Yesterday, August 27, SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket prototype flew up for the second time in southern Texas, reaching the height of a small skyscraper (about 150 meters), and landed on Earth. The flight demonstrated the ability of the vehicle to take off and land in a controlled manner, and this opens the way for more serious tests of the vehicle in the coming months.
The Starhopper tests are supposed to evaluate the design and hardware that will be used in the future Starship rocket, a spacecraft-monster developed by SpaceX to send people and cargo to such distant places as the Moon and Mars.
A spaceship with a height of about 180 feet (55 meters) is created to launch using the giant Super Heavy accelerator. It is assumed that landing on other planets will be carried out vertically, as the first steps of the Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy do. After that, the rocket will be ready to take off from the surface of the Moon or Mars and fly back to Earth.
During these tests, SpaceX tested the new Raptor engine, which the company plans to use in Starship. Starhopper flew with only one Raptor, but the final Starship design requires six such engines on the shipboard. Three of them will be optimized for better work in the atmosphere of our planet at sea level, and the other three – for work in a space vacuum.
The first flight of a ship should take place as early as 2021; expeditions to the Moon and Mars will begin in 2023-2025.