Aug 27, 2019

SpaceX's Starhopper completes final test

SpaceX’s Starhopper in flight. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX's Starhopper just made its highest leap yet, flying 150 meters into the air above the company's test facility in South Texas before coming in for a smooth landing.

Why it matters: Founder Elon Musk hopes that one day SpaceX will help bring about a future where people are living in a city on Mars, and Starhopper — a prototype of the company's Starship vehicle — is one of the first small steps toward that goal.

Details: This marked the final test for the Starhopper prototype, with two more advanced prototypes waiting in the wings.

  • Starship is designed to one day be able to transport up to 100 people at a time to Mars atop the company's Super Heavy rocket, which has not yet made its debut.
  • According to a June report in Space News, the first commercial Starship launches could happen as early as 2021.
  • Starship and Super Heavy are expected to launch a group of artists around the Moon in 2023 as part of the Dear Moon project.

Background: Starship and Super Heavy build on the hard-won reusability SpaceX has developed with its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

  • Super Heavy is expected to be reusable, with Starship able to take off and land on a variety of surfaces and in various conditions.

The bottom line: The Starhopper launch and landing was a pretty awe-inspiring thing to behold, even via webcast, but SpaceX still has a long way to go — and many more tests to get through — before it has a viable way to bring people to Mars.

Go deeper: Watch a replay of the Starhopper test.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.