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SpaceX's next-gen Falcon 9 engine explodes during 'qualification test'

10 Noviembre 2017
SpaceX's next-gen Falcon 9 engine explodes during 'qualification test'

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. The spacefaring giant has had a record run this year with as many as 16 successful missions, most ever done by the company in a year.

A SpaceX engine test failure at a rocket development facility in Texas has prompted an investigation into the incident but is not expected to impact launch schedules, the company said Wednesday. The problem shouldn't delay any of SpaceX's launches; the company's near-term and early 2018 missions were all scheduled to use the Block 4 version of the Falcon 9 with its well-established Merlin 1D (improved) variant.

SpaceX has suspended engine testing while it investigates what caused the incident, which didn't injure anyone, the Post added. Alternately, of course, it could have been a one-off issue caused by a defect in this specific engine.

An explosion on Sunday (November 4) rocked SpaceX's rocket-development facility at McGregor, Texas. 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. "We are now conducting a thorough and fully transparent investigation of the root cause". "SpaceX is committed to our current manifest and we do not expect this to have any impact on our launch cadence".

A source told Ars Technica the explosion occurred before the engine was sacked and happened when liquid oxygen (LOX) was added to the engine to check for leaks.

All Falcon 9 rockets launched today use a design called block-four - a kind of "model year" for the rocket system. The testing for the current engines in operation will resume once the testing stand has been repaired. "We can make all the block-fours we want", the source said.

It's now unclear what caused the Sunday explosion but an investigation into the malfunction is underway, according to the Post.

Then, in September 2016, another Falcon 9 experienced a rapid unscheduled break down; again, no one was killed or hurt.

The reuse of rockets and spacecraft will slash the cost of spaceflight, leading to greater exploration opportunities, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said.