As with so much technology, the development of rockets is trial and anomaly.
Fortunately, no one was hurt after one such anomaly was detected in the test flight of a SpaceX Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) rocket over McGregor, Texas, early yesterday evening.
As the local KWTX-TV reported, the rocket exploded within 38 seconds of its launch, after the mission controllers noticed what they called, yes, an "anomaly." The rocket self-destructed, as it is designed to do.
Footage shot by an enthusiast shows that it seemed to be soaring to the sky, before simply disintegrating.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, for whom SpaceX (which he also helms) is a project of considerable passion, took to Twitter to explain: "Three engine F9R Dev1 vehicle auto-terminated during test flight. No injuries or near injuries. Rockets are tricky."
It's unclear currently what particular trickiness this particular test-flight encountered.
Musk's statement, of course, brought out Twitter commenters, who offered, for example: "Come on, it's not rocket science!"
The only damage reported by KWTX were a few grass fires. In its own statement, SpaceX said the rocket remained at all times within the designated flight area and that a Federal Aviation Administration representative was present.
The statement added: "With research and development projects, detecting vehicle anomalies during the testing is the purpose of the program. Today's test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test. As is our practice, the company will be reviewing the flight record details to learn more about the performance of the vehicle prior to our next test."
It's worth noting that the history of rocketry is full of malfunctions and mishaps, some far more costly than others.
The ultimate goal of the SpaceX program is to get humans to Mars within a decade. It was never going to be easy.