Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
FRIDAY, 25 APR 2014
12:36 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Science
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
NASA's Morpheus lander in fiery crash at Cape Canaveral
Reuters
A+ A-

CAPE CANAVERAL, United States: A small NASA lander being tested for missions to the moon and other destinations beyond Earth crashed and burned after veering off course during a trial run at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, officials with the U.S. space agency said.

There were no injuries after the prototype, known as Morpheus, burst into flames near the runway formerly used by NASA's space shuttles.

The insect-like vehicle, designed and built by engineers at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, had made several flights attached to a crane before Thursday's attempted free-flight.

Morpheus' engines, which burn liquid oxygen and methane, appeared to ignite as planned, lifting the 1,750-pound (794 kg) vehicle into the air. But a few seconds later, Morpheus rolled over on its side and plummeted to the ground.

NASA video showed the vehicle engulfed in flames and then rocked by a spectacular explosion, presumably due to the fuel tanks rupturing.

"Failures such as these were anticipated prior to the test, and are part of the development process for any complex spaceflight hardware," NASA said in a statement.

An investigation is under way, the statement added.

Project Morpheus began in partnership with privately owned Armadillo Aerospace, which is developing re-usable, suborbital vehicles that take off and land vertically.

NASA, which has spent about $7 million on the project over the past 2-1/2 years, is interested in developing technologies that could be used to fly cargo to the moon and other future missions beyond Earth orbit.

Project Morpheus was an example of what the former project manager called ""Home Depot engineering" - low-budget projects that use existing resources and partner with non-traditional aerospace companies.

"The Morpheus lander is kind of our poster child. It's one of our first attempts to do these kinds of projects," former project manager Matt Ondler said in an interview with Reuters last year.

"Instead of building some elaborate test structure, you go to Home Depot and build something very quickly that gets you 80 percent of the answer and allows you to keep moving forward," he said.

Morpheus arrived at Florida's seaside space center in July for three months of increasingly rigorous test flights, including automated landings in a mock moonscape, complete with craters and boulders.

The lander was designed to deliver about 1,100 pounds (500 kg) of cargo to the moon, NASA said on its Project Morpheus website.

Technologies being developed include a propulsion system that uses liquid oxygen and methane -- green fuels that could be manufactured on other planetary bodies, NASA said.

The accident happened as NASA scientists were still hailing the Mars rover Curiosity's descent and landing on the Red Planet earlier this week as a "miracle of engineering."

 
Home Science
 
     
 
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Thursday April 24, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
For Christians, blessed are the dividers
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
An Iran deal is close, but we’re not there yet
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS