From a technical standpoint, the test was impressive, demonstrating the thrust and vector control of the new Raptor engine. This was the first time a large rocket engine burning liquid-methane propellant made a significant flight, and it appeared to be mostly, if not entirely, successful. SpaceX engineers can take confidence from this test as they move into finishing their builds of Starship orbital prototypes in Texas and Florida later this year.
The test may have had more political significance, however. SpaceX seeks to demonstrate that Starship is a viable vehicle for NASA to consider flying astronauts to and from the Moon and other destinations. Visually, the flight of the stubby Starhopper was arresting: it took off in a cloud of smoke and landed in the reddish—almost Mars-red—dust it kicked up at the landing site.
Congrats SpaceX team!! pic.twitter.com/duckYSK0D4— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 27 augustus 2019
And here's a full video:
This is the final launch of the Starhopper craft. Future tests of the Raptor engine will use new rocket prototypes with three Raptor engines and eventually this will lead to tests of the Starship rocket. Starship will have an upper stage with six Raptor engines and a Super Heavy booster with 35 Raptors.