SpaceX has completed a second low altitude test flight of its "Starhopper" demonstration prototype, which is used to test technologies used to build the full-scale next generation SpaceX "Starship" spacecraft. This test meant "jumping" Starhopper (hence the name, get it?) To a height of about 150 feet (or just under 500 feet), the highest it has flown so far, at a SpaceX testing facility in Texas. After the jump, which lasted for about 50 seconds (the GIF above is run up 2X), it successfully navigated to a target landing site a short distance away.
This is the second unbound test ride for Starhopper, and is intended to be the latest, while SpaceX is moving forward with the construction of its Starship Mk I and Mk II prototypes, which are currently taking place and at locations in Florida and Texas. Today's trial was the second trial after a scheduled test was canceled at the last second, with SpaceX reset to ensure everything was in place for this longer bumblebee, which lasted less than a minute.
In July, SpaceX ran its first untethered hop, designed to test the operation of the SpaceX Raptor engine developer for Starship, along with other subsystems for use in the Starship production. It flew only for about 22 seconds, reaching a height of only 20 meters (just over 65 feet).
Construction is currently underway at SpaceX's Texas and Florida facilities on its full-scale Starship prototypes, which SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is ambitious to begin his own flight test later this year, in as little as a few months. The larger prototypes, which should be closer to what is actually launched, will test several Raptor engines that work together and aim to fly to greater heights, another important step when the company is working toward a true first orbital test flight.
Ultimate, SpaceX hopes to replace both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy completely with different configurations of Starship, which will help the company with cost efficiency thanks to its fully reusable nature and streamline all of its rocket construction around one type of vehicle.