SpaceX announced its Starhopper test vehicle for its largest hop yet Wednesday (July 24). However, the rocket aborted the flight just seconds into the attempt.
Starhopper, a prototype for SpaceX’s Starship program, ignited its Raptor engine for about three seconds on the firm’s Boca Chica test site in South Texas. However, the vehicle failed to lift off. Instead of hopping up about 65 feet (20 meters) as deliberate, the rocket belched flame and smoke, then shut down.
“It seems as though we have had an abort on today’s test,” SpaceX certification engineer Kate Tice stated throughout a webcast of the Starhopper test. “As you can see there, the vehicle didn’t lift off today.”
SpaceX’s Starhopper has carried out two brief tethered test hops in early April, as well as ground tests of the rocket’s main Raptor engine, which is fueled by liquid methane and liquid oxygen. Today’s test flight was designed to be the first untethered flight for Starhopper, with its Raptor engine firing at 80% capability, Tice mentioned.
“It is a development program,” she added. “Today was a test flight designed to test the boundaries of the car.”
Wednesday’s aborted check hop was imagined to happen last week. However, Starhopper encountered a problem throughout a routine preflight static-fire test of its Raptor. Shortly after the static fire, Starhopper was engulfed in a huge fireball. However, the car emerged mostly undamaged, in accordance with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
“Yeah, a big benefit of being made of high-strength stainless-steel: not bothered by a little heat!” Musk wrote on Twitter at the time.
Starhopper is designed to test important technologies for SpaceX’s even-larger Starship vehicle and its huge 35-Raptor engine booster, the Super Heavy. Starship will be powered by six Raptors, Musk has mentioned.