SpaceX has successfully launched its water tower-esque spacecraft, Starhopper, 150 metres into the sky. Why? You might ask. While "Elon Musk" should suffice as an answer, it's actually an impressive milestone.
SpaceX has completed its first untethered leap of Starhopper — a prototype for its planned Starship vehicle. The brief but important test now sets the stage for more ambitious jumps.
SpaceX is planning to making commercial trips to space a viable option by 2021 but to do that, they need to test a hell of a lot before they load rich humans into steel tubes and launch them into space.
The spacecraft everyone, Musk included, jokingly refers to as a water tower, is designed to help test out the Raptor engines planned to be used in the Starship. The idea is that rockets can be resusable so they can land safely without damaging the frame or the people inside them. To do so, the Starhopper needs to be able to successfully perform a number of low-altitude and low-impact launches and landings.
The most recent 150-metre launch was successful and demonstrated it was possible for the Starhopper to launch and land without any major hitches.
But the whole project hasn't been without issues.
In July 2019, it was planned to launch 20 metres in the air but while Raptor's engines did fire, it didn't lift, shooting out fire from the top instead.
The next step for Musk and his SpaceX team will be surely be more testing until this thing can go higher and land safer. After that, it's Mars apparently. Did you really expect any different?
One day Starship will land on the rusty sands of Mars pic.twitter.com/EfENYVdOzM
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 27, 2019
A week after a fireball erupted from the base of SpaceX’s prototype “StarHopper” rocket during a static-fire test at the company’s Boca Chica, Texas facility, the company’s first “untethered” test launch of the craft was aborted after encountering technical difficulties on Thursday, CNBC reported.