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SpaceX Starhopper Starship makes one small hop for mankind

SpaceX Starhopper Starship makes one small hop for mankind

SpaceX has started initial tethered tests of the first prototype of its next generation Starship launch vehicle at its South Texas test site. It was short that it only lasted less than 60 seconds based on one of the video feeds all the way from SpaceX's launch site.

Prior to Starship's maiden voyage to space in a few years, the company plans to first carry out several hover flights with the Starhopper. The video featured above was captured by Spadre.com, a website for the South Padre Surf Company on South Padre Island across from SpaceX's facility. The April 3 test most likely involved one engine and according to Musk's earlier comments, didn't travel very high in the sky and it was connected to ground equipment for most of the time.

"This is the first ever firing of a rocket engine at the launch site", Next Spaceflight's Michael Baylor tweeted.

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The completion of the tethered hop test paves the way for untethered tests.

And he added in another post: "First hops will lift off, but only barely". A suborbital hop would require all three engines.

The SpaceX Starhopper is a suborbital prototype created to test the concepts and technologies necessary to construct its new 100-person spacecraft, called Starship, and its massive booster, the Super Heavy. The company originally built it with a nose cone, making it 128 feet or 39 meters long. Musk later said that the nosecone was unnecessary for continued testing of the prototype. It will be used to conduct more hover flights in future before launching the Starship into deep space. In its now planned configuration, the Super Heavy would use its 31 Raptor engines to send the refuelable Starship on transcontinental point-to-point trips between earthly spaceports, on orbital missions to deploy bunches of satellites, and on journeys beyond Earth orbit.