Experimental SpaceX Rocket Self-Detonates Over Texas

A small rung on the long ladder to Mars broke Friday, when a rocket test in Texas ended in a midair ball of fire.
(CNN) -- A small rung on the long ladder to Mars broke Friday, when a rocket test in Texas ended in a midair ball of fire.

Debris from the SpaceX F9R rained down from the flames onto an open field outside of McGregor.

The rocket self-destructed as a safety measure -- a common practice in the aerospace industry in unmanned craft. A hitch in the F9R test vehicle turned up during launch, and the "flight termination system automatically terminated the mission," SpaceX said in a statement.

"There were no injuries or near-injuries."

But it was a vivid firework for bystanders parked on a nearby country road -- and for their cellphone cameras. CNN affiliate KWTX reported the explosion on Friday and posted video.

The F9R has been successfully tested before, but SpaceX decided to push the limits this time, and it didn't work out, the company said.
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