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Construction of SpaceX’s Starhopper is underway. Image via Twitter: @SpacePadreIsle

SpaceX’s Starhopper almost ready for its first flight [photos]

Elon Musk confirmed that SpaceX is building a fleet of Starship rockets and the second prototype of Starhopper is nearing completion.

elon musk mars
Construction of SpaceX’s Starhopper is underway. Image via Twitter: @SpacePadreIsle

Elon Musk’s SpaceX will be looking to testing their Starhopper test vehicle soon. The Starhopper test vehicle will be launched out of the SpaceX launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.

It’s expected that the Starhopper will launch to 500m for its low altitude flights and 5 000m for its high altitude flights. The Starhopper is essentially a bare-bones version of Starship.

SpaceX Starhopper elon musck
Caption: “Looks like they might be setting up stands to put the final product on?” / Image via Twitter: @EmreKelly

Starship is the massive passenger rocket that SpaceX is planning to use to send people to the moon and mars. The Starhopper is smaller than Starship but has similar structures to the Starship.

Starhopper will be used to test a number of design elements for the Starship, but the primary purpose of the testing will be to test the powerful Raptor engines that have been created for the deep-space rocket.

SpaceX Starhopper elon musck
Caption: “Really nice views of SpaceX’s Starship / Starhopper in Cocoa.” / Image via Twitter: @EmreKelly

SpaceX performed its first test of the Raptor engine in April when it attached it to the Starhopper and lifted the tethered craft a few inches. Now SpaceX plans to conduct a series of “hop” tests.

The Starhopper will be sent to a low altitude above the earth and then brought back down to earth where it will attempt to land using its three landing legs.

spacex starhopper elon musk
Caption: “It was a nice morning for a leisurely flight around Cocoa, Florida and a quick peek at the #Starhopper being built by SpaceX.That shadowy block on the horizon in the first photo is NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building.” Image via Twitter: @Mike_Seeley

This is similar to a series of tests that were performed using the Grasshopper test craft in 2012 and 2013. At the time the company was testing the landing technique that their Falcon 9 currently employs.

Last month’s tethered tests saw the Starhopper lift-off with only one raptor engine attached, but Elon Musk has confirmed that eventually, Starhopper will subsequently have three engines attached for high altitude flights.

There hasn’t been any confirmation yet about when the Starhopper testing will commence, but Cameron County has issued a notice of road closures around the launch site for 28 May.

That may mean a Starhopper could be in the air in as little as a week. However, it’s more likely that there’ll still be another few weeks of waiting ahead of us.

With the first round of tests, there were a few weeks before the first road closure notice and the ultimate test so we could still be two or three weeks away from the start of the tests.

Also read – SpaceX to launch 60 ‘Starlink’ Internet satellites on 24 May