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NASA test planetary lander burns and crashes

Thursday - 8/9/2012, 2:10pm  ET

By SETH BORENSTEIN
AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - 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.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)