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Rocket with hypersonic Army weapon explodes after launch

This image courtesy of Alaska Aerospace Corporation shows an illustration of a new launch pad at the Kodiak Launch Complex.

AP

KODIAK, Alaska -- A rocket with a payload that included an experimental Army strike weapon exploded after taking off from an Alaska launch pad.

Defense Department spokeswoman Maureen Schumann said the system exploded less than four seconds after launch. No one was hurt.

She said this was the second flight test of the system; the first, in November 2011, was launched from Hawaii and was deemed successful.

Witnesses told KMXT-radio they saw the rocket lift off, nose down and explode.

The Kodiak Launch Complex is 25 miles from the city of Kodiak.

The Army's Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, a rocket-launched glider, was in the nose of the rocket.

The Army's environmental statement says the small craft is designed to be lofted to near space before diving into the atmosphere and gliding to its target.

According to Reuters, the weapon was developed as part of the military's "Conventional Prompt

Global Strike" program which seeks to build a weapon that can destroy targets anywhere on earth

within an hour of getting relevant data and approval to launch.