The space company SpaceX tested the engines of its prototype Starship vehicle on Wednesday in Boca Chica, Texas, installing tests Border reported in a "static fire" configuration that saw the spacecraft tied to the ground.
SpaceX calls the prototype vehicle in question "Starhopper" and intends to test various technologies that the company plans to use in a future theoretical spacecraft called Starship, which will travel into space (according to CEO Elon Musk, Moon and Mars , specifically).
While the star ship will carry 100 people and will require the use of a first-stage "Super Heavy" rocket, the Starhopper is a smaller version for atmospheric tests of Raptor engines, which run on liquid methane and liquid oxygen, and will fly no more than 5,000 meters in the air, according to documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission.
The test occurred around 8:56 pm ET, according to Space.com, with Musk later tweeting that the test was successful.
Photos this morning at SpaceX Boca Chica pic.twitter.com/7vHbjWw1jE
– SPADRE (@SpacePadreIsle) March 18, 2019
HOT FIRE!!! Raptor comes to life at the base of Starhopper while the vehicle makes a leap tied at the launching facility Boca Chica of SpaceX. This is the first shot of a rocket engine at the launch site. #SpaceX #Starship @elonmusk
– Michael Baylor (@nextspaceflight) April 4, 2019
Based on Musk's previous comments, Space.com wrote, the test "probably used an engine and did not get too loud." The Starhopper is made of stainless steel and is approximately 18.29m high – originally more than twice that size, but a barrel mounted on the ship exploded and suffered extreme damage in January 2019 amidst strong winds.
Musk later said that the nosecone was unnecessary for continuous prototype tests.
SpaceX distributed leaflets to locations prior to the test, advising that special control points would be configured during the test to maintain a perimeter of safety.
According Business InsiderSome residents of the village of Boca Chica complained about the closing of the roads, specifically the "frequency, extended hours and reinforcement of security to keep out the curious."
While SpaceX originally said it would use the test site once a month, one site told the site that Highway 4 was closed every day for the past week; each closure supposedly lasts about eight hours.
According BorderSpaceX plans to build Starship and Super Heavy at the Boca Chica and Cape Canaveral facilities, and Musk said it is working on regulatory approval for eventual launches.
He released a 2020 date for the first spacecraft test flight, and although this schedule is unrealistic, he has already sold a seat in the Space Shuttle to Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.
This is not the only recent landmark that SpaceX has recently defined: in March 2019, its Crew Dragon capsule successfully completed a demonstration for the NASA Commercial Crew Program, spending several days in space and automatically engaging the International Space Station.