Strong Winds Hit Elon Musk's Starship Prototype and Down It Goes


The test hopper is a squat version of a full-scale Starship: a spaceship that's being created to send people to Mars.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk confirmed the damage on Twitter, writing that 50 miles per hour winds broke the mooring blocks and the fairing was blown over.

A prototype spacecraft from Elon Musk's SpaceX has been damaged after being knocked over by strong winds. "Will take a few weeks to fix", confirmed Musk when a Twitter user asked him about the crash.

Elon Musk indicated that the injured nose cone would take several weeks to fix, likely pushing the beginning of Starhopper's hop test campaign into late-February or March.

However, according to the National Weather Service in Brownsville, Texas, the wind advisory was issued late on Tuesday - "caution is advised for high-profile vehicles". The test version of Starship is shorter than the final version will be. This prototype, which would be used for takeoff tests and landing trials, was created since the holidays by the Elon Musk-owned space company's engineers in the location.

A photo taken by member "BocaChicaGal" shows the rocket's crumpled top on the ground.

Musk followed up in a later tweet by saying that the "actual tanks" - the more complex base of the rocket - "are fine".

Starship is being built out of a very light stainless steel, rather than carbon fiber. Musk said in an interview with Popular Mechanics published this week that there were two reasons why this material was chosen: low price and high strength.

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.