The Morpheus prototype, known as 'the beetle' burst into flames during a trial run at the Kennedy Space Center. The insect-like vehicle, designed and built at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, had already been tested several times attached to a crane but this week was to be its first attempt at flying
The engines appeared to ignite as planned and lifted the 794 kg vehicle into the air, however, just a few seconds later Morpheus turned to one side and crashed down to the ground, exploding as the
fuel tanks ruptured.
The project, undertaken in conjunction with privately owned Armadillo Aerospace has cost NASA around $7 million over the past two and a half years. It is hoped to develop it as a vertical take-off and landing transporter that could be used to fly cargo to the moon's surface.