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VIDEO: NASA lander crashes and burns in test flight

The Morpheus prototype crashed just seconds in to its first untethered test flight yesterday.

Image: AP Photo/NASA

A SMALL NASA landing craft crashed and exploded shortly after taking off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida during a free flight test.

In a statement, NASA said that the planetary landing vehicle suffered a “hardware component failure” after lifting off the ground during the test.

“This failure prevented the vehicle from maintaining stable flight,” the space agency said. “Failures such as these were anticipated prior to the test, and are part of the development process for any complex spaceflight hardware.”

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The Morpheus vehicle is a prototype in NASA’s research for a cheap, environmentally-friendly craft that can land on other planets. A spokesperson said that the craft has performed over a dozen tests at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, but was tethered to a crane during the tests prior to this Kennedy flight.

NASA says it has enough parts to build a second Morpheus craft and hopes to be testing again “before too long”.

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