SpaceX’s Starhopper launch vehicle prototype completed what is likely to be its last test flight on Tuesday evening. The hover test lasted about a minute and the vehicle reached an altitude of approximately 150 meters (about 500 feet) before touching down on its landing pad. The test, which took place at SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, was originally scheduled for Monday but was delayed shortly before launch due to a problem with the torch igniters on its single Raptor engine.
It has been reported that local authorities delivered notices to residents in a nearby neighborhood asking them to leave the area or stand outside during testing due to the risk of building damage were an “overpressure event” to occur. The Starhopper’s first test flight, which only went up to about 20 meters (65 feet), took place on July 25 and started a brush fire. Before the FAA signed off on the permit for the second test, the amount of liability insurance SpaceX was required to carry for the event was increased from $3,000,000 to $100,000,000.
The 60-foot-tall Starhopper was primarily intended to be a test bed for the company’s Raptor engine, which it plans to use on the larger Starship launch vehicle. With the Starhopper flight tests complete, SpaceX is looking to move on to testing two Starship prototypes, which are currently in production.