It's rare that NASA fails even as it launches tens of rockets in a year, but when it does, it certainly makes news. Unfortunately, yesterday was one of those days. An Alliant Tech Systems ALV-X1 suborbital rocket carrying two NASA hypersonic experiments was destroyed shortly after liftoff from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Friday.
The launch occurred 22 August at 5:10 a.m. Eastern Time. The anomaly that caused the failure occurred approximately 27 seconds into the flight, according to NASA. Officials in a Friday news conference said that the rocket had strayed outside of set boundaries and the decision was made to destroy it.
The launch marked the first flight of the ALV-X1. Onboard the nearly 17-metre tall rockets were NASA's Hypersonic Boundary Layer Transition and the Sub-Orbital Aerodynamic Re-entry Experiment payloads.
NASA said no injuries or property damage were immediately reported following the launch failure. While most of the debris from the rocket is thought to have fallen into the Atlantic Ocean, NASA said it had received conflicting reports of debris being sighted on land.
"NASA is very disappointed in this failure but has directed its focus on protecting public safety and conducting a comprehensive investigation to identify the root cause," NASA said in a press release. "NASA is assembling a multidiscipline team, along with the rocket's maker Alliant Tech Systems, or ATK, of Salt Lake City, to begin the investigation promptly."