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SpaceX Rocket Prototype Explodes In Texas; ‘Rockets Are Tricky’, Musk Says

SpaceX's F9R rocket prototype during a successful test in May 2014. Credit: SpaceX/YouTube (screenshot)

SpaceX’s F9R rocket prototype during a successful test in May 2014. Credit: SpaceX/YouTube (screenshot)

No injuries are reported after a SpaceX rocket prototype detonated in Texas today (Aug. 22) after an anomaly was found in the rocket, the company said in a statement.

The  Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) — a successor to the Grasshopper vertical take-off and landing rocket — was completing the latest in a series of ambitious tests that previously saw the prototype successfully testing new steerable fins.

“Today’s test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test,” SpaceX said in a statement (which you can read in full below the jump.) “As is our practice, the company will be reviewing the flight record details to learn more about the performance of the vehicle prior to our next test.”


The company said it would provide more updates as it found information. SpaceX founder Elon Musk issued a brief statement of his own on Twitter:

Screenshot of a June 2014 F9R test flight.

Screenshot of a June 2014 F9R test flight.

Below is SpaceX’s statement:

Earlier today, in McGregor, Texas, SpaceX conducted a test flight of a three-engine version of the F9R test vehicle (successor to Grasshopper.) During the flight, an anomaly was detected in the vehicle and the flight termination system automatically terminated the mission.

Throughout the test and subsequent flight termination, the vehicle remained in the designated flight area. There were no injuries or near injuries. An FAA representative was present at all times.

With research and development projects, detecting vehicle anomalies during the testing is the purpose of the program. Today’s test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test. As is our practice, the company will be reviewing the flight record details to learn more about the performance of the vehicle prior to our next test.

SpaceX will provide another update when the flight data has been fully analyzed.

Here are some recent Universe Today stories on the rocket:

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Paul Scutts August 22, 2014, 9:52 PM

    Every rocket manufacturer has and will have their spectacular failures. Hopefully, SpaceX will quickly identify the glitch and have it rectified.

  • Aqua4U August 24, 2014, 1:43 PM

    Yeah, I’ve been to ‘Glitchville’… been there, done that. But not as spectacularly? Pics of the event appreciated. Sheesh. Of course, the whole idea behind flying a test vehicle is now proven.

  • sitheguy August 26, 2014, 7:23 AM

    Come on Elon, its not rocket science. Oh wait it is.

    In all seriousness, i would see this as a positive. The safety systems work and now for a hopefully small set back.

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