SpaceX Rocket Explodes During Test Flight

CEO Elon Musk’s response: “Rockets are tricky.”

SpaceX Rocket Explodes During Test Flight
Most Recent Successful SpaceX Launch, Falcon 9 carrying ASIASAT 8 on August 6th, 2014: "This marks the eleventh successful flight in a row for Falcon 9, and will be followed shortly by launch of AsiaSat 6 later this month." [Image courtesy of SpaceX]

A SpaceX rocket detonated Friday, shortly after the test vehicle launched from McGregor, Texas.

A successor to SpaceX’s Grasshopper prototype, the three-engine version of the F9R test rocket detected an anomaly and automatically terminated the mission. The company said there were no injuries, and a representative from the Federal Aviation Administration was present throughout the flight.

“With research and development projects, detecting vehicle anomalies during the testing is the purpose of the program,” the Hawthorne, California company said in a statement. “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.”

CEO Elon Musk also chimed in on Twitter: “Rockets are tricky.”

The accident is a reminder innovation comes with high stakes. Some players will succeed beautifully at solving big problems, but failure is always a possibility.

The following are photos from the scene tweeted by eyewitnesses.

BuzzFeed also created the following Vine of the event, sourcing the video from local news station KWTX.

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.