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SpaceX Rocket Explodes During Test Flight

Aug. 23, 2014 - 03:45AM   |  
By AARON MEHTA   |   Comments
US-SPACE-ISS
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on April 18. (BRUCE WEAVER / AFP/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO — A SpaceX rocket exploded Friday during a test launch outside of McGregor, Texas.

The test flight was part of SpaceX's experimentation with reusable boosters. The launch involved a Falcon 9 vehicle configured with three rocket engines.

Video shot by onlookers captured the rocket as it went up, seemed to hover in mid air, and then explode in a fireball The video was shared by local TV station KWTX.

On his personal Twitter account, company founder Elon Musk tweeted "three engine F9R Dev1 vehicle auto-terminated during test flight. No injuries or near injuries. Rockets are tricky..."

A more formal statement from SpaceX, posted on KWTX's website, noted the fact the rocket is currently in development.

"Throughout the test and subsequent flight termination, the vehicle remained in the designated flight area," the statement reads. "There were no injuries or near injuries. An FAA representative was present at all times."

While the explosion is unlikely to have a direct impact on SpaceX's certification for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, it provides an opening for critics of the company.

Competitor United Launch Alliance has argued that SpaceX has yet to prove reliability, an issue also raised by Air Force officials as a reason for the long, in-depth certification process.

SpaceX officials have said they expect to be certified for EELV missions on the Falcon 9 by the end of the year.

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