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SpaceX's Starhopper Prototype for Starship Reaches End of Its Rope In Test Hop

SpaceX's Starhopper prototype is at the end of its rope, literally. 

In a nighttime test Friday (April 5), the squat hopping testbed for SpaceX's future Starship spacecraft reached the end of its tether, rising what appears to be a few feet or more above the ground at its launch site. SpaceX performed the test at the company's Boca Chica test site near Brownsville, Texas, with the tether serving as a safety line on the vehicle. 

"Starhopper just lifted off & hit tether limits!" SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter today, showing a video of the brief hop. The video is just 2 seconds long, but shows the Starhopper clearly lifting up amid its fiery exhaust.  

Related: SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy Mars Rocket in Pictures

SpaceX's Starhopper prototype for Starship performs a test hope using its Raptor rocket engine on April 5, 2019 at the company's Boca Chica test center near Brownsville, Texas. (Image credit: Elon Musk/SpaceX)

Friday's test followed an earlier hop late Wednesday (April 3) in which SpaceX ignited the single Raptor rocket engine on Starhopper for the first time. That test was also a success, Elon Musk said on Twitter

SpaceX is in the early stages of testing Starhopper as part of the company's Starship program to develop a fully reusable spacecraft for deep-space missions to the moon, future Mars colonies and more. That Starship project aims to build and fly a 100-person spacecraft with the help of a massive Super Heavy booster rocket that would also be reusable.

SpaceX has already signed its first passenger for the Starship spacecraft, with  Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa  booking a trip around the moon slated to fly no earlier than 2023.  

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.