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Reusable Rocket Ok After Catching Fire

Sun., May 19, 1996

A prototype reusable rocket, intended as a forerunner of the space shuttle’s eventual replacement, briefly burst into flames Saturday after completing its first flight.

However, damage was minor and the flight was a success, said officials for the Delta Clipper-Experimental Advanced rocket program.

The 42-foot upgraded version of the first rocket to take off and land vertically, lifted off and soared 800 feet, maneuvered sideways for about 350 feet, then descended on its four columns of blue exhaust flames.

But after it touched down on the landing pad, the bullet-shaped rocket was enveloped in flames and smoke. It remained in an upright position.

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