One minute read. Written by a grade 8 student
Starhopper is a rocket. Or rather, it’s actually a prototype of a rocket called Starship that’s being built by a company called SpaceX. If you haven’t heard of SpaceX, then you should see its website (www.spacex.com) and see how awesome it is. It was founded (that is, started) by Elon Musk (he was born in South Africa but now lives in the United States). He is a billionaire technology entrepreneur, investor, and engineer. He is known for many things and has founded lots of companies, but recently he is known for his mission to make Mars (yes, the planet Mars) liveable for humans. It’s an extremely ambitious plan, but he is quite focused on it. He plans to send people there by 2022 (he also says he’ll send people to the moon by 2023). He thinks we need to have a back-up plan and should think about living on Mars (since we’ve, sort of, ruined the earth).
There are many challenges, of course, in this plan. Apart from the whole, getting to Mars thing, there’s also the question about water – Mars has no known water till now.
So anyway, Starhopper is the rocket that SpaceX is testing as a prototype for the main one, which is supposed to carry humans to Mars and the moon, and that’s called Starship. You may wonder why it is so special (as missions to Mars have been sent before). There’s one big difference – rockets till now have been single-use – meaning, that when they land back into earth they get destroyed and cannot be used again (so the millions spent on it are gone). Starhopper is trying to change that – it is meant to land back without burning up (it’ll hop up and then back into landing position, hence the name ”hopper”). This one will fly a little and then land back.
Now a bit about going to space. As you can imagine, it is not an easy task! It means leaving our atmosphere. And gravity makes that difficult. So, speed matters. You need to orbit the earth at a speed which cancels out the attraction of gravity – and the speed for that is 28,000km/hour. So, if the rockets go at such speed, how would they ever land on earth without blowing up? The thing to then figure out is how to land at such a speed. That’s what is different about the Starhopper – it’s a test rocket for the next one which will land back and not destruct.
The Starhopper is 40 feet tall and will be tested for in Boca Chica in the state of Texas in the United States. It will be tested anytime now. Tune into SpaceX to know more!
Words To Know
Prototype: a first or preliminary version of a device or vehicle from which other forms are developed.