SpaceX test rocket crashes in Texas

Updated: 2014-08-23 22:43


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HOUSTON - An unmanned rocket, manufactured by the private spaceflight company, SpaceX, exploded during a test flight at a Texas facility Friday, the company said.

The tested rocket, a modified three-engine version of the company's Falcon 9R rocket, blew itself up over SpaceX's development site in McGregor in central Texas Friday, according to a statement released by the company.

"During the flight, an anomaly was detected in the vehicle and the flight termination system automatically terminated the mission," the statement said.

There were no injuries from the mishap. The company said the rocket did not veer off course throughout the test and subsequent flight termination. A representative from the Federal Aviation Administration was reportedly present.

Photos and videos posted to social media showed a fireball in the sky and debris falling off. Firefighters on the ground moved in time to contain a grass fire caused by the crash.

The tested vehicle, a follow-up to the reusable Grasshopper rocket, is designed to launch and then land on the same site. SpaceX has been using the Falcon 9 to launch satellites and the Dragon spacecraft, which delivers cargo to the International Space Station.

SpaceX had planned to fly another Falcon 9R vehicle from a New Mexico site for high-altitude testing. It's not clear if the launch could be delayed after Friday's Falcon 9R mishap in Texas.

Founded in 2002, SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. It is the only private company ever to return a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit, which it first accomplished in December 2010. It's also the first private company to attach a spacecraft to the International Space Station, exchange cargo payloads and return safely to Earth.

The company will build the world's first private commercial rocket launch facility in south Texas, with launches as early as 2015.