According to the company's CEO, Elon Musk, SpaceX has just launched the Starhopper prototype for its future Starship spacecraft.
Musk confirmed the short rocket test that took place at SpaceX's latest launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, near Brownsville, in a Twitter article published Wednesday (April 3rd). (In this post, he also confirmed Starhopper's nickname for the Starship prototype.)
"Starhopper has finished the jump," Musk wrote in the update, which also included a video of Starship Watcher @LabPadre. "All green systems."
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Starhopper completed the jumping of obstacles. All green systems. https://t.co/0m5Bm5slD2April 4, 2019
The test took place at 20:56. EDT (00:56 on April 4 GMT) and lasted less than a minute, according to one of the many video feeds viewing the company's launch site. The video shown above was captured by Spadre.com, a website of the South Padre Surf Company on South Padre Island, in front of the SpaceX facility. The camera is about 10 km from the SpaceX site.
Although the details of the Starhopper test are scarce, the anticipation has been strong in recent weeks as SpaceX has equipped the prototype with three of the company's new Raptor liquid methane oxygen engines. The test probably used a motor and was not very high, according to Musk's earlier comments. It has also been attached or connected to ground equipment for the duration of the test.
"First jumps (really short) with one engine", Musk wrote on Twitter on March 17. "Suborbital flights to three."
"The first jumps will take off, but hardly," he added in another post.
Starhopper is a suborbital prototype designed to test the concepts and technologies that SpaceX will need to build its new Starship spacecraft of 100 people, and its powerful Super Heavy accelerator. The name of the prototype seems to be a mashup of Starship and Grasshopper, the latter being the first prototype of SpaceX to jump, which led to the manufacture of the company's Falcon 9 reusable boosters.
The Starhopper prototype is made of stainless steel and has a diameter of about 9 meters (30 feet). SpaceX initially built the prototype with a nose cone, which gave it a height of 39 meters (128 feet). carried away by powerful winds. Musk said the nose cone was not needed for the initial hop test.
The spaceship is the space ship that SpaceX wants to use to colonize Mars, make point-to-point journeys around the Earth and perform various other tasks. The company has already hired its first passenger, the Japanese billionaire entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, who plans to fly with a group of artists around the moon – perhaps as early as 2023.
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