This week SpaceX released footage of its second test-flight with “Starhopper”, their go-to vehicle for future Mars exploration. The “little” rocket suffered a rough start as heavy winds already toppled it over once, fire during pre-flight testing made SpaceX abort its first flight attempt. Since then, after the first small hop, the almost 20m tall spaceship completed its second test-flight during which it flew to a height of approximately 150 meters. SpaceX’s unique vehicle staggers audiences not because of its strange and bulgy looks but because of the unprecedented technological features it brings forth.
The Starhopper, unlike other SpaceX rockets and vehicles so-far, has been outfitted with the brand new “Raptor” engine. This liquid methane fueled, full flow staged combustion engine is not only very efficient but most importantly its fuel, liquid methane, is manufacturable on Mars. The red planet has a CO2 rich atmosphere which in combination with sub-surface water & water retrieved from polar ice can be made into methane fuel! In terms of
Starhopper, for now, is the only vehicle to have been equipped with these Raptor engines but they are scheduled to be used in many other SpaceX endeavours. Next in line on the space conquering calendar is test flights for Starhopper’s bigger brothers Mk1 and Mk2. According to Musk, these orbital rockets are to be equipped with a minimum of 3 raptor engines. The Mk prototypes will subsequently lead us to the final goal, the production of Starship, Musk’s interplanetary people carrier. All together we can cheer for this successful test-flight as it brings us one step closer to the red planet!
Starhopper’s second test-flight compared to its first flight shows real potential as within 57 seconds it lifted itself up to 150 meters and safely landed on its feet in a cloud of dust. The first hop was not the visual spectacle the people had anticipated to see as the total undertaking happened within one gigantic cloud of dust and smoke, the second flight is a marvel to watch though.
After witnessing this beauty of a