SpaceX’s prototype Starhopper rocket has successfully made its first free-flying test hop at the company’s Boca Chica proving ground in South Texas late Thursday. The rocket fired its single Raptor engine just before midnight and CEO Elon Musk stated that it would be a straight hop 65-feet (20 meters) up and then down. This test vehicle will explore vital technologies for SpaceX’s planned Starship and BFR, a launch system that can transport more payload than NASA’s Saturn V rocket. Read more to see the hop video and for additional information.
The final Starship design is capable of carrying up to 100 people at a time, and will be SpaceX’s main spacecraft for trips to the Moon and Mars or just for point-to-point travel around Earth. The test hop tonight followed an aborted attempt on Wednesday (July 24) when Starhopper fired its liquid methane/liquid oxygen fueled Raptor engine for just 3 seconds before shutting down due to high chamber pressure caused by “colder than expected propellant.”