SpaceX Starhopper completes 150m hover test

Posted on Wednesday, Aug 28 2019 @ 09:05 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
The SpaceX Starhopper experimental spacecraft successfully completed its 150 meter "hop". The goal here was to test the thrust and vector control of the space flight firm's new Raptor engine. The Starhopper craft went nearly straight up to 150 meters and then, using just a single Raptor engine, it moved laterally for about 100 meters before performing a controlled landing on a different landing pad. Full details at ARS Technica, which also discusses the political ramifications.
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.

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.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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