Space X has successfully completed its second untethered test flight for Starhopper - the prototype that will eventually become the company's Mars-bound flagship spacecraft, Starship.
The successful test will likely lead to full-scale prototype tests for this year.
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The latest tests from SpaceX had the company "hopping," or hovering, its prototype spacecraft above the ground. During the test, Starhopper was made to hover around 150 meters (roughly 500 feet) above the ground at SpaceX's Boca Chica, TX facilities.
After the hop, which lasted a little less than a minute, the prototype spacecraft successfully landed back onto a prepared target landing pad.
This is the second successful untethered test flight. Previously, SpaceX successfully hovered Starhopper for a third of the new time (about 22 seconds) and flew up to 20 meters (about 65 feet).
Last night's successful test flight can be viewed below.
Elon Musk tweeted his congratulations to the team, and later posted a picture of the successfully landed spacecraft, with the caption "R2D2's Dad."
Congrats SpaceX team!! pic.twitter.com/duckYSK0D4— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 27, 2019
As Ars Technica reports, this successful test will go a long way towards helping full prototype tests take place by the end of the year.
Awesome. BRAVO. pic.twitter.com/rSonxOWiqZ— ✍Leonardo d'Anchiano (@HdAnchiano) August 27, 2019
The final model Starship vehicle, which will form the second stage of SpaceX's upcoming Super Heavy rocket, could fly as soon as 2021, according to the company.
The power of Starship's final design
The Starhopper prototype is using one specially made Raptor engine for its "hop" tests.
To put this in perspective, Elon Musk has announced that the final design, including Super Heavy, will include roughly 41 Raptor engines.
There are still many hurdles to go before SpaceX has a real Mars-ready spacecraft on their hands, but this untethered "hop" test shows impressive progress from Elon Musk's company.