NASA prototype crashes and burns, literally

It was not a successful test down at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

 That was the location for a test run of NASA’s new lander vehicle. The craft, named Morpheus, lasted only about 12 seconds after it left the launch pad before it fell over and burst into flames.

It happened yesterday afternoon. The spectacle was caught on video by NASA TV. Firefighters were able to control the inferno, and no injuries were reported.

Obviously, it was just a test run so this isn’t a cataclysmic event, and the space agency is reacting accordingly.

“We anticipated the potential for this type of scenario, and so we had a second vehicle in work. We look forward to learning from what happened today and preparing ourselves for future testing,” said project manager Jon Olansen.

Of course, the team is still disappointed by the outcome, but everyone agrees it’s better to happen now than before an actual mission.

Morpheus was designed to test a new kind of engine, one that burned liquid oxygen and liquid methane for more reliable propulsion systems in space. Clearly, though, there are still some kinks to work out.

“We want to make sure that what we learn from today gets applied to that next vehicle,” said Olansen.