Monday, 20 November, 2017

SpaceX Rocket Engine Explodes During Testing At McGregor Texas Facility

SpaceX Rocket Engine Explodes During Test Report Two SpaceX Merlin 1D engines sit on a test stand at the company's rocket-development facility in McGregor Texas. Credit SpaceX
Frank Williams | 09 November, 2017, 20:06

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.

"No one was injured and all safety protocols were followed during the time of this incident", the company said in a statement.

The company said that "we conducted a thorough and completely transparent investigation into the root causes of the explosion".

SpaceX has suspended engine testing while it investigates what caused the incident, which didn't injure anyone, the Post added.

According to the report, the explosion happened when the engine was filled with liquid oxygen fuel and tested for leaks. A first stage landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Landing Zone 1 is expected shortly after liftoff.

SpaceX is no stranger to rocket accidents.

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Nobody was hurt in the event, but it did damage the facility. The testing for the current engines in operation will resume once the testing stand has been repaired.

The 1st stage Merlin test stand at McGregor is composed of two test cells.

SpaceX is also targeting before the end of this year for the premiere flight of the highly anticipated three-core, 27-engine Falcon Heavy from KSC, though no official date has been confirmed. One of the two cells was damaged during the anomaly and will need about two to four weeks of fix, as SpaceX noted.

Merlin engines, which power Falcon 9 rockets, are built in Hawthorne, California and transported to McGregor for test fires, both individually and later when mounted onto rockets. Last year, one of their rockets exploded on the launchpad, destroying an expensive satellite and damaging the pad. All of its launches this year (and during the first several months of 2018) are scheduled to fly on the Block 4 variant of the rocket, which uses an earlier Merlin engine.

SpaceX told SpaceFlight Insider that SpaceX would only suspend further qualification testing on the Block 5 Merlin engines until the investigation is complete and that the company was not suspending testing on the Block 4 engines or on other tests in Texas.

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