SpaceX Rocket Explodes: F9R Vehicle Experiences 'Anomaly' During Test Flight

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An unmanned Falcon 9 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in this handout photo provided by NASA in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 18, 2014. The rocket, built and operated by privately owned Space Exploration Technology, was to deliver a cargo capsule to the International Space Station for NASA.

A SpaceX F9R test rocket exploded in midair on Friday during a flight test conducted at the company’s facility in McGregor, Texas, officials said. No one was injured in the accident.

McGregor fire chief Moe Spradley confirmed the SpaceX rocket explosion on Friday, stating that firefighters arrived at the scene to extinguish its wreckage, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said in a statement that the rocket “automatically terminated” after experiencing an “anomaly.”

“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,” the statement said.

“Throughout the test and subsequent flight termination, the vehicle remained in the designated flight area. There were no injuries or near injuries. An FFA representative was present at all times,” the statement added. SpaceX said that it would “provide another update when the flight data has been fully analyzed.”

The SpaceX rocket explosion occurred months after the United States Air Force revealed that it would not yet certify the company for Pentagon contracts. In a letter to U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) of the House Armed Services Committee, Air Force officials cited concerns with issues experienced by SpaceX aircraft on three previous missions.

SpaceX plans to develop a reusable rocket capable of facilitating a roundtrip to the moon and, ultimately, to Mars. In late July, company president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell stated her goal that SpaceX will become the “most widely used space transport company in the -- let’s call it the solar system” by 2100.

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