SpaceX's 'Starhopper' Caught on Fire During Static Fire Test

Katie Ramirez
July 21, 2019

SpaceX completed the first "hop" of the prototype in April, using one of its next-generation "Raptor" rocket engines.

An artist rendition of Starship on a future flight in space. Starhopper is built to fly short, low altitude flights to prove the rocket's technology, and will add more Raptor engines over time.

These tests will gauge the engine's ability to send the BFR system (not to mention heavy payloads and crews) into space and then land again, thus fulfilling Musk's vision for an entirely reusable system.

Photograph showing the engine after the test, appearing unscathed. This most likely means that the site crews are taking this time to examine the engine and the test vehicle to determine the cause of the fireball.

Ironically enough, this incident serves to highlight the effectiveness of the Starship design.

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He tweeted that a "big advantage of being made of high strength stainless steel" was that the hopper was "not bothered by a little heat!" They are also expected to test in an environment without fire.

"This is gonna sound pretty insane, but I think we could land on the moon in less than two years", the SpaceX boss told Time.

Though NASA has already tapped Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner craft to begin shuttling USA astronauts to the International Space Station, Bridenstine told a Senate committee on Wednesday that NASA would not even have an estimate of the cost for its 2024 Artemis mission-ready until 2020.

"Sending crews to Mars in four years, I think that, that sounds pretty doable", Musk said. I would say four years at the outside. The extent of damage, if any, remains to be seen.

To that end, the California-based aerospace company conducted a static-fire test of Starhopper, a prototype of its Mars-colonizing Starship vehicle, late Tuesday (July 16) in South Texas ahead of a planned test flight of the craft. Will it be SpaceX, or NASA's Project Artemis?

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