SpaceX’s glamorous retro-looking new rocket, Starship Hopper, has suffered a dramatic setback after high winds in Texas caused it to topple and suffer damage.
Images posted on social media and fan forums show the vehicle’s nose-cone lying crumpled on the round.
Discussing the incident on Twitter, the company’s billionaire owner Elon Musk said that “50mph winds broke the mooring blocks late last night” and the “fairing was blown over”.
Mr Musk added that it “will take a few weeks to repair” the rocket, but noted that the fuel tanks are fine.
He is a regular user of the platform and often engages with fans there, although he has been criticised for previous tweets – including one suggesting a British diver was a sex offender, and another which claimed he was about to take another of his companies, Tesla, private.
Despite the crumpling, the silver-looking rocket has very few additional features or frills to be damaged, aside from a simple American flag on the hull.
When Mr Musk first posted the picture of it he was keen to stress that the image wasn’t a rendering because of its similarity to an artist’s impression which he had previously released.
The current configuration of the Starship Hopper will complete sub-orbital flights, or “hops”, racing high into the atmosphere before landing back on Earth.
According to Mr Musk, an orbital version will be tested in June – working in conjunction with SpaceX’s new rocket booster called the Super Heavy.
The orbital version is taller than the Hopper, has thicker skin which won’t wrinkle when exposed to the pressure of orbital flight and also has a smoothly curving nose section.
(c) Sky News 2019: New SpaceX rocket Starship damaged after high winds blew it over in Texas