Elon Musk's 'Starhopper' prototype blasts off for its most ambitious test yet


The Starhopper is created to carry humans to different locations on Mars' surface when we arrive there, and today SpaceX has successfully achieved a 150 meter high flight test.

The planned test hopes to launch the rocket and have it ascend to about 150 meters before returning to the surface.

The Starhopper vehicle climbed above the plume of smoke put off by its Raptor engine, and a livestream of the test showed it hovering over the dusty floor of SpaceX's test site in Boca Chica, Texas, a remote border community on the Gulf Coast.

Police in the area had asked local residents to come out of their homes during the flight as a safety precaution, just in case the Raptor's firing produced a pressure wave capable of breaking windows. Impressive footage shows SpaceX's Starhopper launching from above the coastline of the USA state in a one-minute test. However, SpaceX was delayed with an FAA flight approval process that ballooned the insurance the company was required to hold for the test from $3 million to $100 million.

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's first try at an extended hop was aborted at the last second on Monday.

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The test was Starhopper's second and highest hop.

Musk also previously confirmed on Twitter that the latest test would be the last for this Starhopper. "One day Starship will land on the rusty sands of Mars". The teams will be doing "simultaneous competing builds" at their respective sites to "see which location is most effective", Musk tweeted in May. Starhopper has proven its mettle and will now be turned into a Raptor test stand, Musk has said.

Construction is now in progress at both SpaceX's Texas and Florida facilities on its full-scale Starship prototypes, which SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is ambitious will begin their own flight testing later this year, in perhaps as little as a few months. "It's quite robust", Musk said of the vehicle's design in an August 25 tweet.

The actual Starship vehicle, which will launch from Earth as the second stage of the under-development Super Heavy rocket, may take flight some time in 2020 or later, depending on prototype testing.

Correction: A previous version of this article inaccurately described the Starhopper test as a launch, which means an official payload mission by SpaceX terms. "Mars, Moon, maybe Venus, the moons of Jupiter, throughout the Solar System".