BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – It was a scary Friday night for SpaceX as a Falcon 9R rocket exploded shortly after launching during a test flight over Texas.
The private space company says the rocket blew itself up a few hundred feet in the air after a malfunction was detected. A bystander recorded the fiery explosion on their cellphone.
Dale Ketcham with Space Florida says the explosion may look bad, but the test rocket was serving its purpose.
"I thought it was great," said Ketcham. "You had a failure, which means somebody was trying to do something that hadn't been soon before. Hopefully they can learn from it and figure out a different way to build a better mouse trap that'll get us to Mars sooner."
SpaceX did have to delay its Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station by 24 hours, saying in a statement that even though the two rockets are different, they wanted to take additional time to review what caused the test rocket to explode.
"You're not going to want to have that kind of an incident occur when somebody is paying you and their payload is on top of your rocket," said Ketcham. "They're not going to pay you to put it in the Atlantic, they're going to pay you to put it into orbit."
The explosion also comes as the company is competing for a NASA contract to launch astronauts to the International Space Station. At this point, it's unclear whether this incident would have any affect on the awarding of that contract.
The Falcon 9 launch from CCAFS is now scheduled for 12:50 a.m. Wednesday, but SpaceX officials say that could chance depending on what they find in their investigation of the explosion.