For four consecutive days this week, the NASA Wallops Flight Facility postponed the liftoff of a suborbital rocket due to the presence of boats in its potential crash zone in the Atlantic Ocean.
Erring on the side of safety, it turned out, may not have been a bad idea in this case.
The rocket launched today at 4:36 a.m. but crashed 19 seconds later — or "ended prematurely," as a NASA press release put it — into that oceanic hazard zone.
"Range controllers detected a flight anomaly with the second stage Improved Malemute motor; the vehicle flew to an altitude of 27,000 feet and impacted about one nautical mile downrange," NASA said in the release.
No damage or injuries were reported. The hazard area had been cleared before the launch.
A NASA team is investigating the cause of the crash, and the agency said it will update the public as more information becomes available.
The Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket was testing new suborbital rocket technologies, including a deployment system for creating vapor clouds used to study upper-atmosphere winds.