WASHINGTON — The initial prototype of SpaceX’s next-generation reusable launch vehicle will make its first, albeit low-altitude, test flight early next week, Elon Musk announced July 12.
In a series of late-night tweets, Musk, the founder and chief executive of SpaceX, said the “Starhopper” vehicle SpaceX is assembling at its test site near Brownsville, Texas, will make its first hop on July 16, now that the company has installed a Raptor engine in the vehicle.
~20m up & sideways for first flight. Mk1 Starship hopefully 20km up in a few months.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 12, 2019
Musk said that, on the upcoming test, the vehicle will go about 20 meters “up and sideways” before landing. The company plans, over time, to expand the flight envelope using that vehicle and another prototype. “Mk1 Starship hopefully 20km up in a few months,” Musk said.
The upcoming test will be the first free flight of Starhopper, although the vehicle performed several tests in April, including one where it briefly rose slightly off the ground but remained tethered to its launch pad. SpaceX expected to start free flying tests of the vehicle in June, but issues in the development of the testing ...