SpaceX Starhopper prototype seems to be ready to do its first untethered hop soon, announced the company’s CEO and founder Elon Musk through Twitter over the weekend.
Starhopper, which is a prototype rocket for the space company’s massive Starship vehicle which one day would send people to Mars and beyond, has finished 2 short test jumps in April at SpaceX’s launch site in Boca Chica, Texas. Both of these test flights hired a tether that held the rocket extremely close to the floor.
However, SpaceX apparently had avoided taking the next huge test step, i.e. abolishing the seal and letting Starhopper fly freely until the rocket’s Raptor vibration issue was solved. But that issue appears to have finally been resolved as Musk suggested via another tweet post that the company is now aiming to conduct first untethered Starhopper flight in the coming days. As per Musk, SpaceX plans to schedule a Starship presentation after the Starhopper hovers sometime in late July.
Notably, the first real flights of Starhopper would mark a key milestone for the space company as well as the Starship mission. However, there are many things which SpaceX still needs to work on before its spacecraft is ready for commercial flights sometime around 2021, but any significant setback could push this timeline ahead.