A rocket carrying the U.S. Army’s experimental strike weapon exploded just four seconds after taking off from a launch pad in Alaska early Monday. The Department of Defense spokeswoman Maureen Schumann said that the three-stage rocket booster system and the missile it was carrying fell back on the Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island.

Army Hypersonic Rocket

The rocket explosion was loud and scary

Pentagon officials said they decided to destroy the rocket to ensure public safety after detecting an anomaly. The rocket carrying the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon came back down on the launch complex. Fortunately, nobody on the ground was harmed. Officials were yet to determine the extent of damage. The rocket was launched at 4:00 a.m. on Monday at the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska. The launch complex is 25 miles away from the city of Kodiak.

Kodiak photographer Scott Wight told the Associated Press that he watched the liftoff from Cape Greville in Chiniak, about 12 miles away from the launch site. He said the explosion was scary and loud. The U.S. Army is developing an Advanced Hypersonic Weapon that would be capable of striking targets anywhere on the planet within hours. It can reach the speeds of more than 3,600 miles per hour.

The rocket system was built by Sandia National Laboratories

The hypersonic weapon is one of the several advanced technologies being tested under the Prompt Global Strike program, which came into existence after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Prompt Global Strike program researches ultra-fast projectiles to attack targets that threaten larger numbers of people.

The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon was first tested on November 17, 2011. That rocket flew the weapon from Hawaii to Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific. Monday’s test was aimed at enhancing previous modeling, simulation and ground testing. It was expected to cover 3,500 miles in less than an hour. The glide vehicle and the rocket booster were built by Albuquerque-based Sandia National Laboratories.