BROWNSVILLE, RGV – On the evening of July 24, 2019, thousands of space flight enthusiasts watched various live streams of the attempted test hop of the SpaceX Starhopper.
This was to be an untethered flight to 20 meters (approx. 66 feet) and the Starhopper was supposed to return to the pad using onboard navigation.
After a long wait the countdown began. Enthusiasm built as the official live stream on the SpaceX YouTube channel counted down to a hold at T-00:02:00. This was a built in hold designed to allow the onsite personnel to clear out.
After clearing the launch zone the countdown resumed. The tension built as viewers wondered what the outcome would be. No further holds occurred and at T-0:02 the raptor engine lit and burned for just a few seconds before shutting down.
The test had been aborted at T00+:03. As the engine shut down a flame was seen coming from the top edge of the spacecraft. It only burned for a few seconds before self-extinguishing. SpaceX did not elaborate as to what had occurred.
The remaining shutdown was uneventful. The only commentary from SpaceX was that the team is evaluating the data and trying to determine when another attempt can take place.