Building a spacecraft that can go to Mars isn't simple, but Elon Musk's SpaceX has been making progress. This week, it conducted a successful test flight (with a fiery ending) of its Starship SN8 prototype. The next Starship in line, however, seems to be leaning at an awkward angle inside its hangar.
Starship SN9 is being prepared for testing at SpaceX's Boca Chica, Texas, development facility. The entire vehicle appears to be tipped to the side, as if the nose cone is touching the wall. This may or may not be cause for concern. There's no word yet on why the prototype is leaning.
The Starship development process is being watched closely from a distance by observers, including a photojournalist and NASASpaceFlight member who goes by Mary under the @BocaChicaGal handle on Twitter. Mary posted a photo Friday of the leaning Starship inside its high bay.
It's unclear whether the tipsiness is a due to an equipment issue or if it might be intentional. SPadre, another Twitter account that documents Starship, shared some more photos of SN9.
The LabPadre YouTube account runs a livestream of the Texas facility and caught sight of the Starship moving at 9:07 a.m. local time on Friday. It looks fairly dramatic from that angle.
Musk often chimes in on Twitter with Starship updates, but has yet to comment on SN9's new pose. SpaceX didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
SpaceX is quickly building prototype Starships with the goal of ever-higher flights as it works out the design and tries the new Raptor engines that power it. The company is aiming for an orbital test and hopes to eventually send Starships to the moon and all the way to Mars.
The test flights have gone remarkably well, though there have been some on-the-ground testing failures. It's all part of the process. SN9's adventure could cause some delays, but its fate inside the hangar is still a mystery.