August 28, 2019 - Following a scrubbed launch attempt on August 26th, shortly after 5pm CST on Tuesday, August 27th, Space X successfully launched and landed their StarHopper prototype launch vehicle. StarHopper, which began development in November of 2018, preformed a test flight which saw the vehicle rise 150 meters in altitude, travel 20 meters due south above the Landing Zone, then descend softly on the ground at Space X's Test Facility in Boca Chica, Texas. This highly anticipated test flight was meant to demonstrate the thrust and maneuvering capabilities of the Methane powered rocket engine, the Raptor. The Raptor, designed and produced by Space X, will be the work horse engine for both the upcoming Super Heavy booster, and StarShip spacecraft to be flown by Space X. Following yesterdays 150 meter hop, the StarHopper will be converted into a vertical test stand for the Raptor engine, and will no longer preform flight tests.
So what's next in development of the StarShip rocket, which the aerospace company says will be the first to land humans on Mars? According to Space X CEO, Elon Musk, we could start seeing the first orbital prototypes of these rockets being flown as soon as " 2 to 3 months". These orbital successors to the StarHopper, dubbed StarShip Mk 1, are currently being manufactured both at Space X's facility in Boca Chica, Texas, and down the road from their Florida Launch site in Cocoa, Florida. These vehicles, both identical in design, will be the final step in testing the flight hardware for the StarShip before the final design iteration, and its Super Heavy launch vehicle go online as early 2021.
Video: SpaceX - 150 Meter Starhopper Test https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYb3bfA6_sQ