SpaceX has performed a successful “hop” test of a rocket that could one day carry astronauts to the moon, Mars, and beyond.
The test of Starship SN5 — it’s largest Starship prototype to date — took place on the evening of Tuesday, August 5, at SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk retweeted a video of the event, which saw the 50-meter-long rocket, powered by a single Raptor engine, rise around 150 meters into the air before slowly returning to the ground and landing upright.
LAUNCH! Starship SN5 has launched on a 150 meter test hop at SpaceX Boca Chica.
Under the power of Raptor SN27, SN5 has conducted what looks like a successful flight!
Listen to the SpaceXers cheer!
Mary (@BocaChicaGal) filming history!
— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) August 4, 2020
The successful effort followed two recently aborted attempts, one on Monday and another earlier on Tuesday. It also came a week after the commercial space company conducted a successful static fire test of the Raptor engine at the same site.
When fully developed, the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (together referred to as Starship) will be a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying up to 100 people and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars, and possibly even further.
Starship will launch atop the massive first-stage Super Heavy rocket, which will be powered by 31 Raptor engines. Once in space, Starship will use six Raptor engines for travel between different destinations, with the ability to land back on Earth or another planet.
Last summer SpaceX performed two hops with a shorter, now-retired version of Starship, but this larger prototype, which is basically the rocket without its top, is the current focus of the SpaceX team.
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing as several of the SN vehicles have failed in testing, with both the SN1 and SN4 suffering catastrophic destruction. Tuesday’s successful effort, however, will be a big boost for the team.
Musk said recently that he was keen for SpaceX to ramp up work on the Starship project, telling his team to consider it the “top priority” moving forward.
If future testing proceeds without any major issues, Starship could make an uncrewed landing on the moon in the next couple of years, ahead of a more ambitious astronaut mission.
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