This Day In Space (August 27, 2019): SpaceX takes its flying water tower aka Starhopper to 150 meters

space starhopper 150 meter flight

In the last two years, we have seen SpaceX go from building circular rings in a dirt patch to having a full rocket factory in South Texas. On this day 2 years ago their first creation, Starhopper, makes its famed 150-meter flight.

Starhopper’s final flight to 150 meters

Built in a field just a few miles from Boca Chica Beach. The first real-world creation of SpaceX’s Starship rocket didn’t even come close to looking like what we have now. What many believed to be just a water tower was actually the first testbed for SpaceX’s new methane-fed Raptor engines and the beginning of flight operations in the area.

Starhopper served to get the first flight data of the brand new Raptor engine which uses the never before developed full flow staged combustion cycle. The vehicle handled static fire testings, a short 18-meter hop while tethered to the ground, and finally Starhopper performed a full 150-meter untethered flight.

The short flight took place long before 24/7 robotic cameras surrounded SpaceX’s operations. Most of those that came to view the flight, perched themselves on rooftops of those that lived in Boca Chica Village, of which few residents remain.

Current status of SpaceX’s Starship facility

Long after its days of flying have ended, Starhopper remains at SpaceX’s launch site. Now being used to hold radar equipment, lights, speakers, and cameras to continue supporting Starship operations. It stands guard between the suborbital test stands and the newly built orbital launch site.

Starbase as it’s now called spans a much larger swath of land it use to back in 2019. Boasting large tents used to build full-size Starship and Superheavy vehicles. Soon a second high bay will be constructed further growing the scale of how much work will be done at was once a small beach town.

SpaceX plans to launch hundreds of Starship vehicles a year from Starbase and seabase platforms named Phobos and Deimos in the coming years.

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