SpaceX’s Starhopper Prototype Is Ready for Its Biggest Hop Test

SpaceX’s silver Starhopper prototype could complete its biggest hop test this weekend, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Starhopper, which is an early prototype for SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft, has completed a couple of tests so far. According to Musk, the Starhopper’s next challenge will be to fly roughly 650 feet off the ground. Musk recently tweeted that the prototype’s next major hop could take place on Aug. 16, Aug. 17, or Aug. 18, as long as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gives SpaceX permission to conduct the test flight.

On July 25, SpaceX’s Starhopper prototype completed its first untethered hop test at SpaceX’s Texas-based facility. At the site, the Starhopper fired up its single Raptor engine and conducted a straight hop 65 feet up and down without any issues, Space.com reported.

SpaceX is also working on two orbital Starship prototypes, Mk1, which is being built at SpaceX’s Texas-based facility, and Mk2, which is being constructed in Florida. On Thursday, Musk tweeted an update on Mk1’s progress, which showed four photos of the nine-meter dome rotation that’s being prepared to be placed on the stainless steel frame of the Starship prototype vehicle. Mk1 also featured a “windbreak,” which is used to protect the prototype from Texas winds.

Mk1 and Mk2 will have a different design and layout from the Starhopper. Both orbital prototypes will have at least three Raptor engines that are made to reach orbit, unlike the Starhopper, which only has one Raptor engine.

Following testing, SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy rocket could be ready for a flight in 2021, according to SpaceX officials. While the first few missions are expected to launch commercial communications satellites, passenger flights could soon follow after that.

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