Photo taken from a NASA video shows the Morpheus lander burning after the crash.
Cape Canaveral, Florida (FL Today) -- A prototype lunar lander was destroyed Thursday at Kennedy Space Center during its first free flight.
The Morpheus Lander, fueled by four tanks holding liquid oxygen and liquid methane, rose a short distance before keeling over on its side and landing with an explosion at its pad at the north end of the Shuttle Landing Facility.
Another explosion occurred about 10 seconds later, according to a video posted by Central Florida News 13.
NASA posted a short Twitter message saying the lander "experienced a failure, causing it to catch fire. No one was injured. Information will be released as soon as possible.
The Morpheus lander arrived at KSC late last month from its home base at Johnson Space Center.
A tethered flight was performed last week to check that all systems were working after the trip.
The program, funded by about $2 million this year, attempted a first free flight on Tuesday, but the engine cut off quickly after ignition.
The last Twitter messages posted this morning during fueling operations referred to a small leak being contained, but there is no indication yet if the failure could be related to a propellant leak.
The Morpheus project planned to perform about 16 flight tests at KSC over several months utilizing a newly built hazard field resembling a lunar landscape.
The lander was not equipped with a set of expensive autonomous landing sensors that were only to be added and tested after the lander demonstrated a series of successful free flights.