SpaceX: Starhopper fine after fireball

BROWNSVILLE — The fireball that enveloped SpaceX’s Starhopper immediately following an engine static fire test at the Boca Chica launch site Tuesday night, though spectacular, did not harm the stainless-steel-clad prototype, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Via Twitter yesterday, Musk said the eruption of flames was due to a post-test fuel leak, though the vehicle suffered no major damage as a result and the company is planning for a hover test next week.

He tweeted that a “big advantage of being made of high strength stainless steel” was that the hopper was “not bothered by a little heat!”

SpaceX had originally hoped to conduct the first hover test up to 65 feet Tuesday, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon launch. This week’s engine test was the third to take place at Boca Chica. The first two tests took place in early April with an earlier version of SpaceX’s Raptor rocket engine.