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Experimental SpaceX rocket explodes in flight

Experimental SpaceX rocket explodes in flight
Falcon 9 / NASA

Elon Musk, the co-founder and investor of PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX and other companies experienced a bit of a setback this weekend in the aeronautics department.

SpaceX, the space transport company headed by Musk, is currently developing reusable rockets that would effectively cheapen space exploration. The only problem is actually getting them to work.

Previous tests have been quite successful, as the video below shows. In this video, SpaceX tested a Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) rocket that took off, flew 1,000 meters vertically, and landed back on its base successfully.

This is a huge leap forward in the realm of space travel. Making rockets reusable would save millions of dollars in parts for a single rocket alone.

Click here to see a successful test. 

The failed test that happened on August 22 was for a Grasshopper/F9R variant that has three Merlin engines instead of one. The Grasshopper is a smaller-scale rocket that is used for tests before moving up to the full-size rockets.

The number of engines may have been increased to more closely resemble the Falcon 9 rocket that has 9 Merlin engines for testing purposes. But whatever the reason, this particular rocket test didn't do so well.

SpaceX released a statement saying that an anomaly was detected during the test of the F9R, the Grasshopper successor, and that the rocket automatically initiated a self-destruct. You can see the failed test by clicking here. 

The rocket takes off vertically, which is par for the course. But as the rocket reaches a peak height, it rotates 90 degrees to become horizontal, and then it explodes.

Next page: What does this mean for SpaceX and interstellar travel?
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