SpaceX successfully fired up the Starhopper, the first test version of the planned Starship, the company's next-gen 100-person spacecraft. However, the test only lasted shortly.
On Wednesday, April 3, CEO Elon Musk tweeted about the short rocket test firing at SpaceX's newest launch site in Boca Chica, Texas. In the same post, Musk confirmed that the Starship prototype's nickname is "Starhopper."
His tweet also includes a livestream footage captured by a Starship watcher.
Starhopper completed tethered hop. All systems green. https://t.co/0m5Bm5slD2 — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 4, 2019
The ignition, known as a static fire, was intended to test out the final Starship vehicle’s basic design as well as the technologies while it stayed tethered to Earth.
The first test took place at 8:56 p.m. EDT. 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.
Starhopper marked the first time it ignited its engine, which will be most possibly followed by short hop flights in upcoming months.
The stainless steel-made prototype has an estimated diameter of 30 feet or about 9 meters. The company originally built it with a nose cone, making it 128 feet or 39 meters long. The powerful winds blew off the cone, however. According to Musk, the initial test hops do not require nose cone.
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 tests entail firing up the engines attached to the bottom of the vehicle, The Verge reported.
These flights will enable the company to test out its new powerful Raptor engine. It is a key component of the hardware that will be utilized to power the Starship and massive Super Heavy booster.
Musk said SpaceX is currently building the giant Starship spacecraft at its test facility and launch site in Texas. It will carry passengers to the moon and Mars. Japanese billionaire entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa is the first to sign as its passenger. Maezawa shall fly with a group of artists around the moon perhaps in 2023 at the earliest.