SpaceX Tests ‘Starhopper’ Launch System Prototype

Jeff Brody

SpaceX conducted a free flight of its Starhopper prototype launch vehicle following a brief attempt a day earlier at the company’s south Texas-based facility, SpaceNews reported Friday.

The test took place Thursday, July 25, before midnight and saw Starhopper fire its Raptor engine to lift off and briefly remain airborne before landing back to the launch pad.

Starhopper is designed to operate in low-altitude flights and serves as the first prototype for the company’s reusable launcher called Starship.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he expects the Starship “Mark 1” prototypes, which are currently in production at SpaceX’s facilities in south Texas and Cocoa, Fla., to conduct orbital test flights in a few months.

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