After various failed attempts with their vehicles including the tragic Crew Dragon explosion, the resilient team at SpaceX decided to reuse the spacecraft last week and still failed. And if you think that discouraged, you are mistaken as they still did two other tests this week and finally, they broke through.
The Dragon spacecraft is making a third trip to the ISS, while its Starship rocket dubbed Starhopper test vehicle was planned to fire up its Raptor engine, rise to an altitude of about 60 feet, move sideways a few yards, and land. When launch time came, smoke obscured any view of the rocket. But when the smoke cleared, Starhopper was back on the ground, not far from where it had started.
And as expected, Elon Musk jokingly confirmed the successful test on Twitter, writing, “Water towers *can* fly haha!!,” then, more seriously, confirmed that a 200m test is scheduled to occur “in a week or two.” No close-up video of the test has been released yet but the South Padre Isle Livestream showcases the jump from a far distance. Musk himself, later on, tweeted out a video of the engine cam that was taken during the test even though it doesn’t give much.
Engine cam pic.twitter.com/3cWHU50353
— e^👁🥧 (@elonmusk) July 26, 2019
“This particular hop is one in a series of tests designed to push the limits of the vehicle as quickly as possible to learn all we can, as fast as we safely can,” a SpaceX spokesperson said. It’s the first step toward test flights in the upper atmosphere, which Elon Musk said would “hopefully” occur in the next few months.