be fatal within “a few” years.

      In any case, Mr. Musk didn’t get rich as an architect or a medical doctor. I hope he leaves the design of a Mars city to someone who knows more about the business. He also has said some negative things about public transportation. As a fan and regular user of public transportation, I hope he doesn’t build that bias into a SpaceX-produced Mars city (if and when it’s built…) That goes, as Mr. Spencer can tell us, far beyond the radiation or other technical issues.

      • Orlando Santos says:
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        Given we have zero data on the effect of HZE radiation on mammals your statements are just conjecture. Despite the obviously pro-human exploration funding discussion section of that paper, the facts are it’s bad. We simply don’t have anywhere near the technology. Building underground habitats? Do you have any idea the technical challenges in that?

          • Orlando Santos says:
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            It’s in tissue culture! Cmon folks let’s admit reality, we have almost no data on the effects of HZE on whole animals, and zero data with the complete multidirectional multispectrum range of particles like in space or on Mars. HZE can not be shielded by “a few meters of regolith”. We better take care of Earth’s biosphere because we can’t live without it.

          • fcrary says:
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            Hassler et al., 2014, “Mars’ Surface Radiation Environment Measured with the Mars Science
            Laboratory’s Curiosity Rover,” table 3. The surface (unshielded) dose on Mars is 0.232 Sv/year, 0.295 Sv/year at a depth of 0.1 meters (yes, it goes up; you’re converting very high energy primary particles into lots of moderately high energy secondaries), 0.081 Sv/year at one meter and 0.0029 Sv/year at three meters.

            You might question the conversion between energy deposition to biological effect (and I’d agree it could be off by 50%, but that’s 50% in either direction.) But transmission and range of energetic particles is very well understood physics based tons of lab work.

          • Orlando Santos says:
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            Instead of looking at total dose, let’s talk about the HZE component. That’s what we have nearly zero data on in mammals, and goes much deeper than three meters. Unless you believe HZE are less biologically damaging than gammas, than it’s not “in either direction”.

        • fcrary says:
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          Well, that’s about the quality factor (conversion between physical energy deposition and medical effects.) Gou et al. 2015 gave that as 3.05 +- 0.26, for the spectrum observed by RAD. That was actually a reference to a reference, which I’m not too fond of. (They cited Hassler et al., 2014, who calculated a quality factor based on the spectrum and various medical data, so the medical data is a reference in the referenced paper.) I also really doubt if the number is good to three significant figures. But there is more than zero data on the subject, and probably enough to justify 3.?? as a quality factor.

          But your statements aren’t consistent. You claim everything about the risks is “just conjecture.” Then you claim that it is definitely a huge and unsolvable problem. Both claims can not be true at the same time. If we don’t know enough about the risks to estimate them, then we don’t know enough to say they are a huge and unsolvable problem. Pick one.

        • Terry Stetler says:
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          You take along an electric roadheaders. Dig a deep trench, place the habs in the trench and cover with about 3 meters of regolith. Radiation problem solved. Use the domes as greenhouses since radiation often stimulates growth in plants.

          Extra points: drape superconducting cables over the hab and energise. Recent studies show the resulting EMF will act as an artificial magnetosphere.

          Triple points: build a spherical structure at Sun-Mars L1, again with superconductors generating a field. It acts as a magnetoshield which can protect most of Mars surface. A NASA proposal.
          https://uploads.disquscdn.c

          • fcrary says:
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            Unfortunately, we don’t have useful superconductors. Ones that have to be cooled down to liquid hydrogen temperatures aren’t exactly something you can drape over the greenhouse. The “high temperature” superconductors (which only need to be cooled to liquid nitrogen temperatures) are ceramics. They have about the tensile strength of a brick (which is basically zero.) When used to produce a magnetic field, the wires are under tension. Which requires tensile strength from the wires. Which doesn’t work for existing superconductors.

            And, also unfortunately, the L1 magnetic shield doesn’t work even if we had superconductors. It wouldn’t have any effect on cosmic rays (since they come from all directions, not just from the direction of the Sun) Also, since it’s about 320 Mars radii upstream, it will only shield Mars from solar energetic particles if the solar wind is coming directly from the Sun. Even a 0.2 degree difference (which is quite common) would be a problem. Yes, I know someone proposed this to NASA. But people have also proposed warp drives.

    • kcowing says:
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      Lucky for the rest of us NASA has a broader charter than the narrow one you want it to have.

      • Orlando Santos says:
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        It’s not narrow, it just leaves human spaceflight to the commercial folks and let’s NASA focus on science.

    • John Campbell says:
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      Don’t think “special” glass… it’ll likely be transparent aluminum (or, perhaps, aluminium).

      • Orlando Santos says:
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        Okay Scientific American explains things better than I can. We just don’t have the technology to send people to Mars much less a million. Dreams of cities on the surface are just wishful thinking from Star Trek fans! https://engineering.dartmou

        • james w barnard says:
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          And, because we don’t have data beyond six months on what REDUCED gravity does to or for human physiology, Mars is a bridge-too-far for humans…right now. Let’s establish a manned (all gender) base on the Moon, and develop the technology to shield the personnel from cosmic radiation, and determine how to overcome the problems of reduced-g!

