Can you even call it making history if you keep doing it all the time? SpaceX has managed to complete a second ‘hop’ test of its Starship prototype, making the spacecraft jump 150m in the air in an attempt to gather data and improve the design of the vehicle. This coming just a month after the company completed its first successful test, which took 3 attempts, makes the feat even more impressive.
SpaceX is clearly one to learn from its mistakes, which is exactly what it did with the new SN6 Starship prototype. The previous SN5 had to stage multiple attempts, finally managing to get in the air at its 3rd trial. However, the new, improved version of the spacecraft managed to replicate the success of its predecessor fairly easily, which means that the company is probably ready to take the development cycle to the next step.
The test, which took place from the Boca Chica, Texas development site, will pave the way for the final version of the spacecraft, equipped with 6 raptor engines (as opposed to a single one on these prototypes). The final version will also be able to land and then, take off from the surface of astronomical bodies, much like an Uber to the moon.
Today’s test makes SN6 the second ‘complete’ (except the nose cone and landing legs) Starship prototype to take off from the surface of the Earth. The feat has been achieved during two parts of the development cycle-the SN5 and the Starhopper. The latter paved the way for the tests we see today, by completing a hop test of the lower half of the prototype back in August 2019.
The company hopes to make a much larger jump later this year, where it will take the starship to sub-orbital heights-as high as commercial airplanes. Moreover, the first orbital flight is still in the cards, but probably won’t happen till early next year.