A NASA lander experiment titled Morpheus exploded during an experimental flight today. (Photo : NASA/YouTube Snapshot)
A prototype of a NASA lander launched, crashed, and exploded during a test flight at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Thursday afternoon
The test lander, named Morpheus, was built with cheap "off-the-shelf" equipment from Houston's Johnson Space Center. The purpose of the test was to see if a more readily-available and environmentally friendly rocket fuel can be used. NASA had hoped to use the fuel in future mission to the moon or on an asteroid. The experiment cost up to $7 million.
Like Us on Facebook
Morpheus arrived at the Kennedy Space Center from Houston after nearly a year of testing.
Before the prototype explosion, Morpheus project manager Dr. Jon Olansen said, "We are excited to now have the vehicle at Kennedy, and look forward to working with the center's Morpheus team. We'll hit the ground running."
Back on Aug. 3, Morpheus was placed at the north end of the Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility, designed to emulate the surface of the moon with boulders, craters, and hills.
Olansen stated in order to test Morpheus, the weather must be right, with winds between three and 23 miles per hour, no rain, and no lighting.
The day of testing came, and seconds after launch, Morpheus is seen tumbling to the right followed by a fiery explosion.
NASA spokeswoman Lisa Malone said the methane-powered Morpheus lander is now a total loss. She noted that no one was hurt in the unmanned test, and the fire was extinguished.