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SpaceX 'Starhopper' rocket test ends in spectacular flames

Rocket was supposed to hop off the ground – but stayed put, and became engulfed by fire

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 25 July 2019 11:21 BST
SpaceX Starhopper rocket test ends in flames

SpaceX's Starhopper – a prototype of the rocket it hopes will one day fly around the solar system – had a failed launch test that ended with it being surrounded by flames.

The company was aiming to try the first "untethered" test of the rocket, which was intended to allow it to jump up into the air and then come back down again, without the restraining ties that have held it down in previous attempts.

But as the test began, the rocket failed to launch and it stayed on the ground as flames poured out of its rocket. Another flame flew out of the top of the rocket, as can be seen on the video.

The rocket itself appeared to survive without problems, but it is just the latest in a run of issues. It came a week after the Starhopper craft flew a fireball out of its bottom during another test.

It was the first time that SpaceX has allowed one of the tests to be streamed. Previous attempts have happened in private – with spectacular descriptions of the launches leaking out after.

“It appears as though we have had an abort on today’s test. As you can see there, the vehicle did not lift off today,” SpaceX engineer Kate Tice said on a live stream provided by the company. “As I mentioned before, this is a development program, today was a test flight designed to test the boundaries of the vehicle.”

While the Starhopper is just a test vehicle, SpaceX hopes that it will one day turn into a rocket known as Starship. It aims to use that one day to carry people to Mars, with the help of a huge array of rocket engines.

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