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Tech Science
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket explodes after liftoff
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket explodes after liftoff

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket explodes after liftoff
Photo Credit: Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel
ORG XMIT: 1098085 SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasts off December 8, 2010 from Cape Canaveral, Florida carrying a Dragon capsule, which is designed to deliver up to 13,000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station. After launch, Dragon is slated to orbit the Earth as many as four times-- to test steering, communications and other components-- before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. This is SpaceX's first test flight under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket explodes after liftoff

Private spaceflight company SpaceX lost a rocket in Texas this week, when an unmanned version of the company’s Falcon 9 vehicle exploded shortly after liftoff on Friday.

KWTX was on the ground nearby.

“The company says discovering problems is exactly why it's important to have test flights. No one was hurt, thank goodness. SpaceX says an internal system set off the explosion when something was wrong.” (Video via WRC-TV)

In a statement released after the mishap, SpaceX did say it had been pushing closer to the limits of the Falcon 9’s capabilities with this test than with previous launches.

But the abortive test does appear to be the exception for SpaceX, not the rule. Earlier this month the company sent the AisaSat 8 satellite to orbit from Cape Canaveral aboard a Falcon 9, with no problems. (Video via SpaceX)

CBS points out “the test failure Friday was the first catastrophic mishap in the test program's history.”

NBC called it “arguably the program's highest-profile failure by far.”

It is rocket science, after all. The vehicles remain, by Elon Musk’s technical assessment on Twitter, “tricky.” SpaceX now plans to analyze everything it can about the mishap before it resumes testing.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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