The SpaceX Starship might one day take lucky astronauts to the Moon, Mars and beyond. For the time being, however, the stainless steel rocket is nothing more than a “water tower” with an engine strapped to it. Endearingly dubbed the Starhopper after its planned series of short launches or hops, the spacecraft prototype completed its first test flight today UK time (July 26). SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced the news on Twitter, saying: “Starhopper fight successful. Water towers *can* fly haha!”
The Starhopper test flight came just one day after the rocket erupted in flames at the company’s test facilities in Boca Chica, Texas.
On Wednesday, July 24, SpaceX was forced to abort is initial flight test as smoke and flames shot up from the top of the rocket.
SpaceX engineer Kate Tice said during a live broadcast of the event: “It appears as though we have had an abort on today’s test.
“As you can see there, the vehicle did not lift off today.”
Elon Musk later joked on Twitter it is a good thing the Starship is being built from stainless steel.
He said: “Yeah, big advantage of being made from high-strength stainless steel: not bothered by a little heat!”
Now, the Starhopper has taken off from the ground for the time thanks to its powerful Raptor engine.
The rocket prototype briefly rose by about 65.6ft (20m), moved to the side and landed.
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The powerful rocket engine will power both stages of SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket or BFR.
The upper stage will be the sleek stainless-steel Starship spacecraft that will fly crews in space.
The Starship will be able to carry up to 100 people at once, promising to send manned crews to the surface of the Moon and Mars.
The lowers stage, the Falcon Heavy, will be a monstrous booster stage featuring a total of 41 Raptors for liftoff.
Once completed, the Falcon Heavy booster will be the most powerful launch vehicle since NASA’s Saturn V rocket used in the Apollo Moon landings.
The Starhopper test flight came shortly after SpaceX’s successful Falcon 9 launch for NASA.
The rocket launch saw about 5,000 lbs of cargo blast off into space to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS).