Tuesday's one-minute test, which took place at Boca Chica in Texas, was the second hop for the vehicle after a modest 18m jump in July.
After two weeks of waiting for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) clearance, SpaceX is finally set to test launch its Starhopper rocket, a prototype for its future Mars exploration vehicle, Monday night in Texas.
During these tests, SpaceX tested the new Raptor engine, which the company plans to use in Starship. If everything goes as per plan, the prototypes, Mk1 and Mk2 will pave the way for Starship flights, which will be operational in early 2021.
With the test facility being close to a residential area in Boca Chica, Texas, SpaceX had already warned the locals that a potential malfunction could unleash pressure waves strong enough to break windows in the area. But first, it has to test even just one such rocket, and that's what the Starhopper test were for, particularly the untethered "hops".
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Starhopper is an early precursor to Starship, a spaceship design proposed by Musk that would blast off from Earth riding atop an enormous rocket, called Super Heavy, which is slated to be by far the most powerful launch vehicle ever created. The vehicle is a two-stage rocket consisting of the Super Heavy booster and the Starship upper stage.
If Musk's vision comes to fruition on his current timetable, Starship's first Mars landing could happen in the mid-2020s.
These types of "hop tests" are supposed to help SpaceX engineers figure out how to land the spacecraft on the surface of another planet.
The test, which was the prototype's second test following a July jump to an altitude of about 20 meters (65 foot), is meant to pave the way to a more powerful heavy lift booster. However, a "somewhat embarrassing" wiring problem with the only Raptor engine stopped the countdown less than a second before combustion, Musk, the SpaceX founder and chief executive, wrote on Twitter. Musk has said this will be the final test flight for this particular prototype, and that it will be converted into a test stand for Starship's Raptor engines. "Answer might be both", Musk tweeted in June.
Finishing a profitable mission to the moon would additionally mark an incremental step in Musk's different imaginative and prescient of touring to Mars.