The Genesis return capsule crashed in the desert on Wednesday after its parachutes failed to deploy. The craft missed a mid-air retrieval meant to save the spacecraft from hitting the Earth.
“The capsule has suffered extensive damage. It has broken apart on the desert floor,” said an official on NASA TV. “Hopefully, there will be enough evidence to see what went wrong. Whether there will be enough science left inside remains to be seen.”
Teams are attempting to recover the craft. NASA has warned them that a “live mortar” or explosive charge designed to deploy the chutes may still be armed.
NASA officials at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California said that long-range cameras did not detect the parachutes that should have slowed the craft.
“There was no drogue chute or parafoil,” said a JPL spokesman. “Under those condition, the Genesis capsule hit the ground at about 100 mph.”
Apparently NASA didn’t attend the seminar in falling objects at the Wylie Coyote Institute of Desert Physics.