South African-born Elon Musk’s SpaceX programme suffered a bit of a set-back over the weekend, as one of the rockets they were testing self-destructed in mid-air. It was conducting a test flight of the three engine version of the Falcon 9R rocket when it exploded.
But it actually all went according to plan… sort of. While the aim of the test wasn’t to blow up the rocket, it was a computer system that correctly triggered the explosion.
“During the flight, an anomaly was detected in the vehicle and the flight termination system automatically terminated the mission,” SpaceX said in a media statement. The rocket came down over McGregor in Texas, and SpaceX added that the rocket remained in the designated flight area.
It is in the process of analysing the data to determine the cause of the triggered termination, but added that it’s all in a day’s work.
“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.”
The Falcon 9R rocket is being developed as a much cheaper alternative to traditional rockets. The 9R is designed to launch, deliver its payload, and land back to earth in an upright position so that it can be used again as quickly as possible.
Three engine F9R Dev1 vehicle auto-terminated during test flight. No injuries or near injuries. Rockets are tricky…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 23, 2014
[Source, Image – SpaceX]