The Project Morpheus vehicle has “experienced a hardware component failure” during a free-flight test and exploded after hitting the ground, NASA said in a statement.
The resulting fire was extinguished by firefighting personnel of the Kennedy Space Center, where the test flight took place on Thursday. NASA engineers are examining the test data in order to reveal the reason behind the failure.
The agency will release information about the cause of the crash as it becomes available, NASA said in a statement on its website.
Morpheus is a NASA-designed vertical test bed vehicle. It is aimed at demonstrating new green propellant propulsion systems, autonomous landing and hazard detection technology. According to NASA, it is large enough to carry 500 kilograms of cargo to the moon, such as a humanoid robot, a small rover, or a small laboratory to convert moon dust into oxygen.