A Falcon 9 reusable (F9R) rocket designed and manufactured by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, commonly known as SpaceX, exploded midair during a test flight soon after lift-off at the company's flight facility in McGregor, Texas.
The incident occurred on Friday, Aug. 22, and SpaceX issued an official statement to confirm the rocket explosion and the reason that caused the accident. SpaceX revealed that the company piloted a test flight for its three-engine version of the F9R test vehicle, which developed an anomaly soon after lift-off. A glitch was detected in the flight's termination system, which resulted in the explosion and ended the mission.
The company's statement also indicates that although the rocket exploded, it remained in its designated flight path during the test and also following the flight termination. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official was present during the incident. SpaceX confirmed that the explosion of the unmanned rocket did not result in any injuries.
"With research and development projects, 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," per John Taylor, the spokesperson for SpaceX. "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."
Elon Musk, the company's chief executive officer took to Twitter and posted the incident and says that "rockets are tricky."
SpaceX takes advantage of its two-stage of Falcon 9 rocket to launch commercial satellites and for NASA's resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The company is testing the F9R development vehicles, a one-stage version that has landing legs, which the company hopes can be reused. Musk previously indicated that reusability is important as it will allow the company to reduce costs. The company also intends to deploy the landing legs design to the Falcon 9 rockets.
SpaceX is booked for the launch of the AsiaSat 6 communications satellite soon. The company is also scheduled to launch a Dragon cargo ship to the ISS Sept. 19. It is not clear if the recent incident will have any possible impacts on these upcoming launches.
SpaceX also confirmed in its statement that company will issue more details regarding the incident once they have analyzed full flight data.