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SpaceX Falcon 9 test vehicle explodes during 'particularly complex' Texas test flight

SpaceX Falcon 9 test vehicle explodes during 'particularly complex' Texas test flight


Onboard systems detected an "anomaly" and aborted

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SpaceX's rocket program suffered a setback today, with one of its three-engine Falcon rockets exploding in mid-air during a test flight in McGregor, Texas. The company says it triggered the action after onboard systems detected that something was wrong. Nobody was injured, local Central Texas news station KXXV reports.

According to SpaceX, the Falcon 9-R Dev 1 test rocket's systems detected "an anomaly" that led to an automatic termination of the test. A company spokesperson added that it's analyzing the data for more information on what the anomaly was, and how it occurred. "With research and development projects, detecting vehicle anomalies during the testing is the purpose of the program," a SpaceX spokesperson told The Verge. "Today's test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test."

SpaceX explosion (Facebook) (KXXV-TV/Facebook)

The Falcon 9R was created to trim the costs of space travel and transportation with a design that can launch, deliver payloads, and land back on earth upright for rapid reuse. That includes payloads like satellites, as well as the company's Dragon capsule, which can transport up to seven astronauts. The private space company has been testing the idea of hovering and landing since late 2012 with the Falcon's predecessor the Grasshopper, which was retired last October.

Update 8/23 9:15am ET: A previous version of this article implied that the SpaceX Falcon 9R exploded over Texas yesterday evening. That was inaccurate. It was a Falcon 9R Dev 1 Test Vehicle, which cannot carry a payload. The article has been updated to reflect the change.