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SpaceX is getting ready to let Starhopper off its leash.
Starhopper, a prototype for the company's future Mars-colonizing Starship vehicle, has conducted two brief test hops to date. Both occurred in early April at SpaceX's Boca Chica test site near Brownsville, Texas, and both employed a tether, which kept Starhopper very close to the ground (for safety's sake).
SpaceX - Step - Tether - Starhopper - Fly
SpaceX had apparently been holding off on taking the next big testing step — removing the tether and letting Starhopper fly freely — until it could fix an issue with the vehicle's powerful, next-generation Raptor engine. But that problem seems to be solved, company founder and CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter over the weekend.
In another tweet that afternoon, the billionaire entrepreneur implied that SpaceX aims to conduct the first untethered Starhopper flight in the next week or so.
Starship - Weeks - Hopper - Hovers - July
"Will do Starship presentation a few weeks after Hopper hovers, so prob late July. If that timing works, free LJ chips for all present!" Musk wrote, responding to a Twitter follower asking for a Starship update.
The current iteration of Starhopper features just a single Raptor engine. A future, higher-flying version of the test vehicle will have three Raptors, and the operational Starship will boast six.
Starship - Rocket
The 100-passenger Starship will launch atop a huge rocket called...
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