  7. Doc H. Chen says:
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    With the mature reusable vehicle experience, the smart and dynamic SpaceX private company knows the Time is Money.

    • Michael Spencer says:
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      Haha! The SLS folks also know that time is money!

      • fcrary says:
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        “If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made prolonging the problem.” I think Keith used that demotivator as a graphic once.

  8. DougSpace says:
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    SpaceX has already had an over-sized LOX tank constructed so it is within their capability of having the structure of the BFS made fairly soon. I imagine 2019 would be reasonable. I understand that they have been firing the Raptor engine at the size that the BFS will use. So it’s entirely possible that we could see the BFS equivalent of the Grasshopper hops within 2019. That could well get people believing that the whole BFR is relatively near-term and that could further affect the discussion about the SLS. Remember, in his BFR (or was it his ITS) presentation, he stated that he thought that a public-private program involving the BFR would result as people saw the BFR making progress. So, his goal here is to make apparent progress as soon as possible hence, his trying to shift as much engineering capability to the BFS as soon as possible and getting to the first BFS hop as soon as possible. I certainly wish him good luck and hope that he succeeds in this strategy. BUT, I think it’s a bit misleading as I’ll explain next.

    • Vladislaw says:
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      It was my understanding he is doing the BFS first not the BFR ?

      • Saturn1300 says:
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        Yes. He said ship to ship or Launch from Brownsville into space and reenter to test the heatshield and return to Brownsville.

  9. ThomasLMatula says:
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    Looks like BFR may be moving even faster than earlier reports…

    https://www.teslarati.com/s

    SpaceX will launch its Mars spaceship into orbit as early as 2020
    By Eric Ralph
    Posted on March 12, 2018

    “Speaking on a launch industry round-table at the Satellite 2018
    conference, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell revealed that the company intends to conduct the first orbital launches of BFR as early as 2020, with suborbital spaceship tests beginning in the first half of 2019.”

    Wouldn’t it be grand if the BFR beat the SLS to space? One a true 21st Century rocket, the other a throwback to the 1960’s…

    Space may be having its iPhone moment soon…

    • fcrary says:
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      A 2020 first orbital flight would make the Falcon and BFR a throwback to the 1960s in a different way. That would be averaging seven years from concept to first flight for two generations of launch vehicles. I think that sort of design cycle has been rare for the past half a century.

  10. Saturn1300 says:
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    Second stage – Spaceship

    Length
    48 m (157 ft) [1]

    Diameter
    9 m (30 ft)

    Empty mass
    85,000 kg (187,000 lb)

    Gross mass
    1,335,000 kg (2,943,000 lb)

    Propellant mass

    240,000 kg (530,000 lb) CH

    4
    860,000 kg (1,900,000 lb) LOX

    Engines
    7 × Raptor (4 × vacuum, 3 × sea level) [5]

    Thrust
    12.7 MN (2,900,000 lbf) total

    Specific impulse

    375 s (3.68 km/s) vacuum

    each, outer four engines
    356 s (3.49 km/s) vacuum

    each, inner three engines
    330 s (3.2 km/s) sea level [1]

    each, inner three engines

    Fuel
    Subcooled CH

    4 / LO
    Look at the Gross mass and Thrust. Mistake somewhere. Wiki says it will not take off. Have to find more info.

    Since they got the test tank on a barge, I guess they will use it for 30’D. BFS for the trip to Brownsville. Houses are moved on the street. Do they have some wild name for that launch site?

    “Will be starting with a full-scale Ship doing short hops of a few hundred kilometers altitude and lateral distance,” he wrote. “Those are fairly easy on the vehicle, as no heat shield is needed, we can have a large amount of reserve propellant and don’t need the high area ratio, deep space Raptor engines.” Musk said some time back. Not much cargo. 2 crew =400lbs.

    l

    • ThomasLMatula says:
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      Maybe call it Turtle since their egg laying will shut it down during certain months, one reason the Texas Aerospace Commission skipped it as a potential launch site when they were exploring locations in 2002. The two best sites are one just south of Prot Mansfield and the other at the abandoned Matagorda AFB. In 1982 the first commercial space launch took place by the latter location.

      • fcrary says:
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        That’s not a unique problem. Until 2011, Japanese launches out of Tanegashima were limited to a 190 day period each year. The local fishing industry had some concerns about some sort of environmental impact.

    • Not Invented Here says:
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      Look at the Gross mass and Thrust. Mistake somewhere. Wiki says it will not take off. Have to find more info.

      It’s an upper stage, so when fully loaded with fuel, the TWR is less than 1, this is normal for an upper stage.

      For hop testing they’ll use partial fuel load so that it can lift off.

      • Zed_WEASEL says:
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        SpaceX will just load the header tanks in the BFS for short test hops. Those are the 2 smaller tanks inside the main Methane tank of the BFS.

