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NASA test rocket explodes

Crash, bang at the Wallops

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A NASA rocket carrying two hypersonic experiments this morning exploded shortly after take-off from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the agency reports.

The Alliant Tech Systems ALV X-1 was carrying the HYBOLT experiment designed to "obtain unique high-speed flight data for fundamental boundary layer transition flow physics", plus the SOAREX payload which should have collected "data for atmospheric re-entry technology".

The rocket blasted off at 05:10 EDT (09:10 GMT), but went bang around 27 seconds after leaving the ground. NASA said: "Most debris from the rocket is thought to have fallen in the Atlantic Ocean. However, there are conflicting reports of debris being sighted on land. This debris could be hazardous. People who think they may have encountered rocket debris are advised not to touch it and to report it to the Wallops Emergency Operations Center at 757-824-1300."

The agency described itself as "very disappointed" at the failure but added it had "directed its focus on protecting public safety and conducting a comprehensive investigation to identify the root cause". It concluded: "NASA is assembling a multidiscipline team, along with the rocket's maker Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, of Salt Lake City, to begin the investigation promptly." ®

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