A lander being tested for missions to the Moon and beyond crashed and burned at Cape Canaveral seconds after lifting off in a first test of free flight yesterday, causing a spectacular explosion as its oxygen and methane fuel tanks exploded.
"Failures such as these were anticipated prior to the test, and are part of the development process for any complex spaceflight hardware," NASA said in a statement. An investigation is under way, the statement added.
Project Morpheus began in partnership with privately owned Armadillo Aerospace, which is developing re-usable, suborbital vehicles that take off and land vertically.
NASA, which has spent about $7 million on the project over the past 2-1/2 years, is interested in developing technologies that could be used to fly cargo to the moon and other future missions beyond Earth orbit.
Watch the crash in HD, AFTER THE JUMP...