SpaceX is hoping to see Mars in ten years time but the explosion last week shows that that is a lofty pursuit.
An anomoly occurred during the launch, and the “flight termination system automatically terminated the mission,” SpaceX said in a statement.
“There were no injuries or near-injuries.”
It did, however, provide for some great television as a number of people filmed the launch and subsequent explosion with their smartphone cameras.
SpaceX rocket takes off and lands the same way
The real key to the F9R is not the takeoff which didn’t work out terrifically well in this latest test, but its landing. The rocket is designed to land on its four-legged landing gear preserving the rocket for future use. This is imperative for any manned-mission to Mars presuming that all astronauts aboard would some day like to return to Earth.
That’s not the case with Dutch nonprofit Mars One. That company is presently taking applications from pioneers/crazies who are up for a one-way trip to Mars. For those who apply, it comes with the understanding that they will not return but rather build and live on a permanent Mars colony.
While Elon Musk and SpaceX have Martian ambitions, Space X is currently battling with Boeing, Blue Origin and the Sierra Nevada Corporation to develop a “safe, reliable and cost-effective” means which to deliver astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Either this month or next, NASA plans to award “one or more contracts” to the competitors. Clearly Musk won’t be loving the timing of the failed launch as the contracts are soon to be awarded.
He did, however, take it with a good amount of humor when he tweeted that “Rockets are tricky.”
Three engine F9R Dev1 vehicle auto-terminated during test flight. No injuries or near injuries. Rockets are tricky …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 23, 2014
The F9R is a considerably smaller version of its parent the Falcon 9 which was the first rocket from a commercial company to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. While the Falcon 9 used nine engines to propel the rocket into an Earth orbit, the F9R uses only three. To date, it has only flown to 1,000 meters as it practices the tricky beat, returning to Earth upright.
While people in Texas could be forgiven for fearing potential explosions and the rain of rocket, Space X is quick to point out that the rocket never veered off course during the failed launch.
In “unrelated” SpaceX has decided to delay the launch of a satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida using one of its Falcon 9 rockets by a day given weather in the Gulf of Mexico.