NASA Test Planetary Lander Burns And Crashes

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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