The SpaceX hopper, a prototype of its next-generation Starship, has encountered a troublesome foe on Earth: the wind. Strong Texas winds have knocked over its nosecone.
Whoops. Starship Hopper nosecone has been blown over in high winds.
— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) January 23, 2019
I just heard. 50 mph winds broke the mooring blocks late last night & fairing was blown over. Will take a few weeks to repair.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 23, 2019
The hopper, based out of the company’s launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, is not meant for the stars: It is a test machine meant to show that the Starship’s fundamentals can work in terms of launching and landing. SpaceX wants the rocket to go 16,400 feet into the air (a hop, so to speak) and land again. The wind, sadly, had other plans and knocked the hopper’s nosecone around.
The accident appears to have first reached the public through eagle-eyed SpaceX aficionados on a message board which updates with even the smallest changes in anything related to the company’s plans. Their methods include everything from drone flyovers to driving by the site.
It’s hard to tell what damage has precisely happened to the hopper in its fall, but it appears to be more complex than simply righting back up again. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk responded to questions on Twitter by saying that it will “take a few weeks to repair.” He stressed, however, that only the nosecone has been damaged. “Actual tanks are fine,” he offered in an brief update, referring to the hopper’s fuel tanks.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics