SpaceX has finally received clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct the next (and last) test hop of the Starhopper prototype at its test facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The permit – initially issued on June 21st – changes the constraints of the next hop for Starhopper and raises the amount of insurance liability that SpaceX is responsible for.
Update (August 27th): Monday’s Starhopper flight attempt was scrubbed milliseconds before Raptor main engine ignition and liftoff, traced back to wiring issues with Raptor’s “finicky” torch igniters according to CEO Elon Musk. Starhopper is reportedly set for a second attempted 150m (500 ft) flight test today, scheduled to occur no earlier than 5pm EDT (21:00 UTC) on August 27th. Stay tuned for SpaceX’s official Livestream!
The newly issued permit will allow SpaceX to test their prototype vehicle as early as 6pm EDT this evening, August 26th. The revised permit specifies that “SpaceX may operate the Starship Hopper Vehicle for one flight without further FAA authorization, to a nominal altitude of 150 meters AGL or less.” The 150-meter test limit falls short of the targeted 200-meter hop that company CEO, Elon Musk, had previously identified. Following a more in-depth “hazard analysis” the permit also now reflects an increase in the amount of liability insurance that SpaceX must be responsible for from $3,000,000 to $100,000,000.
This is likely due to the fact that the permit outlines a safety clear zone of 2,270 meters radius around the test site which falls just short of a nearby housing development known as Boca Chica village. The increase in liability insurance may also be in response to a small brush fire that was started following the previous 20-meter hop test that occurred on July 25th and required the assistance of local safety officials to fully extinguish.
SpaceX is currently targeting a launch attempt of 5pm CDT/ 6pm EDT. If the team is not able to complete the hop this evening, Tuesday and Wednesday are available as back up. Should an official livestream become available, SpaceX will likely tweet an update link on their Twitter account, @SpaceX.
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