Starhopper scheduled to hop today

Crews work around SpaceX's experimental prototype Starhopper rocket at the company's launch facility Tuesday morning. The company plans to conduct another round of testing starting on Friday, Aug. 9. (Denise Cathey/ The Brownsville Herald)

SpaceX has been issued a launch permit from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a 150-meter “hop” of the company’s Starhopper test vehicle today at the Boca Chica Beach launch/test site, according to nasaspaceflight.com.

On Aug. 24, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Looks like … Starhopper flight may be as soon as Monday. FAA support is much appreciated!”

The flight has been delayed for weeks for lack of an FAA permit. The permit that was finally issued for today’s planned flight is for 50 meters lower than what SpaceX had originally sought. Still, it gives the company permission to fly the hopper to an altitude of nearly 500 feet. Starhopper’s first untethered hop, to about 60 feet, took place on July 25.

The FAA has also issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) for Aug. 26-28, 2 p.m. to midnight each day, prohibiting aircraft operation within four miles of the launch site from ground level up to and including 8,000 feet above sea level.

Cameron County has authorized the closure of Boca Chica Beach and S.H. 4 from the beach to Oklahoma Avenue from 2 p.m. to midnight Aug. 26-28, with today listed as the primary launch date and Aug. 27-28 as secondary dates.

The county has also advised residents of Boca Chica Village to vacate the area, or at least be outside their homes, during today’s launch window of 4 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. to avoid injury from broken windows in the event of an “overpressure event” caused by a rocket malfunction.