There was an explosion during a trial of a SpaceX rocket mechanism on Saturday, November 4 at the company’s test center in McGregor, Texas, according to a report received by Space.com.
SpaceX to investigate the incident
No injury was recorded, and all safety protocols were observed during the time of the explosion,” according to the report. “We’re presently conducting an intensive and open investigation of the underlying cause of the incident” . The company believes the investigation will last for weeks.
Explosion will not affect launch schedules
“The explosion happened in the course of a trial of our Merlin motor, ‘Block 5’ which going to be part of the Falcon 9 in the future,” a source informed Space.com. The current rockets , Falcon 9 use the ‘Block 4’ Merlin engine. Thus the explosion won’t have any effect on the company’s scheduled launches.
“SpaceX is focused on its current manifest and there is no way this incident will halt our upcoming launches,” the report said.
The explosion occurred during one of our “LOX drop” test, in which a motor is loaded with cryogenic fuel (liquid oxygen) and tested for leakages. The engine did not blaze during the trial. Later, the fuel ignited: the company is still not sure if it was the engine that exploded, according to the source. The test facility where the blast happened may take about a month to repair.
SpaceX launch schedule has been really tight this year. SpaceX has made 16 successful launches in 2017 – which is twice the number in a year schedule. All the missions except three used the Falcon 9 first stage, for repairs and reuse.
The refurbishment and reuse of rockets will cut the cost of spaceflight, which is beneficial for exploratory purposes. Space founder and CEO Elon Musk said.
SpaceX has a determined investigating team
The company has experienced investigating incidents in previous years. In September last year, a Falcon 9 exploded during a pre-launch test, destroying the rocket and the Amos-6 communication satellite. SpaceX investigated the issue and discovered there was a defect in one of the helium canister in the second stage liquid-oxygen fuel tank.
Another experience was in June 2015, when a Falcon 9 broke into pieces under 3minutes after takeoff. The company was able to trace the cause of the accident. No one was injured in either of those accidents.