SpaceX's Moon Spacecraft Starhopper FINALLY takes its test at Boca Chica, as Elo
SpaceX's Starhopper craft leapt without a leash for the first ever last night in an explosive step forward for the company and its mission to reach Mars.
On July 26 at about 11:45 pm Eastern time, Starhopper ignited its Raptor engines from its home base in Boca Chica Texas lighting up the night sky and engulfing the chrome space craft in a shroud of thick smoke.
For the first time since Starhopper's inception, the craft -- a squat and strikingly large ship -- briefly hovered 20 meters off the ground without a tether.
Starship is SpaceX’s long-term project to produce a spacecraft that can make it to the Moon, and then eventually Mars and beyond. The company envisions future versions of Starship traveling out of our solar system entirely, but first, it has to get off the ground. In a test on Thursday night, the Starship prototype Starhopper did indeed leave solid ground, but that’s about all it did.
Built specifically to test the technology that will eventually power the larger Starship variants, Starhopper has fired its engines before but never hovered without a tether before this week. The flight was brief, and it’s unclear if the spacecraft nailed its expected height of 65 feet, but it did indeed fly.
In a tweet, SpaceX and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk joked -- referencing Starhopper's unique appearance -- that, 'Water towers *can* fly.'
The test, which Musk called a success, marks a quick turnaround from static fires of the rocket carried out earlier this week which saw the craft's engine shoot fire out of a vent near its domed top.
According to Musk, the fire was caused by a 'post-test fuel leak' but 'no major damage' resulted.
SpaceX completed its first successful test firing of the 60 foot tall Raptor engine, causing it to lift briefly off of the launch pad, in April.
Starhopper's launch coincided with yet another successful SpaceX launch of its Falcon 9 rocket which took off out of a Florida base yesterday from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.