This week on Tuesday, Starhopper – the early test prototype of SpaceX’s Mars-colonizing Starship spacecraft, took its last flight into the South Texas skies, marking the fourth and final test jaunt. The flight lasted one minute and it took the prototype several hundred feet up and then flew it back down on a sideways translation to a landing pad a short distance away.
This recent flight has shown Starhopper’s strength and it will now be turned into a Raptor test stand, Elon Musk stated. The following test flights will reach Earth orbit and they will be performed with advanced prototypes Starship Mk1 and Mk2. The Mk1 is being built at the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica – the site that hosted the Starhopper raids in the sky, while the Mk2 is being built on the Florida Space Coast.
According to Musk, the goal is to improve the design of the 100-passenger Starship by stimulating intra company competition. Moreover, Mk1 and Mk2 will both have at least three Raptors, while the operational Starship will have six engines and the Super Heavy rocket that will be launching the Spacecraft from Earth will be powered by 35 Raptors.
Bottom line is that if everything goes according to plan, Starship and Super Heavy could be launching satellites as early as 2021 and start flying people there starting 2023.