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NASA destroys rocket, setback to hypersonic experiments

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NEW YORK (BNS): In yet another setback for NASA's aeronautics programme, a sounding rocket had to be destroyed on Friday, just 27 seconds after launch.

"We knew the risks of launching payloads on a first-of-a-kind rocket, and we acknowledged those from the beginning of the development of these payloads," said Juan Alonso, director of the fundamental aeronautics programme of NASA. He told journalists that the two experiments which were part of the test had no backups, ""These are one of a kind payloads."

The launcher developed by Alliant Techsystems Inc (ATK) was detonated when it veered off course after an early-morning launch from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The rocket was set to run a challenging suborbital trajectory, reaching a maximum altitude of 370 kilometers, to test the Hypersonic Boundary Layer Transition (HyBoLT). HyBoLT was an experiment to measure airflow and heat when flying at, over the speed of sound. The study is a key input for the ongoing efforts to develop hypersonic flights. At the end of the experiment HyBoLT would have been dropped into the Atlantic Ocean.
The second experiment SOAREX was to be deployed after HyBoLT was dropped. SOAREX comprises of three probes, among them SCRAMP, a new cylindrical spacecraft shape that would automatically orient itself for re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

"I would call it a very big disappointment, but not a setback," Kent Rominger, vice president at ATK said. This is the second disappointment for NASA in just a month. On August 2, NASA's SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket failed minutes after take off. Falcon 1 was carrying Trailblazer, a Pentagon supported satellite, besides solar sail and a microgravity biology test.

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