Ever since SpaceX founder Elon Musk unveiled the bright and shiny
Starship prototype, space fans have been aching for it to take off in a blaze of glory. We’re almost there. The current Starship prototype, a hopper vehicle built for short test flights, is ready for hovering. Musk took to Twitter late Thursday to share the schedule. Raptor engine mounted on Starhopper. Aiming for hover test Tuesday, he tweeted using the nickname for the Starship hopper prototype. Tuesday also happens to mark the 50th anniversary of NASA’s launch of the Apollo 11, which carried humans to the surface of the moon in 1969. The hopper is under development at a SpaceX facility in Boca Chica Village, Texas. A previous test in April involved Starship trying out a tiny liftoff with a single Raptor engine providing the power. This time, Starhopper will aim to reach over 65 feet (20 meters) off the ground and move a little sideways, Musk tweeted. SpaceX is expected to live stream the event. If the hover test is successful, it will put SpaceX on the path to a much more ambitious goal of reaching 12 miles (20 kilometers) within a few months. Musk must be feeling confident about the testing.
He already announced plans for a presentation about the Starship in late July after the hover test, where we could get updates on SpaceX’s plans to fly around the moon with a group of artists in 2023. SpaceX fans have been keeping an eye on the work in Texas, capturing video of the Raptor engine’s arrival and its mounting to the Starhopper on Thursday.
Musk also tweeted the company has changed the rocket design quite a bit and that he will reveal more at the presentation. Starship is expected to eventually launch with multiple Raptors, but just one is enough for initial testing. SpaceX will aim to keep it above 50% throttle for this upcoming flight, according to Musk.