This week, a rocket engine belonging to Elon Musk’s company SpaceX exploded during testing. Now, the company has confirmed both the incident and that there is an investigation going on. During a Sunday test, a next generation Merlin engine caught fire. Fortunately, there were no victims but now, the company has to figure out what could have caused the unexpected explosion.
This is actually not the first explosion SpaceX had to deal with in recent years. Back in 2015, their falcon 9 rocket exploded just after taking off from Cape Canaveral. It was supposed to deliver some cargo to the International Space Station but never arrived. Fortunately, nobody was injured as there were no passengers on board. More recently, in September last year, yet another Falcon 9 rocket went up in flames. It happened before a test, while it was being fueled on the launch pad.
SpaceX has problems with its hardware
According to a Wednesday response from the company, it seems like this incident is not going to affect its launch cadence. Still, there is a thorough investigation going on which has the purpose of discovering what exactly caused the explosion. Later that day, a spokesman for the company explained that the engine that exploded was a new one. So, no other tests will be done on those engines until the company hasn’t figured out what actually happened.
This issue comes as SpaceX is going through its most successful year ever. This year, it has successfully launched 16 times, which is double than last years. The company is not only launching commercial satellites anymore. The company is sending sensitive satellites for the Pentagon into space. It is now also delivering cargo to the International Space Station. Moreover, it is planning to start delivering astronauts there starting next year.
The next Falcon 9 launch is scheduled to take place next week, from the Kennedy Space Center.
Image source: flickr