Elon Musk was fielding a number of questions from fans on Twitter on Sunday, and revealed that the current target for a full presentation of Starship, SpaceX’s next-generation reusable rocket and a key piece of the company’s plan to reach Mars, could come as soon as “late July.”
The SpaceX CEO also noted that the company’s most recent test of one of its Raptor rocket engines (officially test ‘SN6’) was “overall successful,” despite an abort, since the whole purpose of the test was to test the outward limits of the new engine’s tolerances on fueling mixture ratios.
SpaceX’s official Starship presentation should take place “a few weeks after Hopper hovers,” according to Musk, which refers to the test StarHopper (or ‘Hopper’ for short) quick duration flights, which won’t be fully launches but will instead engage the engines to help prove their viability for eventual launch. StarHopper completed a tethered hop test back in April, but the next step is to do this untethered, which is closer to reality than ever after last night’s test addressed a key issue with Raptor engine vibration at a specific operating frequency.
Once Hopper is through testing, presumably SpaceX will move on from using the scaled down prototype, which is only designed for testing in low altitudes, to a full-scale test rocket build, but we’ll hear the company’s plans in much more detail whenever this official Starship presentation really does take place.