SpaceX Perform First Fiery Hop Test of Starship Prototype

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

SpaceX's 'Starhopper' Starship Prototype Just Aced Its 1st Hop, Elon Musk Says

That's also the reason why Musk described the test hop as more of ground hop. The hopper version named the Starhopper remained on the ground during the static fire test that was conducted to try out Raptor.

The round-topped rocket is meant to serve as a testbed for SpaceX's interplanetary-class Starship, just as earlier testbeds known as the Grasshopper and the F9R Dev blazed a trail for SpaceX's self-landing Falcon 9 rocket boosters. "Starhopper completed tethered hop", Musk wrote in an update.

According to Musk, the Starhopper will not go very high since there is only a single Raptor attached to it.

While the vehicle was grounded, the test on Wednesday evening did mark the first time it lit up its engine. The rehearsals involved loading the vehicle's propellant tanks and verifying the performance of its avionics and plumbing. An upper section, consisting of a nose cone, was damaged during a windstorm at the Texas site earlier this year, and SpaceX decided not to fix it for this vehicle since it's not needed for the low-altitude test flights planned for it. These test will likely start with short hops of a few meters and ultimately culminate in tests lasting several minutes reaching altitudes of 5 kilometres or more. The up-and-down nature of these tests led to the vehicle being dubbed a "hopper" and, later, Starhopper. The hopper first fired up on April 3.

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Without making much fuss about it, SpaceX performed the test at the Boca Chica facility in Texas.

Neither Musk nor SpaceX have disclosed specific schedules for upcoming test flights.

The vehicle, affectionately nicknamed "Starhopper", is the guinea pig for what will become the final design of the Starship, a passenger aircraft SpaceX plans to use to take people to the Moon and Mars.

The first test took place at 8:56 p.m. EDT.

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