Morpheus Lander Crashes and Burns

by Jason Major on August 9, 2012

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NASA’s “lean and green” Morpheus lander crashed and burned during a free flight test at Kennedy Space Center today, August 9, at approximately 12:46 pm EDT.

Watch a video of the failed test after the jump:

Designed in-house at Johnson Space Center, the Morpheus lander is engineered to use a liquid oxygen and methane fuel — relatively cheap materials that can be stored easily and would be available resources on other worlds besides Earth.

Morpheus’ first successful tethered flight had just occurred a few days earlier, on August 3.

It IS still rocket science, after all…

Images: NASA TV


A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Aqua4U August 9, 2012 at 5:08 PM

DuhOOOO! Lucky it missed that big rig trailer(?) in the bg… which might have been full of O2 or Methane?

Ben Brockert August 9, 2012 at 5:36 PM

That’s a helium trailer.

Aqua4U August 10, 2012 at 12:15 AM

Not to make ‘light’ of your statement, but how do you know that?

Jonathan May August 9, 2012 at 5:51 PM

It’s actually filled with unpopped popcorn.

MarconisUFO August 10, 2012 at 7:04 PM

The lens that was being used on that camera only made that tanker truck look close, it was probably over a half mile away.

Aqua4U August 10, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Very true my friend.. lens do that. Am sure the trailer was parked far enough away to satisfy range safety experts and it’s appearance in the background was just a perspective effect…

Per Edman August 9, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Good thing the flight test was free.

soul68 August 9, 2012 at 5:35 PM

That’s why they are called test flights.

Shootist August 9, 2012 at 5:47 PM

God and Mr Heinlein will one day be proven right. The only good space ship is one that takes off and lands straight up and down.

Zoutsteen from Holland August 9, 2012 at 6:52 PM

For Heinlein it would be enough if his cat agrees purringly.

Torbjörn Larsson August 9, 2012 at 10:50 PM

Don’t forget Santa Claus and Aunt Edna, experts on travel.

Shootist August 10, 2012 at 3:10 AM

It is a variant of a quote from Dr. Jerry Pournelle. Speaking of DC/X, Pournelle said, ” It flew
straight up, moved sideways, and landed on a tail of fire just as God and
Robert Heinlein intended rockets to do.”

Jim Scotti August 9, 2012 at 6:03 PM

This isn’t rocket science – this is rocket engineering – that’s a lot harder than rocket science…. As they say, you learn more from failures than successes, so I bet they learn a lot from this.

TerryG August 10, 2012 at 2:59 AM

True Scotti. Of course, there’d be a lot less heartache if only they could cover the test article with landing legs (similar in appearance to a distressed Puffer fish). This way, you could still uncover the untethered failure modes and keep to the test schedule but without risking the Kaa-boom outcome.

A Spot in Houston August 9, 2012 at 6:41 PM

FYI, Morpheus has had many several successful tethered flights at JSC. It’s only just arrived at KSC, though. Please correct the summary.

Queequeg de la Pequod August 9, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Now, that is the wrong attitude.

Commercial SpaceHub August 10, 2012 at 2:57 AM

There is already another being built to replace this one, the tests will continue…

Stan Taylor August 10, 2012 at 1:10 PM

WHAT IF I TOLD YOU… that I was going to flop over on my back like that Olympic diver?
- Morpheus

Aqua4U August 10, 2012 at 1:56 PM

I got curious about what Morpheus was all about and found this statement in a ‘Spaceflight Now’ blog’… “It was manufactured and assembled at JSC and Armadillo Aerospace,” the project said on its web page. “Morpheus is large enough to carry 1,100
pounds of cargo to the moon — for example, a humanoid robot, a small
rover, or a small laboratory to convert moon dust into oxygen —
performing all propellant burns after the trans-lunar injection.”

Key words here are humanoid robot, small rover or lab and Morpheus’ ability to perform all propellant burns after TLI. This puppy is/was Nasa’s next lunar lander! Now I’m bummed… ~@; P

Kawarthajon August 10, 2012 at 7:02 PM

I know it wasn’t supposed to go KABOOM, but that must have been pretty awesome to watch anyhow. What a blast!!!

Marlo Rocci August 10, 2012 at 7:43 PM

Hello? Fire supression system? Where are you?

Tatiana Covington August 10, 2012 at 10:20 PM

I hate it when they do that. I’ve seen old V2 test footage. There was one that just farted and fell over and blew up.

Philippe Tca August 11, 2012 at 3:17 PM

But the real failure in all of this, is that someone who is paid to write for a living still uses the phrase, “After the jump.”

Martin Sneitz August 12, 2012 at 1:12 AM

Thats what happens when you have a specified mount of “money” to use. We people could build something much better if it always wasnt for the “money”, geez, i feel sorry for you all..

nuoji August 15, 2012 at 1:29 PM

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