We have liftoff! Watch the moment Elon Musk’s Starhopper prototype rises 500 FEET above the launchpad and touches back down safely in a cloud of smoke, as it completes its most ambitious test yet
- SpaceX’s Starhopper attempted its 150 meter (500 foot) hover test on Tuesday afternoon after a day’s delay
- First attempt was abandoned at the last minute on Monday evening because ‘igniters needed to be inspected’
- The prototype took off without any problems on Tuesday evening, blasting off just after 5 pm local time
Elon Musk’s Starhopper has taken another major step toward reality.
The prototype ship blasted off from the Boca Chica, Texas test site on Tuesday evening just after 5 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET) for its 150-meter untethered flight test.
While it was at first enshrouded in smoke and flames, the water tower-shaped vehicle emerged moments later to be seen rising high above the ground without any obstructions to the view.
The successful test comes after SpaceX was forced to abandon its attempt on Monday to allow for a last-minute inspection of the craft’s igniters.
Musk tweeted his congratulations to the SpaceX team not long after Tuesday’s achievement wrapped up.
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Elon Musk’s Starhopper has taken another major step toward reality. The prototype ship blasted off from the Boca Chica, Texas test site on Tuesday evening just after 5 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET) for its 150 meter untethered flight test
While it was at first enshrouded in smoke and flames, the water tower-shaped vehicle emerged moments later be seen rising high above the ground without any obstructions to the view
SpaceX was given FAA approval to conduct its test as soon as Monday, according to NASA Spaceflight, though it ultimately pushed the flight back a day to make sure all was in order. Ahead of the test, locals were warned that windows could shatter as a result of any malfunctions.
Due to the ferocity of Starhopper’s methane-powered Raptor engine, nearby residents were asked to either temporarily relocate to a different area or go outside briefly during the test to avoid being inside for an ‘overpressure event.’
Tuesday’s test marks its biggest milestone yet.
Starhopper – a squat and strikingly large ship – took its first untethered height earlier this summer, when it hovered 65 feet (20 meters) off the ground.
The successful test comes after SpaceX was forced to abandon its attempt last night to allow for a last minute inspection of the craft’s igniters
SpaceX was given FAA approval to conduct its test as soon as Monday, according to NASA Spaceflight, though it ultimately pushed the flight back a day to make sure all was in order. It can be seen on the launchpad ahead of its successful flight
Following the successful test, Starhopper will transition into a vertical test of SpaceX’s Raptor engines and eventually even larger prototypes of Musk’s coveted Starship craft, according to NASA Spaceflight.
Starhopper is the test vehicle for SpaceX’s ultimate goal of developing a sleeker craft called the Starship which Musk hopes will eventually take human passengers on a number of missions into space.
Just a few miles away from Starhopper’s test site, SpaceX employees have been hard at work building the next prototype of the craft, the MK1, which will eventually attempt to achieve longer journeys into the air.
SpaceX’s successful tests marked a major step for the company and for Starhopper which has never flown into the air without a tether prior to last month’s launch
Raptor engines are used to propel the Starhopper, which are also made by Musk’s SpaceX
Musk said in July that the MK1 could take flight within the next two to three months and aims to conduct a flight as far as 20 to 30 kilometers later this year.
A concurrent team in Florida is also in the midst of building a similar MK2 with a different design and specs.
The two teams are competing and collaborating in an effort to accelerate the future ship’s development.
Ultimately, Musk hopes that the company’s Starship could help humans reach Mars for the first time and has set an optimistic timeline for when the experimental craft might be able to do so.
The first crewed Red Planet mission for the rocket and 100-passenger Starship could come as early as the mid-2020s if development and testing go well, Musk has said
Additional missions may even include tourists trips to the moon by 2024, according to the CEO.
Completing a successful mission to the moon would also mark an incremental step in Musk’s other vision of traveling to Mars.
WHAT IS ELON MUSK’S ‘BFR’?
The BFR (Big F***ing Rocket), now known as Starship, will complete all missions and is smaller than the ones Musk announced in 2016.
The SpaceX CEO said the rocket would take its first trip to the red planet in 2022, carrying only cargo, followed by a manned mission in 2024 and claimed other SpaceX’s products would be ‘cannibalised’ to pay for it.
The rocket would be partially reusable and capable of flight directly from Earth to Mars.
Once built, Musk believes the rocket could be used for travel on Earth – saying that passengers would be able to get anywhere in under an hour.