SpaceX Starhopper Completes Final Test

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After Last-Minute Delay, SpaceX Resets and Starhopper Reaches Its Goal of 150 Meters

I reported the other day on a last-minute failure that ended the first attempt at an untethered 150-meter hop for the SpaceX Starhopper prototype. Monday at around 7:00 pm EDT, the countdown reached zero on what was to be the final test for the prototype, but the engines didn’t fire. Elon Musk responded with a tweet that gave an air of confidence, and the company got to work on fixing the issue.

Then on Tuesday at 6:00 pm EDT, the Starhopper completed its final test. The prototype’s single Raptor engine ignited as planned, and the vessel slowly climbed to 150 meters (500 feet) in the air before returning gently to the ground. 

The End of Starhopper

Tuesday’s test represented the final stage in the development of the SpaceX Starhopper prototype. The craft was always meant to be a small-scale version of Starship, the company’s current flagship design. Musk and Co. have billed Starship as the craft that will get us to Mars. It will have the capacity to carry up to 100 passengers into deep space using six of the same Raptor engines that just proved successful in Boca Chica, TX. 

With the success of this final test, SpaceX engineers can now turn their attention from Starhopper‘s development to the much more ambitious Starship project. SpaceX is currently producing two full-sized Starship prototypes. One is in production at the same Boca Chica facility that hosted Tuesday’s launch. The other is being built in Florida near Cocoa at a facility the company leases from Coastal Steel.  

The Beginning of Starship

Both the Mk1 and Mk2 Starship prototypes must now undergo a series of new tests. Each prototype will have three Raptor engines. If future tests run smoothly, SpaceX hopes to have operational flights up and going by 2021. A couple of years later, they plan on sending commercial passengers into space. In fact one Japanese tycoon, Yusaku Maezawa, already booked his trip around the Moon with a target launch date for sometime in 2023. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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