SpaceX Starhopper Flies!

It’ll never fly again, but it didn’t explode.

The SpaceX Starship test article did a pad hop to test/demonstrate the gimbal controls on the methane burning Raptor Engine late this afternoon. We had to wait for it a bit, due to extra precautions by the FAA and a gimpy new igniter, but the team came through. This successful test proves out the programming and controls to help ensure that one of the full suborbital prototypes, MK1 and MK2, doesn’t make a smoking hole in the ground.

This rocket will now become a Raptor engine test stand and the torch will pass to the real McCoy prototypes to ready the design, manufacturing process, and support systems for human flights to the Moon.

Update: I posted this a little quick yesterday, August 7th, 2019, and had to do a little bit of minor editing on it this morning. I also replaced the screen shot of the flight from Cloud Licker’s YouTube feed (shown below with credit) for the featured image of this article with one directly from SpaceX’s video of the event which has the cold gas thrusters adjusting Starhopper’s attitude (I guess it needed an attitude adjustment! Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Photo credit–CloudLicker (

I’ll also add this comment. They really need to make that new igniter more robust or back it up with the Merlin engine igniter. These Raptors HAVE to relight reliably or else these expensive spacecraft could be either lost in orbit or crash on landing attempts. I like the new igniter and their reasons for using it, but it seems to me like more testing and development is in order.

Most future blog entries will be short and simple like this for a while because I’m focusing my writing time on the second Into the Dark novel right now. Most full-length novels are between 70,000 and 90,000 words and that takes lots of time to write and polish. My goal is to finish it by the end of the year and release it in the spring. There is also a second installment to the Hellas Station series of short stories in the works, so stay tuned!


~ by Bill Housley on August 27, 2019.

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