Watch SpaceX’s Starhopper Hover at Its Highest Altitude Yet

The company sees Starhopper as a stepping stone toward human flights to Mars.

SpaceX’s Starhopper performed its most ambitious flight on Tuesday at the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

The vehicle blasted off shortly after 6pm ET, ascended to an altitude of roughly 150 meters, hovered for several seconds, then descended to a different site than its original launchpad.

Starhopper is part of SpaceX’s vision to construct an enormous reusable spacecraft called Starship, which would be capable of carrying people and cargo to Mars and other deep space locations.

Tuesday’s flight was the latest demonstration of the next generation Raptor rocket, which the company is developing as the main propulsion engine for Starship. Raptor differs from previous SpaceX engines, such as the Merlin and Kestrel, by incorporating cryogenic liquid methane into its fuel, as opposed to the previous mix of refined kerosene and liquid oxygen.

This switch is motivated by the company’s Martian ambitions, as methane would be a relatively abundant propellant on the red planet.

Starhopper’s first major flight was conducted in July, when it flew to a height of 18 meters. Now that it has successfully performed a “hop” at a much higher altitude, SpaceX plans to move on to developing larger prototypes of Starship capable of suborbital test flights, according to Ars Technica.