SpaceX hopes to launch its Starhopper test vehicle skyward on its first flights soon. The short tests that will take place out of SpaceX & # 39; s launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, will send the rocket just under 1,640 feet (500 meters) high for its low altitude and up to 16,400 feet (5,000 meters) aircraft high for its high altitude flights, according to a modified application filed with the Federal Communications Commission. The heights match those given by the company in a similar filing last year.
Starhopper is a very basic version of Starship, the massive passenger rocket that SpaceX wants to build to send people to the Moon and Mars. To prepare for the first Starships flight to space, SpaceX has been tinkering with the test star in Boca Chica. The vehicle has a similar structure to the final rocket, although it is slightly smaller in size. Starhopper's main task is to test the new, powerful Raptor engines, SpaceX has developed for the future deep-space rocket.
SpaceX fired a Raptor engine at the bottom of Starhopper for the first time in April. It only lifted a few inches since the vehicle was tied to the ground. But now, SpaceX plans to perform the so-called "hop" tests with the vehicle (hence the nickname Starhopper), which sends the rocket to a low altitude. The company will then try to touch Starhopper on the ground with the vehicle's three landing legs. The idea is to test the landing ability that the rocket needs to touch the earth and other worlds. SpaceX performed similar tests with a vehicle known as Grasshopper back in 201
Starhopper's tethered tests had only one Raptor engine attached, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk showed that in the end, three engines would be added to the vehicle for higher flights. Currently, images of the vehicle show that Starhopper in Boca Chica does not have any engines attached . It will change as the company drives up to the initial flights.
Cameron County, where Boca Chica is located, issued road shutters around the launch site on May 28, suggesting that planes could take place as soon as a week from now. But SpaceX's first round of tests took place many weeks after the first round of road closures were issued, so it is possible that the first jumps may still be a few weeks out.