SpaceX Starship test rocket fractured by fierce winds

Elon Musk says it will take a few weeks to repair the stainless-steel hopper.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
Enlarge Image

The bottom section of Starship is still standing in this image taken by Maria Pointer.

Maria Pointer/bocachicaMaria

Before it sends humans around the moon or all the way to Mars, SpaceX needs to get its ambitious Starship spaceship into operation. A prototype "hopper" designed for takeoff and landing tests suffered a setback when high winds knocked its nose cone over.

SpaceX watcher Maria Pointer captured images of the incident in Texas and shared them on Facebook Wednesday. The photos show the nose cone fallen over on the ground. 

Daily journal 1.23.19 BocachicaMaria

Posted by Maria Pointer on Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"Starship falls around 5 a.m. But we heard metal damage from 2 a.m. onward," Pointer wrote in another post. "We did not have hurricane force wind warnings."

SpaceX founder Elon Musk confirmed the damage on Twitter, writing that 50 mph winds broke the mooring blocks and the fairing was blown over. "Will take a few weeks to repair," he said, adding that the tanks on the bottom end of the ship are fine.

Musk and SpaceX unveiled the shiny Starship earlier in January. This test version won't be heading into space, but Musk says SpaceX hopes to have an orbital prototype ready around June. 

The company's South Texas Launch Site is located in Boca Chica Village near Brownsville, Texas. The National Weather Service in Brownsville issued a wind advisory late on Tuesday, saying "caution is advised for high-profile vehicles." Starship is definitely a high-profile vehicle.

Elon Musk comes alive on social media: Part entrepreneur, part madman

See all photos