SpaceX has completed its first untapped jump from Starhopper, a prototype for its planned Starhip vehicle. The brief but important test now sets the stage for more ambitious leaps.
Without any mooring to guide his path or catch his fall, Starhopper rose 20 meters (65 feet) in the air, and returned to the ground safely a few seconds later, reports SpaceNews. The test happened around 11:45 p.m. ET on July 25 at the SpaceX Boca Chica test camps in South Texas. It was a small leap for Starhopper, but an important leap for SpaceX, as the company can now move forward with its ambitious Starship project.
In April, SpaceX conducted a series of tests related to the Starhopper system. Yesterday's test came a day after an aborted no-tie test, which was caused by high chamber pressure.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted a couple of videos showing the test.
The images show that the 9-meter-wide (30-foot) Starhopper rises slowly, and then is completely hidden by the exhaust columns that leave its Raptor engine. The inaugural free flight of the prototype lasted between 10 and 15 seconds.
Starhopper, with its robust and cylindrical shape, has been compared to a water tower, which has caused cheep from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk: “Starhopper's flight was successful. Water towers * can * fly haha! "
The video captured by Everyday Astronaut could not show much of the test due to the huge amount of smoke involved, but the images taken shortly after the test showed a considerable fire in the immediate area surrounding the ship's prototype (the action starts at 4 hours) and 40 minutes). Clearly, SpaceX underestimated the extent to which the flames would wrap the launch pad.
Starhopper is a prototype launch system that will eventually be used for Starship and Super Heavy Rocket from SpaceX. This second stage, a fully reusable rocket, aims to replace the SpaceX Falcon9 launch vehicle, which could happen within the next two or three years.
This next-generation launch system will deliver satellites to Earth's orbit and transport cargo and personnel to the International Space Station, the Moon and Mars. The starship could be modified to transport 100 passengers on long-term interplanetary flights, but it could also be used for point-to-point transport on Earth. A flight from New York to Paris, for example, would take only 30 minutes on the starship.
With this first free jump now in the books, SpaceX would like to make more ambitious leaps. in a cheepElon Musk said the next jump will be a 200-meter jump in one or two weeks.