SpaceX fired its Star Hopper test vehicle for the biggest hop ever (July 24), but the missile broke off the flight just seconds after the launch of the experiment.
Starhopper, a prototype for SpaceX's Starship program, detonated its Raptor engine at the company's Boca Chica test site in South Texas for about 3 seconds, but the vehicle could not take off. Instead of hopping about 20 meters as planned, the rocket emitted flame and smoke and then switched off.
"It seems like we have canceled today's test," said SpaceX Certification Engineer Kate Tice during a webcast of the Star Hopper test. "As you can see there, the vehicle is not off-hook today."
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SpaceX's Starhopper conducted two short test runs in early April, as well as ground testing of the main engine of the Raptor rocket fueled by liquid methane and liquid oxygen. Today's test flight was planned for Starhopper as the first unconnected flight. His Raptor engine fired with a capacity of 80%, Tice said.
"This is a development program," she added. "Today was a test flight planned to test the limits of the vehicle."
The test flight canceled on Wednesday was scheduled to take place last week, but Starhopper encountered a problem in a routine preflighting test of the Raptor. Shortly after the static fire, Starhopper was in a huge fireball, but according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the vehicle remained largely undamaged.
"Yes, the big advantage of being made of high-strength stainless steel: not disturbed by a little heat!" Musk wrote on Twitter.
Starhopper is designed to test key technologies for SpaceX's even larger Starship vehicle and its massive 35 Raptor boosters, the Super Heavy. According to Musk, the spaceship is powered by six raptors.
The Starship / Super Heavy Combination is a fully reusable launch system that lets 100 people into space simultaneously. The company intends to use Starship as a main truck and a private tourist flight around the moon (a billionaire has already bought the first flight) and any trips to Mars.
Below is the full Starxpo test hop SpaceX video.