Science

SpaceX’s Starhopper takes its first rocket hop, marking another step toward Mars

SpaceX’s Starhopper takes its first rocket hop, marking another step toward Mars”

The aim is to have the Starship and Super Heavy ready for passengers by the mid-2020s, in order to carry Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and an entourage of artists around the moon ... and set the stage for Mars trips.

The post also embedded a video from Starship watcher @LabPadre, who tweeted: "All systems green".

With a deafening roar that rattled windows, SpaceX - the rocket company founded by Elon Musk - fired up its new Mars rocket-ship prototype for the first time Wednesday.

The test occurred at 8.56pm EDT (12.56am GMT April 4) and lasted less than a minute.

Starhopper was also tethered, or connected to ground equipment, for the duration of the test.

There aren't many details on the Starhopper test, however, SpaceX engineers and technicians have been conducting various tests on the Starship prototype, analyzing the cryogenic properties of the fuel tanks, loading liquid oxygen and liquid methane fuels onto the vehicle, and removing the propellant, Ars Technica noted. The test likely used one engine and didn't get very high, based on earlier comments by Musk.

"First (really short) hops with one engine", Musk wrote on Twitter March 17. Before its stainless steel Starship could take to the skies, however, its test version needs to make a few hops first.

Elon Musk has previously stated the nose cone is unnecessary the initial test hops. If the Raptor engine and Starship Hopper remain in good condition after the test we might see more hops in the future and, eventually, untethered ones.

The test rocket vertical takeoff and landing plan is similar to how the company tested a Falcon 9 rocket called the Grasshopper in 2012.



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