  11. Dewey Vanderhoff says:
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    In order for SpaceX to be less than 1.5 years from a maiden voyage of BFR, even just a test hop, the Raptor methane engine must be near qualification about now.
    Is it ? ( We do know Blue origin’s BE-4 is all but locked in for production . It appears Blue origin is further along in finalizing their engine development ). Any news from the cow pasture rocket ranch in Texas?
    We haven’t heard much about SpaceX engine development lately , other than that uprated Merlin catching fire on the test stand late last year … from the engine type set to power the Block 5 Falcons, first of which is lofting in about a month , promising rapid reusability of powerplants and airframe with minimal refurbishment. Theoretically , Raptors will burn cleaner and require less maintenance thru their lifecycle , but how would we know ?

    • ThomasLMatula says:
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      More important why do you need to know?

      It’s not a NASA project and private firms always keep product development a secret until its on the market. I am happy Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are sharing what they are sharing. For all we know the first BFR airframe is nearly complete and just waiting a barge ride to Texas. I wonder how many seats it will have 🙂

      • fcrary says:
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        What they tell us is their choice, but there are reasons why SpaceX might want to publicize development of the Raptor and/or BFR. Potential customers might be considering their options and would be more willing to baseline a BFR launch if they knew more about its status. Simply pushing out the occasional press release keeps the company’s name in circulation (not that SpaceX has a problem with that…)

        And, just for the record, my guess is it’ll fly with lots of empty seats and no passengers.

      • Dewey Vanderhoff says:
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        – I don’t need to know, I want to know… for the same reason I follow Spring training for my favorite Major League Baseball teams. Why do you need to ask ?

      • enginear says:
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        https://twitter.com/twitter

        Sharing only works if you have something to show.

    • Not Invented Here says:
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      In order for SpaceX to be less than 1.5 years from a maiden voyage of BFR, even just a test hop, the Raptor methane engine must be near qualification about now.

      Not necessarily, they can fly with engines that are not qualified. Grasshopper flew with Merlin 1D on September 21, 2012, but Merlin 1D didn’t finish its qualification until March 20, 2013.

      From various rumors around the internet, they’re just starting to test full scale Raptor.

  12. MountainHighAstro says:
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    I have no doubt that any timeline that Musk gives over the BFR will be delayed. However, I am beginning to wonder if it will be fully operational before SLS is

  13. John Campbell says:
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    I imagine some of the “test” flights will be self-delivery flights to the various launch sites; Trucking or barging these would be a major annoyance.

    • fcrary says:
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      I believe that’s the normal practice for delivering aircraft from the manufacturer to the owner/operator.

      • John Campbell says:
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        (chuckles)

        [HUMOR]
        SpaceX California: “Hey, Florida, we hope pad # 2 is empty?”

        SpaceX Florida: “Yeah, pad # 2 is clear. Why?”

        SpaceX California: “BFR In-Coming!!!”
        [/HUMOR]

        I wonder whether a “booster” stage, with a minimal nose-cone, has the range to deliver itself anywhere on the planet… though, due to re-entry heating, fractional orbit delivery may be less-than-desirable.

        Distributing the booster stage to everywhere it needs to be will be somewhat more of an annoyance; The upper stage is of limited utility until such time as a booster is available.

        (laughs maniacally)

        Frankly, I would expect Elon to have a nice location set aside on one of the Hawaiin Islands and will deliver a BFR first stage there fairly early on.

        It’ll be some fun watching booster stage deliveries to all the expensive holiday locations (Tahiti, etc, etc, etc).

        [HUMOR]
        The follow-ons to the BFR are the:
        HFR (Huge “Falcon” Rocket) and the:
        LFR (Ludicrous “Falcon” Rocket).
        [/HUMOR]

        • Zed_WEASEL says:
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          [HUMOR]
          in accordance with Spaceballs mythos
          PFR (Plaid “F**king” Rocket) is the follow-on to
          LFR (Ludicrous “F**king” Rocket)
          [/HUMOR]

      • Michael Spencer says:
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        Well, sure, but extending the practice to rockets? How cool is that? (Which, I think, is Mr. Campbell’s point).

        • John Campbell says:
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          A long time ago in a newsgroup far far away (sci.space.tech) there was a long discussion about VTVL vs VTHL. I was one of those who preferred the idea of VTVL over VTHL because it can touch down darn near ANYWHERE (including parking lots when sufficiently desperate) and such, if an SSTO, can LEAVE from almost anywhere (subject to noise issues, though, I suspect, in real life it’d attract one heck of an audience).

          And, yeah, VTVL is not yet as mundane as VTHL since we’re used to airplanes, aren’t we?

          Somewhere beyond 11 on the 0-10 cool-o-meter.

          (Sudden extraneous thought: Elon will have the eventual LFB – Ludicrous Falcon Rocket – painted “plaid”.)

        • fcrary says:
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          Yes, but I guess that was my point. The cool part is that it isn’t cool. It’s a normal, common-place way to deliver a new vehicle. That will be a sign that launch services are moving from the rare and exciting to the ordinary and routine. It might be boring, but I think that’s a step in the right direction.