NASA Morpheus crash, explosion: Lander fails in free flight test at Kennedy Space Center

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A prototype NASA lander crashed and burned in a test flight at Kennedy Space Center.

   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. It would lift off, hover and then land.

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