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Private Spacecraft Explodes in Test

Science File | IN BRIEF

August 14, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A team taking a low-budget stab at the $10-million Ansari X Prize for private manned spaceflight had a setback Sunday, when their rocket malfunctioned and exploded after shooting fewer than 1,000 feet in the air.

No one was hurt in the test of the Rubicon 1 just south of Olympic National Park in Washington. The 23-foot-long, 38-inch-diameter spacecraft held three dummies in place of astronauts. The $20,000 rocket will have to be completely rebuilt, said Eric Meier, a mechanical engineer and co-founder of Space Transport Corp. of Forks.

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