SpaceX rocket engine explodes during test at Texas facility

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/11/10 2:17:58

US aerospace firm SpaceX suffered a rocket-engine explosion during a test of its next-generation model on Saturday at the company's test facility in the US state of Texas.

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

SpaceX is now "conducting a thorough and fully transparent investigation of the root cause," it added.

The explosion occurred on Saturday during a test of SpaceX's next generation Merlin engine "Block 5" at the SpaceX's facility in McGregor, Texas, according to space and astronomy news website, Space.com.

Falcon 9 rockets that are currently in operation utilize the "Block 4" Merlin engine, so the company doesn't expect the failure to cause any launch delays.

A SpaceX representative said that only Block 5 engine testing would be suspended at the facility, according to The Verge, a tech news and media network.

"When Falcon Heavy lifts off in 2017, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit over 54 metric tons (119,000 lb) -- a mass equivalent to a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage," the company said on its official website.

"Its first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft," it said.

The setback comes after the California-based company conducted 16 successful missions in 2017, twice as many as its previous high in a calendar year. Also, SpaceX has landed this year 13 of those rockets back on Earth after launch.

To date, SpaceX has returned and landed a Falcon 9's first stage 19 times on land and at sea. Such landings are part of SpaceX's efforts to develop fully reusable rockets, which the company believes could bring down spaceflight costs.

This is not the first time SpaceX has experience failure investigation.

On Sept. 1, 2016, a Falcon 9 blew up on the launch pad during a routine preflight test, destroying the rocket, its payload and the launch pad, but no one was hurt.

In 2015, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket exploded a couple of minutes after lifting off from Cape Canaveral en route to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. No one was on board and no was injured.

Posted in: AIR & SPACE

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