Going up: Watch SpaceX's Starhopper soar to new heights
A prototype of the Starship spacecraft that SpaceX hopes to one day send to Mars has had its second outing, and a hugely successful one at that. The Starhopper completed its second test hop at the company’s Boca Chica test facility in Texas today, reaching its highest altitude yet before returning safely to solid ground.
A fully developed Starship would offer the carrying capacity needed to deliver dozens of people and cargo to the surface of Mars, though there is a long way to go before that happens.
The program is for now in its early testing phase, with engineers at SpaceX putting a prototype named Starhopper through a series of sub-orbital, up-and-down jaunts to practice their launching and landing chops.
Last month it completed the first of these, sending Starhopper up to an altitude of 20 meters (65 ft), holding it at that altitude briefly and then bringing it back down to Earth. Those following the Starhopper’s progress will have noted the difficulty in seeing much of anything in video shared by SpaceX of the night-time flight, but this time around we’ve been treated to a much clearer view.
Today’s hopper test flight upped the ante in a big way, with the glimmering prototype rising to an altitude of 150 m (490 ft) during the light of day, and nailing the landing thereafter.
SpaceX boss Musk said prior to launch that that this will be the final flight for Hopper, if it all goes well, which it appears that it did. SpaceX will now move onto testing more fleshed out versions of the Starship, with the CEO to conduct a technical presentation of a more complete prototype in “hopefully mid-September.”
See the Starhopper hit new heights in the video below.