3 killed, 3 injured in explosion at rocket test site in Mojave

Three workers were killed and three others were badly hurt Thursday afternoon in an explosion on the edge of Kern County’s Mojave airport during the test of a propellant system for a pioneering private spaceship.

The blast occurred at a private test site run by Scaled Composites, a company founded by high-profile aviation entrepreneur Burt Rutan.

In June 2004, the firm became the first business to launch a reusable manned rocket into space, a craft known as SpaceShip One.

Thursday’s explosion — whose sound was likened to a 500-pound bomb by a mechanic working several hundred yards away — is believed to have been caused by an undetermined operating flaw that ignited a tank of nitrous oxide.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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