SpaceX Efficiently Check-Fires Its ‘Starhopper’ Prototype Spacecraft

Olive Hawkins
April 7, 2019

SpaceX Founder Elon Musk tweeted last month that the first Starship spacecraft is being now built at the company's test facility and launch site in Texas, US.

There aren't many details on the Starhopper test, however, SpaceX engineers and technicians have been conducting various tests on the Starship prototype, analyzing the cryogenic properties of the fuel tanks, loading liquid oxygen and liquid methane fuels onto the vehicle, and removing the propellant, Ars Technica noted. Founder Elon Musk shared some fresh fiery test footage this weekend, declaring that "Starhopper just lifted off and hit tether limits!" These "hoppers" have been often used by SpaceX to test rockets in the past. "All systems green", Musk tweeted April 3 after the initial test.

The ignition, known as a static fire, was meant to test out the final Starship vehicle's basic design as well as the technologies while it stayed tethered to Earth. The Starship is SpaceX's big passenger spacecraft that the private American aerospace manufacturer is building to send people to Mars and the Moon. Also, the FAA issued airspace restrictions around the launch site on Boca Chica Beach.

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Elon Musk treated in a tweet last month: "First (really short) hops with one engine ..."

SpaceX is now working on receiving regulatory approvals to fly from Boca Chica and Cape Canaveral, where the company is building both the Starship and the Super Heavy. This will help the Starship's test version to fly in the atmosphere but at low altitudes until it gradually returns back to the ground.

SpaceX spread fliers to locals before the test took place, so that special checkpoints will be set up during the test, in order to keep a safety perimeter. In January, Musk revealed the first photo of the Starship prototype, which looked like a retro-inspired spaceship and a shiny silver bullet.

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