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SpaceX’s Starship test rocket hit by setback

SpaceX’s Starship test rocket hit by setback

Louis Dillon

SpaceX’s hopper, a prototype of the next-generation Starship it plans on using for manned missions to the moon and Mars, will need “weeks” of repair after being blown over by high winds at its base in Boca Chica, Texas.

Founder and CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, confirmed that the starship’s nosecone sustained damage when “50mph winds broke the mooring blocks” and blew over the craft.

The rest of the spacecraft appear undamaged, with Musk tweeting that the hopper’s fuel tanks are “fine”.

The prototype was just a few weeks from holding its first test flights, with SpaceX aiming for the spacecraft to achieve a height of 5km, and as long as six minutes.

Somewhat prophetically, Musk said that the first tests could be delayed by four weeks longer than anticipated, due to “unforeseen issues”, in a tweet sent on January 6.

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SpaceX is aiming for its first (unmanned) mission to Mars in 2022, if development and testing go to plan, in order to confirm water resources, identify hazards and install initial power, mining and life support infrastructure.

A second, and this time crewed, mission is set for 2024, with the aim of building a propellant depot and preparing for future crewed flights.

SpaceX will also use the first ships from these missions to serve as the beginnings of a first Mars base, with the aim of building a “thriving city and eventually a self-sustaining civilisation on Mars”.

As well as interplanetary transport, Starship is designed to deliver satellites to Earth orbit and beyond.

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