SpaceX launched its "Hopper" spaceship on a short pilotless test flight at the company's test facility in Boca Chica, Texas, Tuesday, a dramatic demonstration of rocket technology paving the way for a new spacecraft new, more powerful Heavy lift booster and finally crewed interplanetary spaceship.
Due to a technical failure at the last second, the powerful Star Hopper Raptor engine was late at 18:02 EDT pushes the dull test vehicle directly into a clear blue sky over a jet of flame and a swirling exhaust cloud.
The spaceship, shaped a bit like R2-D2 from the Star Wars movies, seemed to reach its FAA-approved 150-foot altitude limit, moving sideways, slowly sinking to a landing on the finish a nearby landing site. The approximately one-minute flight was the second test of the rocket after a jump in July to a height of about 20 meters.
The hardware SpaceX tests is intended for a fully reusable two-stage vehicle with a powerful first stage, the Super Heavy Rocket and the winged spacecraft.
The Hopper is a sub-scale version of the Starship propulsion system that first uses a SpaceP-developed Raptor engine that burns cryogenic methane with liquid oxygen. The Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets and cargo and crew Dragon capsules were used to deliver supplies and eventually astronauts to the International Space Station.
"SpaceX's Spaceship and Super Heavy Rocket are designed to move satellites into orbit and beyond at a lower per-launch marginal cost than our current Falcon vehicles," reads the company's website.
With a payload of 30 feet wide, the spaceship can carry larger payloads into orbit than the current rocket. The company says Starship will eventually be able to transport crews and cargo to the Moon and eventually Mars ,
]said the company's "ambitious goal" was to launch a first cargo mission to Mars in 2022, followed by a flight with crew as early as 2024. It is expected The development of the rocket is imminent and these goals could change.
Musk congratulated the team on Tweet Tuesday Night: