NASA Was Having A Great Week Until Today

With the highly publicized Mars landing of the rover Curiosity now starting to produce some awesome pictures of the Martian landscape it looked like everything was going NASA’s way. Today that changed. Cosmic Log reports:

A prototype lander for future moon missions went awry and blew up today during its first free-flight test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the space agency reported. The $7 million Morpheus lander project is an experiment aimed at testing autonomous navigation systems and other spaceflight technologies.

Morpheus has undergone a series of less ambitious tests, including its first tethered flight at Kennedy Space Center last Friday. During that test, the craft was suspended from a crane on a safety tether. Today’s test was aimed at pushing the envelope further by letting the methane-powered craft off its leash.

There’s video of the explosion.

It kind of reminds me of the section of the movie “The Right Stuff” when they were showing the pre-Apollo rockets failing.

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  • herddog505

    While this is certainly an expensive disappointment, I don’t get too worried or upset. We’ve come a long way from “our rockets always blow up and our boys always botch it”, but the fact of the matter is that, even with decades of experience in building rockets and spacecraft, even with computers to assist in design and modelling, any aircraft much more complicated than a paper airplane is a tremendously complex device that is fighting the absolutely pitiless force of gravity. One little failure of one little component and down she goes.

    They’ll get it right.

    Incidentally, I was shocked to learn that the latest generation of the Atlas rocket has a friggin’ RUSSIAN main engine. How times have changed: the rocket we build to blow those despicable commies off the face of the earth now gets off the face of the earth courtesy of a Russian engine.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_V

    [EDIT] It also occurs to me that, while a failure isn’t a great thing, at least they failed building a spacecraft to go back to the Moon. I was surprised; I thought that NASA was pretty much solely in the business of Muslim outreach and proving that global warming is going to kill us.

    • Commander_Chico

      Yeah, there was a post on this minor failure, but no post on the major success of Curiosity. I was up to watch it live on streaming video from JPL – it was outstanding.

      • retired.military

        Sheila Jackson lee wanted to know if curiosuity landed near where the US flag was put by the astronauts. Isnt it great when a representative from the Housec doesnt know the difference between the moon and Mars. Sorta like the other House guy who thought Guam was going to physically capsize when the new marines got there.

        • jim_m

          And neither of those are more bizarre than the predictions of AGW doomsayers that the left so readily believes. I see the North Pole still has some ice remaining on it.

      • I guess we forgot to do a post on Curiosity. It was covered extensively on the tech blogs, but we should have had a post on it.

  • GarandFan

    Hmmm…..wasn’t Morpheus the villain in “Forbidden Planet”?

    • No, that was Morbius. You might be thinking of Morpheus in the Matrix films…

      Anne Francis sure was hot in “Forbidden Planet”, wasn’t she? Strange to think of her as 80, when she passed away last year.

      http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0004282/mediaindex

      • 914

        Yes, She was..

        Robby was pretty cool too!

  • Looks like a roll sensor wasn’t properly responding…

  • Gmacr1

    And that boys and girls, explains why I am totally against unmanned nearspace exploration. BTW, word has it that the mighty F1 engines that drove the Saturn V are coming back as the MPU for future heavy lift rockets so don’t get your knickers to bunched up over the Atlas using the RU engine.