High winds blow over, damage SpaceX rocket in Rio Grande Valley

James Marshall
January 25, 2019

The prototype of the space agency's ambitious Mars-bound project sustained substantial damage in the early hours of Wednesday morning, thanks to 50mph winds in Boca Chica, Texas. It "will take a few weeks to fix", Musk added.

Musk previously said SpaceX plans to build a taller, orbit-capable version "around June" of this year. Musk added that the tanks did not suffer any damage from the windy conditions.

The prototype is a critical experimental vehicle whose successes (or failures) will inform how SpaceX works toward a full-scale, orbit-ready prototype of Starship: a roughly 18-story spaceship created to one day ferry up to 100 people and 150 tons of cargo to Mars. The image shared by Musk harked to old sci-fi movies, with its ship featuring a shiny stainless steel body and an American flag. SpaceX has yet to respond to a request for comment if the accident would delay that timeline.

Before it sends humans around the moon or all the way to Mars, SpaceX needs to get its ambitious Starship spaceship into operation.

The company now uses Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets for all of its launches. Referred to as a "test hopper" by Musk and SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell, documents filed with the US Federal Communications Commission and obtained by SpaceNews show the prototype is intended fly both low-altitude tests of no more than 1,640 feet (500 metres) and high-altitude tests of no more than 16,400 feet (5,000 metres).

SpaceX recently announced that it would lay off around 10% of its 6,000-strong workforce in a bid to make the company "leaner". Additionally, SpaceX said in a regulatory filing that it had sold $273 million in equity, as part of a larger $500 million funding round.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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