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SpaceX rocket malfunctions and explodes during 'complex' test

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No one ever said rebooting spaceflight was going to be easy. The SpaceX team might know that better than anyone, especially on a night like this: one of the company's experimental F9R rockets malfunctioned in a test flight over McGregor, Texas and automatically aborted by self-destructing. Thankfully, the system kicked in before the rocket could veer off course, so there were no injuries (or near-injuries, as SpaceX was quick to point out) and no damage was inflicted. At time of writing there's no word on just what sort of anomaly prompted the F9R to terminate its flight, but SpaceX plans to dig into the flight data to figure out just what went south.

Let's back up for a second here, though -- what is the F9R? You may have heard of SpaceX's Grasshopper, an experimental rocket that can blast off and land on its own retractable feet again. The F9R (and its three engines) was the original Grasshopper's successor, and has been in active duty since the Grasshopper was retired last year. While the loss of the rocket must've hit the SpaceX team hard, it shouldn't be too long before they resume testing: a second F9R rocket is currently being built.

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