The company performed a 150-meter jump of its SN5 Starship prototype at 5:00 p.m. in its development facility in Boca Chica.
The almost nine-story test vehicle lit its single Raptor engine and slowly climbed into the air before gently returning to the ground and landing upright not far from where it started.
For a moment after the engine ignited, it looked like SN5 was having trouble getting into the air, but then it rose above its own smoke, hovered, and came in for a smooth landing. It traveled only a tiny fraction of the more than 35 million miles that Musk hopes the last spaceship will cross to bring people to Mars.
The long-awaited low-altitude test flight takes place after a handful of previous prototypes have failed without ever leaving the ground, mainly during pressure tests.
SN5 was designed to be able to perform an orbital flight, but before heading into space, it first had to complete this comparatively small jump.
The approximately 30 meter high vehicle is a stripped down version of the spaceship’s final spaceship without nose cones or fins. It’s 9 meters wide and basically consists of a fuel tank and a single Raptor motor with a weight that simulates a payload. The resulting shape is something like a thermos that many will recognize.
Musk tweeted this footage of the late Tuesday launch:
It was already a big August for SpaceX with the companyNASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley from the International Space Station splash around the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.
“Mars looks real,” Musk tweeted after the jump.
Crazy to think that interplanetary trips could start with this short and bizarre flight. I can’t wait to see the next big step on this long journey.