South Texas will witness the most ambitious test launch of SpaceX with a shiny Mars rocket prototype. Over the past 8 months, workers have been working upon a coastal launch site to prepare the stout and three-legged prototype for testing. It is made of stainless steel and have the shape of a badminton shuttlecock and is equipped with the next-gen Raptor rocket engines.
Elon Musk has named his company’s six-story tall rocket ship as “Starhopper” as it is made to hop to altitudes no higher than 3 miles but not to fly into space. The Starship is a 400-foot tall launch system for the powerful Starhopper. The company’s vision lies in taking dozens of people to Moon and Mars, deploying many satellites at a time and rocketing people around Earth for a few minutes. The Starhopper was fired up in April for the first time and the vehicle was lifted for no more than a few inches and subsequent tests lifted it further but not by much.
The engineers are hoping to take the vehicle up to 20 meters above its own height and Musk also added that the Starhopper will move sideways and land back on its launch pad. SpaceX spokesperson said that the hop and hover test is a series of tests designed to push the limits of the vehicle as quickly and as fast as possible within safety limits.
SpaceX will launch Star hopper from 14:00-20:00 Hours CT on 16th July. The schedule for launch can be quite dynamic and subject to change with development programs. The company will flow liquid oxygen through the engine to check for plumbing and hardware and a static fire test attempt on Monday if everything works out fine. The static fire test would add methane to flowing oxygen to ignite and burn the Raptor Engine for a matter of seconds to check its functioning. The launch site is located near Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. Spacehopper was confirmed by Musk in late 2018.
It marks the beginning of the Starship Program. It is building a Mark 1 Starship (Mk1) prototype which is designed to reach the orbit. Mk1 Starship is hopeful to reach 20km up in a few months but the issued government license allows experimental vehicles up to 5Km and lasting up to 6 minutes. It is working on regulatory approval for the prototypes. The company plans to launch prototypes into orbit by end of 2020 and a full-scale Starship to the moon by 2023 and a manned mission to Mars by 2026.