NASA Investigates Rocket Failure

The space agency said that no injuries have been reported but warned that rocket debris could be hazardous.

K.C. Jones, Contributor

August 25, 2008

1 Min Read

NASA is investigating why a suborbital rocket flew off course and had to be destroyed.

The rocket carried two hypersonic experimental payloads as it lifted off at 5:10 a.m., EDT, Friday from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Safety officials destroyed it after it veered off course about 27 seconds into the flight.

NASA announced that most of the debris fell into the Atlantic Ocean and it has not received any reports of injuries or property damage. However, some people have reported seeing debris on land. That debris could be hazardous and people who believe they have found rocket debris should not touch it, NASA said. Instead, they should report their discoveries to the Wallops Emergency Operations Center. NASA said that the agency is disappointed because of the failure but its priority is on public safety and it has deployed a field response team. Alliant Techsystems (ATK), of Salt Lake City, is investigating the cause of the failure, with support from NASA. ATK built the rocket, a prototype, which carried two satellites. It was destroyed before reaching an altitude of 12,000 feet. NASA reportedly spent at least $17 million on the flight. NASA announced Friday that it would take a comprehensive investigation to uncover the root cause of the failure. Representatives referred to the incident as an anomaly and said during a press conference that they believe the investigation will be complete -- and the cause identified -- relatively quickly.

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