June 24, 2019

SpaceX Starhopper Starship makes one small hop for mankind

06 April 2019, 10:24 | Edward Lowe

SpaceX Starhopper Starship makes one small hop for mankind

Starship test flight rocket just finished assembly at the SpaceX Texas launch site

Starhopper was built at SpaceX's Boca Chica launch facility, near Brownsville, Texas, and the company's fans have been watching avidly from afar as ground crews installed the first Raptor engine and tested out the propulsion system's plumbing.

There have been several delays in testing the Starship including one event in which the ship was knocked over by heavy winds and required repairs.

It was the first time the SpaceX has used an engine on the suborbital Starhopper, which will eventually make more and more test flights with three Raptor engines at higher altitudes.

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The test occurred at 8.56pm EDT (12.56am GMT April 4) and lasted less than a minute.

The SpaceX Starhopper is a suborbital prototype created to test the concepts and technologies necessary to construct its new 100-person spacecraft, called Starship, and its massive booster, the Super Heavy. Founder Elon Musk shared some fresh fiery test footage this weekend, declaring that "Starhopper just lifted off and hit tether limits!"

"First (really short) hops with one engine", Musk wrote on Twitter March 17.

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Musk's declaration that Starhopper hit the end of its tether indicates the second hop was likely higher than the first. A suborbital hop would require all three engines.

Starhopper appears to be an amalgamation of Starship and Grasshopper, the latter being SpaceX's earlier hopping prototype that led to the company's reusable workhorse Falcon 9 rocket boosters.

SpaceX's Starship hopper originally had a nose, which is now not on the prototype. "All systems green", tweeted Elon Musk shortly after the test.

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The engine that will go into the ship, the Raptor, is homegrown by SpaceX.

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