Prototype NASA Moon Lander Explodes
Morpheus a write-off after test flight failure
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2012 4:20 AM CDT
Updated Aug 10, 2012 5:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – After NASA's amazing success with its Mars rover this week comes a setback. Morpheus, a prototype lander under development for missions to the moon and beyond, crashed and blew up during a test at Kennedy Space Center yesterday, reports CNN. Nobody was injured, but the $500,000 unmanned test lander was destroyed.

Morpheus had made 19 successful flights while tethered to a crane, but the crash came during the methane- and liquid-oxygen-powered lander's first free flight. Another prototype is under construction, and will be ready in a few months. NASA says failure is "part of the development process for any complex spaceflight hardware," and designers will learn from yesterday's crash.