These photos of Stoke Space's 'Hopper' reusuable rocket test are just amazing

a silver rocket flies against a cloudy blue sky.
Stoke Space's Hopper test vehicle conducts a test flight at Moses Lake, Washington on Sept. 17, 2023. (Image credit: Stoke Space)

Stoke Space shared stunning new photos from a recent flight test of the company's Hopper reusable rocket prototype.

The flight test, called Hopper2, included a vertical takeoff and vertical landing demonstration, during which the reusable second-stage rocket successfully lifted about 30 feet (9 meters) off the ground and then safely touched down in its targeted landing zone after 15 seconds of flight. 

The recent photos that Stoke Space shared on X (formerly Twitter) show the spacecraft on the launch pad at the company's test site in Moses Lake, Washington, along with the bright blaze ignited by the rocket's hydrogen/oxygen engine during liftoff. 

Related: Stoke Space gets closer to 100% reusable rocket with successful 'Hopper' test flight (video)

The test, performed on Sept. 17,  was meant to demonstrate several of Hopper's systems and design elements, including its novel hydrogen/oxygen engine, coolant-based heat shield and a propulsion system that maneuvers the rocket by throttling its different engines. 

While the spacecraft didn't directly experience the heat from hypersonic reentry to Earth's atmosphere during its test flight, it has successfully operated at 100% of the expected heat load in a simulated environment, bringing the company one step closer towards developing fully reusable rockets

The Hopper2 demonstration flight tested the spacecraft's hydrogen/oxygen engine, coolant-based heat shield and propulsion system.   (Image credit: Stoke Space)

"This test was the last test in our Hopper technology demonstration program. We successfully completed all of the planned objectives," the company said in a statement announcing the successful test launch. "We've also proven that our novel approach to robust and rapidly reusable space vehicles is technically sound, and we've obtained an incredible amount of data that will enable us to confidently evolve the vehicle design from a technology demonstrator to a reliable reusable space vehicle."

Following the successful test of the second stage rocket, Stoke Space will now shift its focus to developing a reusable first stage in order to reach the company's goal of building a 100% reusable rocket with a turnaround time of just 24 hours. 

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Samantha Mathewson
Contributing Writer

Samantha Mathewson joined as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13. 

  • fj.torres
    Anybody remember the MDD DC-X prototypes from 30 years ago?
    Look it up. Now *that* was ambitious: they were aiming for SSTO.

    (A while back somebody asked Musk if a Starship variant could make orbit without the booster and his answer was yes, but with almost no payload. Almost is not zero so small satellite launchers need to keep an eye on Starship.)
  • PHS
    It looks like a scene directly out of a 1950's era movie.
  • Classical Motion
    That's what I was thinking....50s sci-fi. A little jerky and out of kilter.
  • Classical Motion
    The most impressive man made motion I've seen, was those satellite hunter killers.

    Duty cycle drive.
  • Mikey
    54 years ago it was impressive when a spaceship landed people on the Moon. Nowadays it's amazing when an unmanned spaceship reaches an altitude of 9 metres!

    That's some incredible progress.