Experimental SpaceX Test Flight Ends Plus One Explosion, Minus One Rocket
Actual rocket science.
Oh dear. Yesterday, a SpaceX rocket prototype exploded during a test flight, after an as-of-yet unexplained anomaly caused the vehicle to self destruct. Thankfully, the incident occurred over a SpaceX testing area in Texas, so there were no injuries, nor was anyone in danger. The only results were some falling debris and, presumably, a control room full of gloomy aerospace engineers.
The rocket in question was the F9R, intended as a successor to the retired SpaceX Grasshopper. Like its predecessor, the F9R is a reusable rocket, which can land itself on a set of retractable legs. It’s an experimental spacecraft, and SpaceX noted in a press release that yesterday’s test was “particularly complex.” Personally, I like Elon Musk’s take on it.
Three engine F9R Dev1 vehicle auto-terminated during test flight. No injuries or near injuries. Rockets are tricky …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 23, 2014
While explosions aren’t an ideal way for a test flight to end, it’s important to remember that failure is a natural part of the testing process. In a way, this a good thing. Discovering a mechanical problem during a test flight means that they have time to work the kinks out. SpaceX is already building a second F9R, so hopefully the next test will have more successful results.