Skip to main content

Watch SpaceX’s larger Starship prototype take its first ‘hop’

SpaceX has performed a successful “hop” test of a rocket that could one day carry astronauts to the moon, Mars, and beyond.

The test of Starship SN5 — it’s largest Starship prototype to date — took place on the evening of Tuesday, August 5, at SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk retweeted a video of the event, which saw the 50-meter-long rocket, powered by a single Raptor engine, rise around 150 meters into the air before slowly returning to the ground and landing upright.

LAUNCH! Starship SN5 has launched on a 150 meter test hop at SpaceX Boca Chica.

Under the power of Raptor SN27, SN5 has conducted what looks like a successful flight!

Listen to the SpaceXers cheer!

Mary (@BocaChicaGal) filming history!


— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) August 4, 2020

The successful effort followed two recently aborted attempts, one on Monday and another earlier on Tuesday. It also came a week after the commercial space company conducted a successful static fire test of the Raptor engine at the same site.

When fully developed, the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (together referred to as Starship) will be a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying up to 100 people and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars, and possibly even further.

Starship will launch atop the massive first-stage Super Heavy rocket, which will be powered by 31 Raptor engines. Once in space, Starship will use six Raptor engines for travel between different destinations, with the ability to land back on Earth or another planet.

Last summer SpaceX performed two hops with a shorter, now-retired version of Starship, but this larger prototype, which is basically the rocket without its top, is the current focus of the SpaceX team.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing as several of the SN vehicles have failed in testing, with both the SN1 and SN4 suffering catastrophic destruction. Tuesday’s successful effort, however, will be a big boost for the team.

Musk said recently that he was keen for SpaceX to ramp up work on the Starship project, telling his team to consider it the “top priority” moving forward.

If future testing proceeds without any major issues, Starship could make an uncrewed landing on the moon in the next couple of years, ahead of a more ambitious astronaut mission.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
SpaceX Starship makes it off the pad, but is lost during second test flight
Starship on the launch pad ahead of the second orbital flight test on November 11, 2023.

SpaceX has performed a second integrated test flight of its Starship, the world's most powerful rocket. The Starship made it off the launchpad and survived through stage separation, but communication with the spacecraft was lost near the end of its engine burn.

The rocket made it further in this test than it did in its previous test flight in April this year when it took off from the pad, but exploded before stage separation.

Read more
SpaceX needs good weather for Starship launch. Here’s how it’s looking
SpaceX's Starship on the launchpad.

SpaceX is making final preparations to send the Starship to orbit on in what will be only the second test flight of the 400-foot-tall rocket.

The company had originally hoped to launch on Friday but has had to carry out some extra work that's caused a 24-hour delay.

Read more
SpaceX given green light to send mighty Starship rocket skyward
A Super Heavy booster on the launchpad at SpaceX's site in Texas.

A Super Heavy booster on the launchpad at SpaceX's site in Texas. SpaceX / SpaceX

SpaceX has been given the green light to send its Super Heavy rocket and Starship spacecraft skyward in what will be only the second test launch of the world's most powerful spaceflight system.

Read more