On August 27, 2019 SpaceX made history with its second and final test flight of its craft ‘Spacehopper’. The craft, powered by a SpaceX Raptor engine, slowly climbed into the air and reached a hight of 150 meters before gracefully “hopping” to one side and then landing gently. The whole affair lasted a mere 57 seconds but represented a major leap forward to Elon Musk’s dream of landing on Mars.
Spacehopper made its first test flight last month, when it rose to a height of 20 meters and hovered momentarily before landing. Today’s test launch showed the technologic marvel of a craft maneuvering while hovering. Having proven its worth and showing a job well done, Spacehopper will now be retired from flight.
Moving forward SpaceX will now begin the final phases of building the craft ‘Starship’ and rocket ‘Super Heavy’. Both the craft and rocket will use 41 of the Raptor engines to enter the atmosphere. Together these examples of master engineering will make the trek through space to the red soil of Mars and beyond.
The goal of Starship and Super Heavy will be the ability to repeatedly launch and land crew (and eventually passengers) in different locations on Earth, as well as into space. Elon Musk has said that both vehicles (ship and rocket) will replace SpaceX’s existing fleet of Falcon rockets and Dragon spacecraft to carry satellites, cargo and humans into space.
SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk in 2002 and it has made great strides in the private space flight sector. Musk has faced some criticism for what some have called ‘Sci-fi and Steampunk’ designs for both Spacehopper and Starship, however it is well known that Mr. Musk has been a science fiction fan since his childhood. While his designs are distinctly ‘retro’, today’s launch proved that the design takes nothing away from the crafts ability to do its job.
While Spacehopper has taken its final flight, its work will continue as a stand to test Raptor engines on the ground. The Starship vehicle could take to the skies as early as next year.