SpaceX’s Starship toppled, severely damaged during overnight storm

Image tweeted by SpaceX's Elon Musk of components that will be used to prepare the new Starship vehicle for flight. Photo Credit: Elon Musk / SpaceX

Image tweeted by SpaceX’s Elon Musk of components that will be used to prepare the new Starship vehicle for flight. Photo Credit: Elon Musk / SpaceX

In the overnight hours of Jan. 22 and 23, SpaceX’s Starship Hopper test article was severely damaged by strong winds at the SpaceX South Texas launch facility.

As seen in photos posted on NASASpaceFlight.com that were taken by bocachicagal, the nose cone fell over in high winds and experienced significant damage. The lower section of the hopper, which houses fuel tanks, the engines, and the landing legs, appears to be undamaged. Two sections were separated from one another in recent days to allow fuel and oxidizer tanks to be installed. It is not presently known how this might delay the first flight of the Hopper. Musk tweeted the following regarding last night’s incident:

I just heard. 50 mph winds broke the mooring blocks late last night & fairing was blown over. Will take a few weeks to repair.

Damage to SpaceX's Starship hopper can be seen in these images. Photos courtesy of NASASpaceFlight / bocachicagal

Damage to SpaceX’s Starship hopper can be seen in these images. Photos courtesy of NASASpaceFlight / bocachicagal

The National Weather Service office in Brownsville, Texas issued wind advisories for several South Texas counties along the coast, including Cameron County where the launch site is located. The advisories stated that north winds of 30-40 MPH, with gusts of 45 MPH, were to be expected due to a strong cold front passing through the state.

SpaceX’s Starship Hopper is the sub-orbital test article for SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy launch vehicle. The hopper is designed to test concepts on a small-scale before implementing them on the full-sized Super Heavy and Starship. The structure of the hopper is made up of stainless-steel panels and is powered by three Raptor engines.

SpaceX plans to use Super Heavy and Starship to transport people to the Moon and Mars. The vehicle will eventually replace their current Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.

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Patrick Attwell is a native of Houston, Texas but he currently resides in Austin, Texas where he studies accounting at Concordia University Texas. Atwell has had a passion for all things pertaining to aerospace, rocketry, and aviation. Atwell has worked to cover these fields for more than a decade. After he attended and watched the launch of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission it gave him what is known in the space community as “rocket fever.” Since that time, Atwell has followed his dreams and has covered events dealing with NASA’s Commercial Crew flight assignments at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and other space-related events in the Lone Star State.

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