JUL 28, 2019 6:10 AM PDT

SpaceX's Starhopper Prototype Makes First Untethered Flight

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

SpaceX made significant progress on its deep-space Starhopper starship project last week after a prototype of the spacecraft’s rocket conducted its first untethered flight at the commercial space company’s South Texas-based proving ground in Boca Chica just before midnight on Thursday.

Image Credit: Elon Musk/Twitter

Equipped with a single roaring Raptor engine, the Starhopper prototype lofted itself up and away from the ground and jumped 20 meters into the air before landing. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter shortly after the test launch to say, “Starhopper test flight successful. Water towers *can* fly haha!!”

SpaceX had initially planned to conduct this test launch a day earlier, but fuel chamber pressure complications compelled the company to stand down and wait another day. Fortunately, Thursday’s test launch was successful and well worth the wait. Here’s some footage of that test launch, shared to YouTube by Everyday Astronaut:

Related: Watch SpaceX fly a Tesla Roadster into space with its Falcon Heavy rocket platform

The launch was also substantial because it involved the flight of a full-flow-staged-combustion (FFSC) rocket engine. While space agencies around the world have built prototypes of this breed of engine before, they’ve never flown them. SpaceX officially became the first entity in the world to fly one of these types of engines on Thursday. 

While it may not look like much at first glance, this is the first step for SpaceX in proving its upcoming Starhopper platform. If anything, the launch proved to the company’s engineers that the platform is stable enough to continue development.

The final product is expected to look much different than what we witnessed in the footage, and it will be particularly significant because it could become an interplanetary transportation platform for future missions to the Moon and Mars, among other things.

Related: Is SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet system bad for space science and astronomy?

As you might come to expect, SpaceX will move forward with more robust launch tests soon. The next test is poised to take the Starhopper prototype approximately 200 meters in the air, which is around ten times higher than what we saw here. It should be interesting to see how that goes…

Source: Space.com, Elon Musk (Twitter)

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 10, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 10, 2019
Mercury to be Visible as it Transits the Sun on Monday
Earthlings are in for some celestial eye candy on Monday, November 11th. Mercury, the smallest of the solar system’s eight planets, is expected to be...
DEC 02, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 02, 2019
The Air Force's X-37B Plane Spent 780 Days in Space, But Why?
The United States Air Force regularly conducts top-secret missions and science experiments on behalf of the federal government. One of the military branch&...
DEC 22, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 22, 2019
How Astronomers Measure Distances to Stars
Extra stellar systems are so far away from our own that we couldn’t even hope of developing a tape measure long enough to determine how far away they...
JAN 26, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 26, 2020
Betelgeuse Continues to Dim, But Why?
A nearby red supergiant star by the name of Betelgeuse has long been popular among astronomers, not only because of its massive size and close proximity to...
FEB 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 16, 2020
ISS Poised to Receive Fresh Supplies by Tuesday
Life on the International Space Station isn’t quite as convenient as it is for the rest of us here on Earth. With no convenient restaurants or conven...
FEB 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 18, 2020
Will We Ever Solve the Universe's 'Dark Matter' Mystery?
If you were to take a step back from the Milky Way and attempt to observe our universe, you’d see a plethora of bright and colorful sectors made up o...
Loading Comments...