Starhopper, a test prototype of SpaceX’s Mars-colonizing Starship spacecraft, flew high into the South Texas skies on Aug. 27, acing its fourth and final test ride. The flight took Starhopper several hundred feet up and landed at the touchdown pad a short distance away.
The new picture, which SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk posted on Twitter, captures Starhopper just before that landing. Dust kicked up by the descent billows across the vehicle, and a column of flame extends from Starhopper’s single Raptor engine down the touchdown pad.
The second put Musk in a contemplative mood. In the future Starship will land on the rusty sands of Mars, he wrote in the Twitter post.
The flight brings future milestone just a little closer. Starhopper has confirmed its mettle and can now be changed into a Raptor test stand, Musk has stated. The following test flights will reach Earth orbit; they usually are carried out by advanced prototypes generally known as Starship Mk1 and Mk2.
Mk1 is being constructed at SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, the site that has hosted Starhopper’s forays into the sky. Mk2 is coming collectively on Florida’s Area Coast. The thought is to improve the design of the final 100-passenger Starship by spurring some intracompany competitors, Musk has mentioned.
Each Mk1 and Mk2 will sport a minimum of three Raptors. The operational Starship can have six engines, and the Super Heavy rocket that can launch the spacecraft from Earth shall be powered by 35 Raptors, Musk has stated. (These numbers might change, nonetheless; the billionaire entrepreneur has promised a Starship design update soon.)
If all goes based on the plan, Starship and Super Heavy may begin launching satellites as early as 2021 and start flying people two years later. Indeed, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has booked a Starship flight across the moon that is at present targeted for 2023.
Starhopper’s first two hops happened in early April. On each event, the automobile was tethered for security’s sake and barely rose off the ground. Starhopper was tested for the first time on July 25, when the heavy prototype soared on a flight with a most anticipated altitude of 65 feet (20 meters). The flight had a ceiling of 150 m (about 500 feet), a limit imposed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.