SpaceX rocket engine explodes during test at Texas facility

09 November, 2017, 21:22 | Author: Oscar Goodwin
  • Merlin engine testing

Two of the facility's test bays were damaged, but nobody was harmed according to SpaceX.

The new engine model is more powerful and meant to replace the engines on its current Falcon 9 rocket system. Thankfully, no one was injured, but the company has suspended engine testing pending a further investigation.

Despite blowing up an experimental upgrade to its go-to rocket engines, SpaceX says it can continue its record-setting year. No one was hurt, though CEO Elon Musk may have sustained very light bruising to the ego. That's double SpaceX's launch count from a year ago and a frequency rivaling that of its biggest competitors.

A Merlin rocket engine exploded Sunday at SpaceX's test facilities in Central Texas.

SpaceX was scheduled to launch Falcon9 rocket powered by Merlin engine at least three more times this year and the current explosion has caused worries about the success of its upcoming mission - a national security mission, which is scheduled for next week from Kennedy Space Centre.

"All safety protocols were followed during the time of this incident", said a company spokesman, John Taylor. In a statement provided to the Post, SpaceX representatives said they didn't expect the explosion to affect the company's launch schedule.

An explosion on Sunday (November 4) rocked SpaceX's rocket-development facility at McGregor, Texas.

Musk has actually pulled several improvements, like uprated engines and the titanium grid fins into earlier generations of the Falcon 9 Block 4. The rocket exploded during a routine test but destroyed the engine, rocket and the payload that it was due to launch to space a few days later.

Whatever the cause, the testing bay in which the Merlin engine was attached to did not fare well.

According to Ars Technica, the explosion occurred before the engine was lit during a process called a LOX drop where liquid oxygen is added to the engine to determine if there are leaks.

A Falcon 9 rocket launches with cryogenic fog trailing it into the sky on January 14, 2017. The SpaceX team doesn't know if the engine itself was what exploded, just that something did within the test bay. The testing for the current engines in operation will resume once the testing stand has been repaired.

"This isn't going to have any impact on our launches this year or next year".

Block 5 engines haven't flown yet. Experts said that this engine was never used in flight.

Then, in September 2016, another Falcon 9 experienced a rapid unscheduled break down; again, no one was killed or hurt. The company also lost a payload in 2015, and failed to ferry a "Star Trek" actor's ashes to space in 2008.

This year also saw SpaceX doubling the number of launches.

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