Published: Sat, January 26, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

SpaceX Starship test rocket fractured by fierce winds

SpaceX Starship test rocket fractured by fierce winds

SpaceX's Starship prototype in Texas won't be hopping anytime soon because the rocket's nose cone fell off, according to a report that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed. "Will take a few weeks to fix", Musk said and added that the bottom part, which has the propellant tanks, are fine.

Tuesday's winds that were gusting to over 50 miles-an-hour blew the top half of the rocketship over - heavily damaging the large nosecone of the shiny spacecraft.

The incident occurred at the company's facility in Boca Chica, Texas, after the vessel, known as the Starship, toppled in the volatile weather. Unfortunately for the company, Starhopper didn't make it out unscathed, and Musk estimates that it will take weeks to patch things up.

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A hop test is a big step towards the Starship platform eventually carrying human passengers, but there's still plenty of work to be done between now and that eventual date. The test version of Starship is shorter than the final version will be.

The tweet below shows what the Starship prototype looked like after the heavy, sustained winds knocked over the nosecone. Musk later added that the rocket's "actual tanks are fine". Starship is being built out of very stainless steel, rather than carbon fiber. In a recent interview with Popular Mechanics, SpaceX CEO said that it is being built with stainless steel because it is cheap and fast, while also being strong enough to endure the intense temperature changes and pressure of flying through the Earth's atmosphere.

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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