SpaceX Starship could land on moon by 2021, says Elon Musk

Watch SpaceX’s Starhopper rocket test get a fireball finish

Watch SpaceX’s Starhopper rocket test get a fireball finish

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. The test saw the vehicle's single next-generation methane-fueled Raptor engine fired for approximately four seconds.

The first private company to launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft, SpaceX (which is short for Space Exploration Technologies) is one of the companies that delivers cargo to the International Space Station. SpaceX is building multiple versions of the rocket at the organization's test facilities in Cape Canaveral, Florida and Boca Chica.

Starhopper created to test technologies for a Starship, the vehicles 100 passengers, which SpaceX hopes will one day take people and cargo to destinations far beyond low earth orbit.

Engineers at Boca Chica were working to demonstrate the capabilities of the new powerful Raptor engine, but during the tests something went wrong. During these events, the vehicle's engine will ignite, taking the rocket up to an elevation high above the Earth. However, during these tests, the Starhopper was still attached to the ground for safety purposes. It's all meant to test the vehicle's capability to launch from and land on Earth - as well as other planets.

SpaceX had been wanting to perform the first hop test this week. Moments after a seemingly successful ignition, the rocket lit up again in a fireball which had to be extinguished. While the company did not disclose details of the incident and will it affect the schedule of the subsequent tests. Photographs of Starhopper taken this morning show apparently minimal damage to the vehicle.