SpaceX launched its Starhopper rocket prototype on its highest flight ever on 27 August 2019. Image credit: SpaceX
Starhopper’s biggest leap was also its last.
SpaceX’s first prototype for its Mars-colonising Starship vehicle aced its final test flight on 27 August 2019, rising several hundred feet off the ground at the company’s facility in the tiny South Texas town of Boca Chica, United States.
Starhopper lifted off just after 6:00 p.m. EDT (10:00 p.m. GMT; 5:00 p.m. local Texas time), reached a hover altitude and then flew sideways to touch town at a separate nearby landing pad. The entire flight lasted just 57 seconds.
“Congrats SpaceX team!!” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter just after the flight.
The ceiling for today’s flight was 150 metres (about 500 feet), SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter this week. That limit was imposed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which grants licenses for launches and test flights.
So, the recent leap was quite a bit higher than Starhopper’s three previous forays off of terra firma. The first two, conducted in early April, produced barely any separation between the craft and the ground; Starhopper was tethered for safety’s sake both ...