Elon Musk: SpaceX Starhopper lifts off (a little bit)

The Raptor engine undergoing test-firings at SpaceX’s Rocket Development and Test Facility near McGregor Texas. Credit SpaceX

On Wednesday, April 3, CEO Elon Musk tweeted about the short rocket test firing at SpaceX's newest launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.

These flights will enable the company to test out its new powerful Raptor engine. In January, Musk revealed the first photo of the Starship prototype, which looked like a retro-inspired spaceship and a shiny silver bullet.

SpaceX has started initial tethered tests of the first prototype of its next generation Starship launch vehicle at its South Texas test site.

The Raptor engine has been tested by itself back in February and now, the Starhopper only features one, which will not take the spacecraft very high.

Musk's declaration that Starhopper hit the end of its tether indicates the second hop was likely higher than the first.

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Follow Elon Musk's Twitter and SpaceX's Twitter for more updates on the Starhopper Starship prototype.

SpaceX is performing tests in order to reach a point when its massive Super Heavy booster will be capable of taking the Starship into space and landing it back on Earth, much like the Falcon 9 rocket.

Space aficionados are on the ground in Boca Chica watching the test hops from afar and discussing them on the NASASpaceFlight.com forum. A suborbital hop would require all three engines. The company originally built it with a nose cone, making it 128 feet or 39 meters long.

The SpaceX Starhopper is a suborbital prototype created to test the concepts and technologies necessary to construct its new 100-person spacecraft, called Starship, and its massive booster, the Super Heavy. Musk then said that the nosecone was not really necessary for further more tests of the prototype. It will be used to conduct more hover flights in future before launching the Starship into deep space.

The engine that will go into the ship, the Raptor, is homegrown by SpaceX.

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