SpaceX successfully launched its Starhopper test rocket to the height of 150 meters at the Texas launch base in Boca Chica. The American FAA had only permitted for a 150-meter height, and Starhopper successfully climbed to the prescribed height, floated there for about 57 seconds, and then started its gradual descend which finally landed.
The SpaceX team used a Raptor methane engine which helped the rocket to climb to the height. It should be mentioned that the Starhopper landed vertically and the thrust knocked over a composite overwrapped pressure vessel. SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk thanked the entire team on Twitter on the success of the launch.
This is not the first time Starhopper’s flight was tested. Previously in April, Starhopper’s rocket engine was ignited, but it did not move much far away from the ground. At the end of July, the rocket made it to a height of 20 meters. But this is the first time that the rocket made its flight far away from the ground without any wire.
The test flight checked the Raptor engine and also focused on its vertical landing. The top stage of the rocket has 6 Raptor engines and the bottom part has at least 35 engines.
These small steps would eventually lead SpaceX to the successful development of the Starship rocket, the new large launcher from SpaceX. The successful testing is also a step forward toward’s fulfilling SpaceX’s Mars dream which Starship is expected to carry out.
This seems like the last test for Starhopper as SpaceX would not attempt to relaunch it. The follow-up tests for the Raptor engine would be done by new rocket prototypes in Boca Chica, and the second one would be conducted in Cape Canaveral. These engines would be more powerful than Starhopper as each of the engines has at least three Raptor engines, grid fins to steer, and better landing parts.