SpaceX Starhopper: Starship prototype will leap 16,400ft in launch test, documents reveal
SpaceX is pushing the envelope of what is possible since it started in 2002. The pioneering Elon Musk-owned space company has already revolutionised the rocket-building business with its reusable spacecraft. And SpaceX is now testing its next-gen rocket prototype – the Starship hopper.
SpaceX is set to launch test flights of the Starhopper to a height of up to 16,400ft (5,000m).
This is according to documents filed with the US Federal Communications Commission.
The filing reads: ”The vehicle will fly vertically from the ground to under 500 meters for its low-altitude tests and up to 5000m for its high-altitude tests.”
The documents add Starhopper will be launched out of the SpaceX South Texas launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk last month shared footage of the Starhopper lifting off and hitting its tether limits.
The Starhopper is not designed to reach outer space, but instead test the single Raptor engine-powered tethered prototype of the Starship that eventually aims to get humans off the Earth to Mars.
Elon Musk is planning to launch a fully crewed Starship for a trip around the moon in 2023.
The Starhopper first fired up on April 3, with the US Federal Aviation Administration originally posting an airspace closure of up to 1,000 feet high around the Boca Chica facility “to provide a safe environment for rocket launch and recovery”.
Elon Musk has drip fed clues the suborbital prototype demonstration will take place on June 20.
Starship’s Super Heavy booster has been taking shape in the last couple of months.
READ MORE – NASA teases COMPLETE Mars 2020 Rover craft
And the SpaceX CEO announced the Starship’s orbital prototype would be ready around June.
Images from the test facility have shown the eye-catching ship undergoing construction.
SpaceX has made rapid progress toward its goal of developing a ship capable of taking on both more ambitious missions in addition to more standard cargo missions for commercial clients.
SpaceX unveiled initial designs for Starship in September 2017 under the BFR name.
Starship’s first version had a diameter of 30ft, height of 348ft, and a weight of 9.7 million pounds.
Starship’s Raptor engine will use liquid oxygen and methane instead of standard propellant.
This means manned missions can establish propellant depots and return home from Mars — or even venture out further and establish a planet-hopping network.
Each Raptor engine provides 38,000 pounds of thrust, using 31 in total to provide liftoff thrust of 10.8 million pounds.
This is equivalent to double the capacity of the Falcon Heavy, currently the most powerful SpaceX rocket in operation.
A further seven engines will reside on the ship itself.
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