Science

SpaceX prototype Starship's top half damaged by high-speed winds

SpaceX prototype Starship's top half damaged by high-speed winds

CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet Wednesday that winds of 50 miles per hour "broke the mooring blocks late last night" and blew over the rocket's "fairing" - the large nosecone at the top of the rocket.

Elon Musk's rocket company, SpaceX, has built a prototype of a stainless-steel rocket ship in southern Texas in the US.

The current test vehicle is 30 feet across and 180 feet tall. A prototype "hopper" designed for takeoff and landing tests suffered a setback when high winds knocked its nose cone over.

The rocket represents the test iteration of Starship, which SpaceX is building to transport humans and cargo to Mars.

It is believed the high winds caused the collapse. Unfortunately for the company, Starhopper didn't make it out unscathed, and Musk estimates that it will take weeks to patch things up.




Musk confirmed damage to the nosecone in a tweet Wednesday and estimated that it would take several weeks to fix.

A photo taken by NASAspaceflight.com member "BocaChicaGal" shows the rocket's crumpled top on the ground. However, even before the hopper is tested out, strong winds toppled its nosecone over. Musk and Gwynne Shotwell, the president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, call the ship the "test hopper" because it's not created to launch to Mars or even into orbit around Earth.

Mr Musk had previously indicated that the test rocket could be ready for trial flights within four weeks, but admitted it could be as long as eight weeks when unforeseen issues are factored in. According to the documents from Federal Communications Commission, it was created to make "hops" that will not exceed 16,400 feet. As for Starship, which had undergone major changes with its stainless steel alloy design instead of the originally planned carbon-fiber composites, it aims to bring about 100 people to Mars one day.

It's "very easy to work with steel", Musk said.


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