Science

SpaceX's Starhopper aces 150 meter test flight after recent failure

SpaceX's Starhopper aces 150 meter test flight after recent failure”

The test, which was the prototype's second test following a July jump to an altitude of about 20 meters (65 foot), is meant to pave the way to a more powerful heavy lift booster.

The SpaceX Starhopper rocket prototype took off and landed successfully in south Texas Tuesday afternoon marking another step in founder Elon Musk's mission to colonize Mars.

On Aug. 24 and then again yesterday, residents of Boca Chica Village, 1.5 miles west of the launch site, received hand-delivered alerts recommending that they evacuate the area before the scheduled hop in the event of an "overpressure event" caused by a malfunction during flight that could cause windows to break. The one-minute flight took Starhopper several hundred feet up and featured a sideways translation to a landing pad a short distance away.

SpaceX's next-generation launch system has passed a key test in Texas.

Starhopper's latest flight, which lasted just 57 seconds, was enough to see the stumpy cylinder-shaped craft reach its FAA-approved 150 metre (492-foot) altitude limit, just after 6 pm EDT (22:00 GMT). Mars. One way to get there is via the SpaceX's Starship Hopper, a spaceship which would be used to shuttle earthlings to colonize Mars eventually. This was the first time a large rocket engine burning liquid-methane propellant made a significant flight, and it appeared to be mostly, if not entirely, successful.

SpaceX Successfully Completed 500 Feet Starhopper Test Flight
An artist's rendering of Starship in flight. Source SpaceX Flickr

The Raptor is created to power Musk's forthcoming heavy-lift Starship rocket, a reusable two-stage booster taller than the Statue of Liberty that is expected to play a central role in Musk's interplanetary space travel objectives, including missions to Mars. Starhopper flew with only one Raptor, but the final Starship design requires six such engines on the shipboard. Starship, though, will be able to fly on its own and even make orbit, the company says. The vehicle will be converted into a vertical stand for Raptor, a type of rocket engine. There are two Starships now under construction, one in Boca Chica and one in Cocoa, Florida, and Musk concedes he hopes that competition between the two teams of workers will serve as encouragement.

If all goes according to plan, Starship and Super Heavy could start launching satellites as early as 2021 and begin flying people just two years later.

Eddie Treviño, the local county judge, told CNN Business there was a "huge, huge sense of excitement" about the SpaceX Starhopper project.

Why the test was so special was because of the possibility of human travel to the moon and Mars.



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