Video of unmanned SpaceX rocket self-destructing shortly after takeoff

This past Friday, SpaceX launched an unmanned, reusable Falcon 9R rocket (the successor to the Grasshopper) in McGregor, Texas. The rocket self-destructed shortly into its ascent.

From a SpaceX Twitter post:

During the flight, an anomaly was detected in the vehicle and the flight termination system automatically terminated the mission.

Throughout the test and subsequent flight termination, the vehicle remained in the designated flight area. There were no injuries or near injuries. An FAA representative was present at all times.

With research and development projects, detecting vehicle anomalies during the testing is the purpose of the program. Today’s test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test. As is our practice, the company will be reviewing the flight record details to learn more about the performance of the vehicle prior to our next test.

Here’s one video of the launch. Riveting. Can’t help but be thankful this was an unmanned rocket.



  • Moeskido

    As former-test-pilots-turned-astronauts have reminded us for decades, losses are part of the work. We have to be prepared to accept them and move on.

  • Tim W

    I don’t think anyone would volunteer to man a development project rocket. This is nice fireworks but nothing to be sad or worried about. I am sure that SpaceX is setup to learn a lot from this mishap.

  • James Hughes

    It took Edison about 10,000 experiments to create the correct components/configuration for the electric light bulb. One day one of his assistants asked him why he persisted after all the failed experiments. Edison said he had not failed once but that he had learned about the 10,000 things that didn’t work.

    Mysthbusters “Failure is always an option”

  • I have several friends in McGregor. They said it was scary to have that take place so close to their homes, but they were reassured by the FAA presence monitoring the operations. I’m surprised this doesn’t happen somewhere in no man’s land (some island, Area 51, etc.)

    • Moeskido

      No-man’s-land is a lot more expensive to run a big project from.

  • oops

  • This is why the capsules on man-rated rockets have escape systems.

    And one of the multiple numbers of reasons why the Shuttle was a compromised system and had to be retired.

    I’m not sure if even the original Shuttle design, with a fully reusable winged booster was safe in this regard, although both the booster and the orbiter were supposed to have jet engines for landing, so there was at least a chance for separation during launch followed by an emergency landing.

  • ti994apc

    You want failures with Test Vehicles so you can determine limits and make improvements. Its why they are “test” vehicles. The Saturn V has several mishaps before the finished product. Other rockets like Russian built Atlas V that ULA makes, does not get tested for concepts like re-usability. The article headline on this story is ridiculous. How stupid do they think the public is? When a rocket in the US becomes “manned” we will all know about it. We have manned test aircraft, but we don’t have manned test rockets.