WASHINGTON — SpaceX has started initial tethered tests of the first prototype of its next generation Starship launch vehicle at its South Texas test site.
The vehicle, dubbed “Starhopper,” briefly fired its single Raptor engine during a test on the pad April 3, followed by a second test April 5. In both cases the engine fired for only a few seconds, and the vehicle, tethered to the ground, lifted off the ground by only a very short distance.
“Starhopper completed tethered hop. All systems green,” Musk tweeted April 3 after the initial test. He posted a two-second video after the second test April 6, showing the engine igniting and the vehicle, largely obscured by the plume from the engine, appearing to rise off the pad slight. “Starhopper just lifted off & hit tether limits!” he said after the second test.
Starhopper just lifted off & hit tether limits! pic.twitter.com/eByJsq2jiw
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 6, 2019
Starhopper is a prototype of Starship, intended to be the upper stage of SpaceX’s next-generation, fully reusable launch vehicle. The vehicle currently being tested is only the lower section, hosting engines, propellant tanks and landing gear. An upper section, consisting of a nose cone, ...