Project Morpheus is intended to be a “green” landed that could one day send crews to the moon or land on other bodies in space. But it appears to have stumbled a bit.
“During today’s free-flight test of the Project Morpheus vehicle, it lifted off the ground and then experienced a hardware component failure, which prevented it from maintaining stable flight,” NASA officials said in a statement. “No one was injured, and the resulting fire was extinguished by KSC fire personnel.”
In the video, the lander appears to lift off well but quickly destabilizes and turns nearly upside-down before crashing.
The lander is powered by liquid oxygen and methane, which are safer and much cheaper than traditional rocket fuels. Morpheus is also a test of a new automatic landing technology that is designed to avoid hazards on the ground by using lasers to pinpoint boulders or steep craters.