SpaceX Starship Prototype Hops 492 Feet into the Sky, Passes Second Test

SpaceX managed to hop its huge Starship prototype for the second time.
Fabienne Lang

Thursday saw SpaceX completing a successful second hop of its massive Starship spacecraft prototype. 

It hopped 492 feet (150 meters) during a test at the company's Boca Chica site in Texas. 

This is the second time in the space of one month that SpaceX carries out a successful 'test hop' of the spacecraft.


Striking vision

Just like on August 4th, the first time SpaceX carried out a slightly different hop on its SN5 Starship prototype, the September 3rd hop offered quite a visual. 

This time, the huge stainless steel structure rose up from the massive plume of white clouds before slowly landing back down. Most of the 'hop' was perpendicular to the ground, however, upon landing, the SN6 prototype was a little askew.

The two recent flight tests are integral to the future of the Starship spacecraft as they highlight specific technical achievements. They tested out the big and complex plumbing systems of the Starship's fuel tanks and rocket engine. Moreover, they tested the thrust vector control system of the Raptor engine during the flight. 

These tests also help to show the basic control of the vehicle. More and higher hops are now needed. Per Ars Technica, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk mentioned several intermediate hops and test flights will take place before a 12.4 mile (20km) one.

We may never see SN5 or SN6 take to the skies again, as they are designed and built to be tested until failure. So we're likely to see SN8, which will be a full-size Starship prototype, complete with nose cone and wings.