The California-based aerospace manufacturer and space transporter SpaceX is having a successful run this year. But according to latest reports, a SpaceX rocket engine has exploded during a test at company’s facility in McGregor, Texas. The explosion occurred during a qualification test of a SpaceX “Block 5” Merlin engine which was to be used during a Falcon 9 launch in late 2018.
Currently, Falcon 9 rocket uses the Block SpaceX said in a statement that no one was injured and all safety protocols were followed during the time of this mishap. The space agency also informed that they are conducting a thorough and fully transparent investigation of the root. The statement also said that SpaceX is committed to its current manifest and they do not expect this to have any impact on their launch cadence.
The unfortunate incident took place during a LOX drop test in which the engine is filled with liquid oxygen fuel and tested for any kind of leaks. At first, the engine did not fire. But in between the test, the liquid oxygen ignited and led to an explosion. SpaceX informed that the test bay where the explosion occurred might take two to four weeks to get restored. This was the first explosion case reported by SpaceX for this year. Earlier in 2016, a Falcon 9 rocket engine exploded during refueling at Florida launchpad. This year has been a great year for SpaceX.
Till now it has successfully launched 16 missions, and from those 16 launches, it has successfully recovered the rockets on thirteen occasions. In the upcoming weeks, two Falcon 9 missions are scheduled to take place and also there is a chance of launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket. The explosion of Block 5 Merline engine will not have much impact on SpaceX because the block 5 will be used for the late 2018 missions and will provide more thrust and improved landing ability to the upgraded rocket. So, SpaceX now can concentrate fully on investigating the matter and try to find out the reason behind the explosion. Till that time all block 5 engine testing at McGregor will remain suspended. But Block 4 testing will go on.