In Brief

Elon Musk: SpaceX’s broken Starship rocket prototype to take ‘weeks to repair’

Top section of test vehicle collapses as strong winds hit Texas

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said that it will take “a few weeks” to repair the company’s Starship rocket prototype, which collapsed yesterday morning in strong winds.

The stainless steel “hopper” craft is designed for “takeoff and landing tests” and had only just been revealed by Musk on social media earlier this month, CNet reports.

But Maria Pointer, a resident near the company’s Starship assembly site in Boca Chica Village, Texas, posted images on social media that revealed that the top section of the vehicle had separated from the rest of the rocket in the gusty conditions.

The vehicle broke apart at 5am (10am UK time) yesterday morning, though there were sounds of “metal damage” three hours beforehand, she said. 

Pointer stressed that there were no warnings for “hurricane force” winds at the time. 

Musk later confirmed on Twitter that the vehicle had been damaged, adding that 50mph winds had caused part of the prototype’s internal structure to collapse. 

He said the tanks, which help propel the vehicle off the ground, were “fine” but it will “take a few weeks to repair” the damage. 

The Starship prototype is a “critical experimental vehicle” to help SpaceX gather all the information it needs to develop a full-size, 18-storey high rocket that will one day send up to 100 tourists into space, says Business Insider

SpaceX hopes to send its first paying customer, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and eight of his friends, into orbit aboard the massive craft in 2023, the news site adds. 

Given that Musk believes the damaged test vehicle can be repaired in a matter of weeks, it’s unlikely that the incident will delay the company’s preparations to send Maezawa and his friends into space.

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