SpaceX has some big plans for the first half of 2019. Space X BFR and BFS will be tested and preparations are already being made. At the moment a large rocket fuel tank was installed in Boca Chica, Texas. According to Elon Musk, we know that BFR testing will begin with the ship testing its powers with some short hops that will reach a few hundred kilometres altitude and lateral distance.
“An immense liquid oxygen (LOX) tank just arrived at @SpaceX’s prospective Boca Chica, TX facility, likely to be dedicated to BFR & BFS testing. @NASASpaceflight forum user “Nomadd” caught some of the first detailed photos, as well as the tank’s arrival at SpaceX land on July 11,” tweeted Eric Ralph.
These tests aren’t too complex and they won’t be too harsh the vehicle, therefore no heat shield is needed. However, SpaceX also intends to test the material of the heat shield. In order to do that, the ship will fly around and accelerate and the shield will be tested when the vehicle becomes hot.
SpaceX also releases an official statement when the tank was delivered to Boca Chica: ““Delivery of a new liquid oxygen tank, which will be used to support propellant-loading operations during launch and vehicle tests, represents the latest major piece of launch hardware to arrive at the [South Texas] site for installation.”
SpaceX has big ambitions for South Texas. The Boca Chica facility will be dedicated to BFR testing. Musk offered more details about the tests: “Will be starting with a full-scale Ship doing short hops of a few hundred kilometers altitude and lateral distance. 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.”