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SpaceX’s shiny new rocket broke when it tipped over in high winds

Published Jan 24th, 2019 11:59AM EST

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SpaceX’s Starship might not be ready to carry passengers for a while, but that hasn’t stopped the company and its enigmatic CEO from generating plenty of hype. The Starship prototype, named Starhopper, was slated to begin testing within weeks, but a breezy night in Texas has changed all of that.

According to Musk, winds topping 50 miles per hour managed to break the blocks to secure the spacecraft in an upright orientation, causing it to tumble onto its side. Unfortunately for the company, Starhopper didn’t make it out unscathed, and Musk estimates that it will take weeks to patch things up.

Fortunately for SpaceX, the damage caused by the winds appears to have been confined to the fairing portion, which is like a large nosecone dominates the top of the spacecraft. The “working” part of the rocket escaped the mishap.

A hop test is a big step towards the Starship platform eventually carrying human passengers, but there’s still plenty of work to be done between now and that eventual date. Things had been moving along nicely for the project, with Elon Musk tweeting out images of the Starhopper components just days before revealing the fully built prototype.

This setback, while a bit of a bummer, is really nothing new for SpaceX. The company has had to deal with countless false starts and accidents in its relatively short history, but it makes a habit of bouncing back. Starhopper’s first real tests will see a bit of a delay — we still don’t know exactly how long — but SpaceX will have the opportunity show us what it’s shiny new ship is capable of sooner rather than later.

Going by recent status updates and Musk’s estimate of how long it will take to repair the fairing damage, we might finally see Starhopper fly sometime in March.

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