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NASA test planetary lander burns and crashes

  • Justin Maki, Mars Science Laboratory Imaging Scientist, JPL, left, and Jordan Evans Engineering Development and Operations Manager. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • Michael Malin, principal investigator, Mars Descent Imager on MSL, Malin Space Science Systems looks at a data set of the the first 360-degree panorama in color of the Gale Crater landing site taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, as it is processed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

WASHINGTON: A prototype NASA lander crashed and burned in a test flight at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA spokeswoman Lisa Malone says it appears that the methane-powered Morpheus lander is a total loss. She says nobody was hurt in the unmanned test Thursday afternoon, and the flames were put out. NASA video shows the spider-like vehicle taking off and then seconds later tilting and crashing back to the ground.

The test lander was built mostly with low-cost, off-the-shelf equipment at Johnson Space Center in Houston. It was an attempt by NASA to use cheaper, more readily available and environmentally friendly rocket fuel. NASA was considering it as a potential lander for places like the moon or an asteroid.

The lander last week started flight tests in Cape Canaveral, Fla. It would lift off, hover and then land.

 
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