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Starhopper

Hop ’till you drop

This week SpaceX released footage of its second test-flight with “Starhopper”, their go-to vehicle for future Mars exploration. The “little” rocket suffered a rough start as heavy winds already toppled it over once, fire during pre-flight testing made SpaceX abort its first flight attempt. Since then, after the first small hop, the almost 20m tall spaceship completed its second test-flight during which it flew to a height of approximately 150 meters. SpaceX’s unique vehicle staggers audiences not because of its strange and bulgy looks but because of the unprecedented technological features it brings forth.

The Starhopper, unlike other SpaceX rockets and vehicles so-far, has been outfitted with the brand new “Raptor” engine. This liquid methane fueled, full flow staged combustion engine is not only very efficient but most importantly its fuel, liquid methane, is manufacturable on Mars. The red planet has a CO2 rich atmosphere which in combination with sub-surface water & water retrieved from polar ice can be made into methane fuel! In terms of efficiency SpaceX is again on top of the game. (further reading on the Raptor)

SpaceX’s liquid methane powered Raptor engine

Starhopper, for now, is the only vehicle to have been equipped with these Raptor engines but they are scheduled to be used in many other SpaceX endeavours. Next in line on the space conquering calendar is test flights for Starhopper’s bigger brothers Mk1 and Mk2. According to Musk, these orbital rockets are to be equipped with a minimum of 3 raptor engines. The Mk prototypes will subsequently lead us to the final goal, the production of Starship, Musk’s interplanetary people carrier. All together we can cheer for this successful test-flight as it brings us one step closer to the red planet!

Starhopper’s second test-flight compared to its first flight shows real potential as within 57 seconds it lifted itself up to 150 meters and safely landed on its feet in a cloud of dust. The first hop was not the visual spectacle the people had anticipated to see as the total undertaking happened within one gigantic cloud of dust and smoke, the second flight is a marvel to watch though.

Credits SpaceX

After witnessing this beauty of a manouvre I can’t wait to see what eye-candy the next prototypes with multiple Raptors will bring us. For now, I really enjoyed writing this article as being one of my first blogs for my new website. I am looking forward to covering much more space related subjects soon, so stay tuned!

How did our moon form?

Museum planetary science researcher Prof Sara Russell explains the origins of Earth’s closest companion.

” Analysis of samples brought back from the NASA Apollo missions suggest that the Earth and Moon are a result of a giant impact between an early proto-planet and an astronomical body called Theia. “

A FEW THEORIES

‘There used to be a number of theories about how the Moon was made and it was one of the aims of the Apollo program to figure out how we got to have our Moon,’ says Sara.

Prior to the Apollo mission research, there were three theories about how the Moon formed.

Capture theory suggests that the Moon was a wandering body (like an asteroid) that formed elsewhere in the solar system and was captured by Earth’s gravity as it passed nearby. In contrast, accretion theory suggested that the Moon was created along with Earth at its formation. Finally, according to the fission scenario, Earth had been spinning so fast that some material broke away and began to orbit the planet.

What is most widely accepted today is the giant-impact theory. It proposes that the Moon formed during a collision between the Earth and another small planet, about the size of Mars. The debris from this impact collected in an orbit around Earth to form the Moon.

Kerry Lotzaf – Natural History Museum 30-04-2018 > Full Article