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    SpaceX’s Starhopper Takes Leap For The First Time

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    Elon Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, on Thursday launched the first flight of its Starhopper rocket, a prototype of its next-generation launch system, intended to be used to carry passenger flights to the moon and Mars within the next half-decade.

    The vehicle was launched from SpaceX’s test facility near Brownsville, Texas. Starhopper traveled about 65 feet in the air for around 20 seconds before landing back on its launch pad.

    ​​The vehicle, which is more than 60 feet tall and about 30 feet wide, is a prototype for Starship, a larger vehicle that is expected to make its first cargo flights by 2022 before making passenger flights to the moon in 2023 and to the Red Planet in 2024.

    ​In a tweet after the Thursday flight, Musk announced that the test was “successful,” and posted videos of the flight. Musk also tweeted that a “200m [meter] hop in a week or two” is expected, suggesting that another test launch will take place in the near future.

    Apart from Musk’s tweets, SpaceX has not yet released any more information on the vehicle’s performance. 

    Thursday’s flight comes one day after an intended test Wednesday night failed due to an engine ignition issue. In a tweet, Musk explained that the methane and liquid oxygen propellants in the Starhopper’s Raptor engine were colder than anticipated, resulting in the chamber pressure being too high to launch. Raptor is a methane-fueled rocket engine developed by SpaceX.

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