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NASA moon lander crashes, bursts into flames

NASA moon lander crashes, bursts into flames

PanARMENIAN.Net - NASA 's experimental Moon lander crashed and burst into flames seconds after takeoff due to a hardware fault, the US space agency said, prompting an investigation but no casualties, AFP reports.

The low-cost Project Morpheus lander prototype, designed to carry cargo to the Moon and other space destinations, lifted off the ground successfully but then failed its first autonomous free-flight test at the Kennedy Space Center.

Fire crews rushed to extinguish the flames of Morpheus, large enough to carry 1,100 pounds of cargo, such as a humanoid robot, a small rover or a small laboratory to convert moon dust to oxygen.

"A hardware component failure, which prevented it from maintaining stable flight," was to blame, NASA said, noting that its engineers are examining test data to determine what caused the failure.

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

"What we learn from these tests will help us build the best possible system in the future."

NASA has so far spent $7 million on the project, which aims to provide an environmentally friendly vehicle to land on the Moon, asteroids and other surfaces in outer space.

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