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.
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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