SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk

No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area

SpaceX's Grasshopper rises 24 stories or 80.1 meters (262.8 feet), hovering for approximately 34 seconds and landing safely using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control. Pic: SpaceX

Elon Musk's SpaceX team watched a prototype rocket spectacularly burst into flames over the company's test flight area in Texas on Friday.

No one was injured in the explosion, the firm said.

SpaceX had been testing its Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) vehicle in McGregor, Texas. One observer captured video images of debris tumbling out of the sky following the destruction of the spacecraft, which is the successor to the Grasshopper.

The company said in a statement posted on its Twitter page that "an anomaly was detected" during the trial flight over the grounds of the SpaceX testing site.

It added:

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.

SpaceX said that the test had been "particularly complex". The vehicle was pushed to its limits to help the firm detect anomalies as part of an intensive research and development programme.

"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," it said. ®