SpaceX needs to try out a test rocket of its Starship before sending the spaceship to the outer space. However, even before the hopper is tested out, strong winds toppled its nosecone over.
Photos shared from the SpaceX's Boca Chica, Texas facility show that a huge part of what once stood tall has fallen to the ground. 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.
Damage To The Test Rocket
According to Maria Pointer, a SpaceX watcher and who shared some of the photos, they started to hear "metal damage" from 2 a.m., although the nosecone eventually fell off three hours later. SpaceX CEO Musk also confirmed via a tweet that his Starship test rocket was no longer standing.
"50 mph winds broke the mooring blocks late last night & fairing was blown over. Will take a few weeks to repair," Musk said and added that the bottom part, which has the propellant tanks, are fine.
Starship Vs Hopper
The hopper, as Musk and SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell calls the prototype, will not go into space nor orbit the Earth. According to the documents from Federal Communications Commission, it was designed to make "hops" that will not exceed 16,400 feet.
The test rocket isn't exactly identical with the Starship, formerly known as the BFR. The hopper only has three engines while the final one has seven.
The windowless test rocket is also shorter than the Starship. Musk announced early this year that the hopper should start permforing tests in four to eight weeks, a deadline which will obviously be moved given the recent damage.
The test rocket should follow the same hop tests done by the Grasshopper, the prototype for Falcon 9. 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.