This is the company’s eighth prototype of Starship (dubbed SN8). It flew substantially higher than the 150 meter “hop” the fifth iteration made in August and the sixth made in September—each with only one engine. (SN7 didn’t fly; it was exploded deliberately as part of a pressure test.) SpaceX founder Elon Musk had previously estimated only a one-third chance of success that SN8, armed with three engines, would safely fly and land.
A giant among rockets: SpaceX first unveiled Starship to the world in September 2019, on the 11th anniversary of the company’s first rocket launch. It’s a behemoth, standing over 50 meters tall, and weighs over 1,400 tons (1,270 metric tons) when loaded with fuel. In its final form, the vehicle will double as a six-engine, second-stage booster that sits on top of a giant first-stage booster, the Super Heavy (currently under development). It will carry more than 100 tons worth of cargo and passengers to deep space destinations.
Like the company’s other major space vehicles, Starship is designed to be reusable, to lower the overall cost of spaceflight for robotic and crewed missions alike.