One Big Hop
SpaceX’s Starhopper finally launched itself some 150 meters (492 feet) into the air Tuesday evening at the company’s Boca Chica test facility in Texas.
The company’s 20-meter Starship test vehicle, lovingly nicknamed “R2D2’s Dad,” by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, reached its FAA-approved maximum height, flew sideways, and gently made its way down to a landing nearby.
“One day Starship will land on the rusty sands of Mars,” Musk quipped on Twitter.
The test comes after many delays and test failures, including a massive fireball. This week’s test will be Starhopper’s last.The first untethered test flight on July 26 was a success as well. “Starhopper flight successful,” Musk tweeted at the time. “Water towers *can* fly haha!!”
Next up are tests for the two full-scale Starship prototypes currently in development at the Boca Chica test site and in Cocoa, Florida.
A lot can still go wrong between now and SpaceX’s much-awaited Starship’s maiden voyage. Starhopper uses only a single Raptor engine — SpaceX plans to stuff six of them into the final version of its gigantic spacecraft.
Once Starship is ready — it’s too early to tell when that will take place with any certainty — the spacecraft could make history by ferrying up to 100 passengers at a time to the Moon and far beyond.
READ MORE: SpaceX launches Starship “hopper” on dramatic test flight [SpaceFlight Now]
More on Starhopper: SpaceX Delays Starhopper’s Final Test Flight Once Again