The prototype of the SpaceX’s starship passed its final test flight today (Aug. 27). It rose several hundred feet off the ground in Boca Chica.
Starhopper’s flight lasted almost a minute and during that time it lifted off just after 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT; 5 p.m. local Texas time), reached a hovering altitude and then flew sideways to touch down at a separate nearby landing pad.
“Congrats SpaceX team!!” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter just after the flight.
The ceiling for today’s flight was 150 meters (about 500 feet), Elon Musk said via Twitter this week. That limit was imposed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which will grant licenses for launches and test flights.
In the first two tests that happened in early April, the craft barely separated from the ground.
You can watch SpaceX’s full 30-minute webcast replay below.
One Raptor powers the Starhopper while the 100-passenger Starship will have six Raptors and the Super Heavy will sport 35, with space for two more on the rocket, Musk has said.
There are also two orbital prototypes, which SpaceX named them Starship Mk1 and Mk2. The company is building Mk1 in Boca Chica and Mk2 on Florida’s Space Coast.
Mk1 and Mk2 will be powered by at least three Raptors, Musk has said. The test launches of these prototypes could begin as early as 2021.
The first few commercial liftoffs are planned to take communications satellites. However, shortly after that, the first passenger trip could follow and already the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has booked a Starship flight around the moon, with a target launch date of 2023.
Mars missions will follow if all goes according to plan. That’s right, this is the main goal of SpaceX, and Musk has always held to that idea, and he repeatedly says that the reason he created this company was to help the human race to colonize Mars and finally become a multi-planet species..
“Yes, last flight for Hopper. If all goes well, it will become a vertical test stand for Raptor,” Musk said via Twitter on Saturday.