ORLANDO, Fla., July 26 (UPI) -- SpaceX is marching on with tests of its next-generation Starship rocket and spacecraft, with test fires in Texas and construction in Florida.
Company founder Elon Musk tweeted video showing a test on Thursday of a prototype for the new system, called Starhopper, at the company's facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
The test was a short launch, or hop, that lifted the Starhopper a few dozen meters into the air, untethered. The company is testing how its new engine, the Raptor, will work with the new Starship.
The Texas video, shot from a drone, showed the shiny metal Starhopper, which is covered in stainless steel, lifting off as it was surrounded by a large cloud of smoke.
Tests have not been obvious at the Florida location, which is in an isolated industrial park in Cocoa, but a tall prototype of the Starship is visible from the surrounding area.
Musk previously said both Florida and Texas sites will make many Starships.
"This is a competition to see which location is most effective. Answer might be both," he said on Twitter in May.
He's also described the Starship as the spaceship and upper stage of the rocket combined, while a Super Heavy version will have a booster needed to escape Earth's gravity. If its destination is the moon or Mars, it won't need the Super Heavy booster to get off those celestial bodies and return to Earth.
SpaceX's mission has long been to send people to Mars to establish a settlement there.
Musk has described the Raptor engines as using subcooled, liquid oxygen and methane. Part of the reason for methane in the rocket is greater efficiency and ability to produce it on Mars for a return trip.
The test in Texas took place on the same evening that SpaceX successfully launched its 18th cargo mission to the International Space Station, on a Falcon 9 rocket topped by a cargo Dragon spacecraft.