The SpaceX Starship system is a fully-reusable, two-stage-to-orbit, super heavy-lift launch vehicle under development by SpaceX since 2012, as a self-funded private spaceflight project.
The second stage—which is also referred to as “Starship”—is being designed as a long-duration cargo, and eventually, passenger-carrying spacecraft. It is being used initially without any booster stage at all, as part of an extensive development program to prove out launch-and-landing and iterate on a variety of design details, particularly with respect to the vehicle’s atmospheric reentry. While the spacecraft is currently being tested on its own at suborbital altitudes during 2019–20, it will later be used on orbital launches with an additional booster stage, the Super Heavy, where the spacecraft will serve as both the second stage on the two-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle and the in-space long-duration orbital spaceship.
Integrated system testing of a proof of concept for Starship began in March 2019, with the addition of a single Raptor rocket engine to a reduced-height prototype, nicknamed Starhopper – similar to Grasshopper, an equivalent prototype of the Falcon 9 reusable booster. Starhopper was used from April through August 2019 for static testing and low-altitude, low-velocity flight testing of vertical launches and ...