WASHINGTON – SpaceX has begun initial testing of the first prototype of the Next Generation Starship Launcher at its South Texas test site.
The "Star Hopper" vehicle briefly fired its only Raptor engine into the pad on April 3 during a test, followed by a second test on April 5. In both cases, the engine ignited only a few seconds and the grounded vehicle lifted only a very short distance from the ground.
Starhopper completed tailed hops. All Systems Green ", Musk tweeted on April 3 after the first test. After the second test on April 6, he released a two-second video in which the engine was ignited and the vehicle, largely hidden by the cloud from the engine, seemed to rise slightly from the pad. "Starhopper has just run off and has exceeded the limits of tethers!" He said after the second test.
Starhopper had just lifted the Zugseilbegrenzung! pic.twitter.com/eByJsq2jiw
̵1; Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 6, 2019
Starhopper is a prototype of Starship that will form the next level of SpaceX. Generation, fully reusable launcher. The vehicle currently being tested is only the lower part housing engines, fuel tanks and landing gear. An upper section consisting of a nose cone was damaged earlier this year during a storm in Texas, and SpaceX decided not to repair the vehicle for this vehicle, as it was not needed for the low altitude test flights planned for that purpose.  The vehicle later runs a series of free flights to test if it is possible to take off and land vertically. In a license application to the Federal Communications Commission last November, SpaceX announced that it had planned a series of test flights of the vehicle, initially 500 meters and later 5,000 meters high. The ups and downs of these tests meant that the vehicle was called a "funnel" and later as a "Star Hopper".
The test flights have caught the attention of both locals and space travelers, some of whom have arrived. On the Gulf Coast near Brownsville, Texas, you can take a look at the vehicle and its flight tests. Webcams regularly track activity on the site, although the last fog on April 5 last year was thick fog, making it difficult to detect anything other than the lightning from Starhoppers engine when he stopped shortly afterwards.
Neither Musk nor SpaceX have disclosed schedules for upcoming test flights. Prior to the test on April 5, SpaceX spent several hours a day at the Federal Aviation Administration (Air Aviation Administration) from April 5 to 7 in an airspace that had the test site at an altitude of 300 meters submitted daily. After the April 5 test, SpaceX withdrew the airspace restrictions imposed by the FAA on April 6 and 7.
Musk said last month that they are already working on the second Starship prototype capable of orbiting. Finally, SpaceX Starship will pair with a booster level called Super Heavy to get big payloads into orbit. These vehicles are also the cornerstone of SpaceX's plans to establish a human presence on Mars starting in the 2020s.