Super Strypi Rocket Explodes During Inaugural Flight From Hawaii

Thirteen satellites were destroyed in the launch.

An experimental U.S. military rocket broke apart Tuesday about a minute into its maiden flight from Hawaii's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai.

A video posted by a spectator shows the 67-foot Super Strypi rocket -- a technology aimed at providing a cheaper way of launching smaller payloads into space -- make a clean lift off before erratically spinning out of control.

In a statement Tuesday, the U.S. Air Force confirmed the ORS-4 mission "failed in mid-flight" after liftoff at 5:45 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time.

James Spellman Jr. of the U.S. Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center told The Huffington Post in an email Wednesday that it's "too early in the investigative process to speculate" about what may have caused the failure.

Thirteen satellites were destroyed in the crash, including the University of Hawaii's HiakaSat, a 121-pound satellite with a hyperspectral imaging camera to test new Earth observation technologies for military and scientific applications.

The Air Force’s ORS office, established by the Pentagon in 2007, spent more than $45 million on the ORS-4 mission before Tuesday’s demo flight, according to Spaceflight Now.

The inaugural flight was originally scheduled for October 2013, but was pushed back multiple times due to technology and timing issues, the Star Advertiser reported.

The University of Hawaii said in a statement that despite the mishap, the project is still a "tremendous success."

"About 150 students worked on the payload, a hyperspectral imager called HiakaSat," the university wrote. "All milestones for the payload were met and the students received real-world aerospace experience in building a sophisticated satellite."

Super Strypi, also known as SPARK (Space-borne Payload Assist Rocket - Kauai), was developed by Sandia National Laboratories, the University of Hawaii and Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Scroll down to watch a video and animation of the failed launch of the Super Strypi rocket:

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