I’m pretty excited about the prospects of private space companies. Hopefully this doesn’t become a recurring problem.
A small rung on a long ladder to Mars broke on Friday, when a rocket test in Texas ended in a midair ball of fire.
Debris from the SpaceX F9R trundled down from the flames onto an open field outside of McGregor.
The blast was no accident, nor a tragedy. The rocket self-destructed as a safety measure — a common practice in the aerospace industry in unmanned crafts.
A hitch in the F9R test vehicle turned up during launch, and the “flight termination system automatically terminated the mission,” SpaceX said in a statement.
“There were no injuries or near injuries.”
But it was a vivid firework for bystanders parked on a nearby country road — and for their cellphone cameras. CNN affiliate KWTX reported the explosion on Friday and posted video.
The F9R has been successfully tested before, but SpaceX decided to push the limits this time, and it didn’t work out, the company said.
All about the landing
F9R launches don’t rumble the earth with the kind of blastoff thunder that the space shuttles or Saturn rockets once did, and the F9R is small, comprising only one stage.
It’s a sawed-off version of its parent, the Falcon 9, the first rocket from a commercial company to fly to the International Space Station, according to SpaceX.