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.
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.
The bad news is that the rocket exploded. But the good news is that the rocket never left the flight area, and no people or property were hurt in this setback.
SpaceX sent out a tweet with a statement about the test, saying "During the flight, an anomaly was detected in the vehicle and the flight termination system automatically terminated the mission." You can see the full tweet below.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 23, 2014
"Statement on Today's McGregor Testing
Friday, August 22nd, 2014
Earlier today, in McGregor, Texas, SpaceX conducted a test flight of a three engine version of the F9R test vehicle (successor to Grasshopper). During the flight, an anomaly was detected in the vehicle and the flight termination system automatically terminated the mission.
Throughout the test and subsequent flight termination, the vehicle remained in the designated flight area. There were no injuries or near injuries. An FAA representative was present at all times.
With research and development project, detecting vehicle anomalies during the testing is the purpose of the program. Today's test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test. As is our practice, the company will be reviewing the flight record details to learn more about the performance of the vehicle prior to our next test.
SpaceX will provide another update when the flight data has been fully analyzed."