Elon Musk's prototype of the starship spacecraft – the payload of a system known as the Big "Falcon" Rocket, which can be used by SpaceX colonists to likely deaths on Mars — falls into a strong position at Boca Chica, Texas on Tuesday.
Craft sustained serious damage to its fairing , photos show. According to the Verge, Musk tweeted that the Starship's mooring blocks broke during 50 miles per hour and that the fairing will take weeks to repair, though its propellant tanks are fine.
The Starship spacecraft, a reusable second stage launch vehicle, is designed to launch from Earth on top of a large rocket booster called the Super Heavy.
However, Musk has characterized the project in south Texas as "subsections of the Starship Mk in orbital design," adding that it is not actually built to full height . Referred to as a "test hopper" by Musk and SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell, documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission and obtained by SpaceNews show the prototype is intended to fly both low-altitude tests or no more than 1,640 feet (500 meters) and high-altitude tests of no more than 16,400 feet (5,000 meters).
As Popular Mechanics noted, the hypothetical finished craft will "sport a much sturdier skin with the journey out of Earth's atmosphere" – although Musk has taken the unusual step of building it out of a double-walled stainless steel alloy shell, the magazine will not buckle, will withstand extreme temperatures, and use water or fuel as the "first ever regenerative heat shield." According to Ars Technica, Musk also tweeted that the prototype's three Raptor engines (seven on the finished craft and 31 on the Super Heavy booster) have been radically redesigned with materials from SpaceX's su peralloy foundry. ”
On Jan. 5, Musk tweeted that he was aiming for the first tests of the prototype in "four weeks, which probably means 8 weeks, due to unforeseen issues." Presumably, blowing over in the Texas wind will set back his timetable a bit.