Science

SpaceX's shiny new rocket broke when it tipped over in high winds

SpaceX's shiny new rocket broke when it tipped over in high winds”

Whoops. Starship Hopper nosecone has been blown over in high winds.

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

The test hopper is a squat version of a full-scale Starship: a spaceship that's being created to send people to Mars. The tech company will instead build and test the prototype in south Texas. Unfortunately for the company, Starhopper didn't make it out unscathed, and Musk estimates that it will take weeks to patch things up. The Starship Hopper will eventually perform suborbital vertical take-off and landing tests similar to how the company tested a Falcon 9 rocket called the Grasshopper in 2012. It "will take a few weeks to fix", Musk added. The test version of Starship is shorter than the final version will be. The photo, taken by a user named BocaChicaGal, shows the top half of the vehicle crumpled and broken open at the top.

Musk later tweeted saying that the "actual tanks" - the more complex base of the rocket - "are fine".

Musk also recently told Popular Mechanics that building with stainless steel is cheap and a fast process, while also being strong to endure the temperature changes and flying pressure through our planet's atmosphere. The image shared by Musk harked to old sci-fi movies, with its ship featuring a shiny stainless steel body and an American flag.

This is more likely an example of rough, ad-hoc testing being used to generally characterize and navigate the early stages of new technology development, hence the improvised testbed of a few ceramic insulation blankets and industrial torches already on-hand at SpaceX's Hawthorne, CA factory.



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