Elon Musk’s SpaceX has pulled off a successful test flight of the Starhopper Mars rocket prototype which saw it soar higher than ever before.
But the incredible feat of human ingenuity also caused disruption for people living nearby, with residents living up to ten miles away reporting disturbances to their day-to-day lives.
Slowly rose to a height of 152 metres above its launch pad in Brownsville, Texas, and propelled itself 198 metres eastward onto an adjacent landing platform, completing a successful low-altitude test of SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engine.
Elon wants humanity to become an ‘interplanetary species’ and The Raptor engine is designed to power the early stages of his epic mission.
It ‘s a reusable two-stage booster taller than the Statue of Liberty and will be fitted to Starship – a space voyaging pioneer craft destined to touch down on Mars.
‘Congrats SpaceX team!’ Elon wrote.
‘One day Starship will land on the rusty sands of Mars.’
About eight hours later, he then realised it resembled ‘R2D2’s Dad’ and told the world about this revelation in a tweet.
The prototype ‘hopper’ vehicle resembles a chrome water tower with four landing legs and was originally due to take off on Monday.
But wiring issue with one of the Raptor engines halted the countdown less than a second before ignition, Musk.
Elon Musk described the mistake as ‘rather embarrassing’ in a conversation on Twitter.
About a dozen people living in the adjacent village of Boca Chica, just over a mile from the test site, had been urged in advance by local authorities to vacate their homes as a precaution at the sound of police sirens that blared minutes before launch.
‘It lmost looked like a cartoon or something,’ nearby resident Cheryl Stevens said just after Starhopper’ flight. ‘
After all the buildup, it was kind of nice to actually see it happen.’
The notices were circulated by sheriff’s deputies three days in advance and warned of a possible ‘overpressure event’ that could shatter windows and endanger anyone who did not evacuate their home.
Maria Pointer, another resident, set up cameras and invited photographers to her home. She said excitement surrounding the launch reminded her of ‘feeling like you’re going on a Ferris wheel.’
Other residents bemoaned SpaceX’s presence on the Texas coast and said they were frustrated with road closures and confusing public notices.
‘It’s kind of like a double-edged sword,’ said resident Terry Heaton, adding that access to the nearby beach was blocked off every time SpaceX attempted an engine test.
The next step for Raptor will be to carry out additional ground-based firings of the engine bolted to a stationary test stand, Musk said.
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