SpaceX aborts first short Starship prototype rocket hop flight


SpaceX tests its Starship prototype rocket in Texas, attempting its first "hop" of 65 feet.

SpaceX | gif by @thesheetztweetz

Seconds after the engine fired up, SpaceX stopped its first attempt to fly its prototype "Starship" rocket more than a few feet off the ground at the company's facility in Boca Chica Beach, Texas on Wednesday.

The prototype rocket did not lift off from the ground, as SpaceX engineer Kate Tice noted while hosting a surprise livestream of the test. The rocket engine started but the prototype was not near the top of the rocket. SpaceX was intending to "hop" the vehicle in a short flight of about 65 feet in the air.

"It appears as though we have had an abort on today's test. As you can see there, the vehicle did not lift off today," Tice said. "As I mentioned before, this is a development program, the boundaries of the vehicle."

Known as "Starhopper," the rocket prototype is the early version of the company's Starship rocket. Starship, with an enormous booster called "Super Heavy," Elon Musk's dream of transporting up to 100 people to destinations including the moon and Mars.

"Starship is a fully reusable system that is designed to provide cost effective and reliable launch services to our customers and serve as an interplanetary launch system," Tice said.

SpaceX released official footage of Starship's development.

"This specific test is one of a series of tests, designed to push the vehicle as quickly as possible, to learn all that fast, to be safe and fast," Tice said. She noted that Starhopper has passed several testing milestones already, in April.

Despite a fireball erupting after an engine test last week, Tice said "everything looked good" after that test, "which brings us to our test hop today."

The company is steadily raising funding for both Starship and its internet satellite network, called Starlink. So far this year, SpaceX has sought more than $ 1.3 billion across three funding rounds, CNBC reported in June. With over $ 1 billion already raised, SpaceX's valuation has risen more than $ 33.3 billion.



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