SpaceX rocket engine blows up during test

SpaceX confirmed that a new variant of its Merlin engine experienced "an anomaly" during a qualification test and exploded at its testing facility in Texas.
By Delila James | Nov 11, 2017
SpaceX's new rocket engine exploded Wednesday at the company's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas, according to a report by The Verge.

SpaceX confirmed the mishap in a statement saying that a new variant of its Merlin engine experienced "an anomaly" during a qualification test. The engine was intended for use during a Falcon 9 launch in 2018.

No one was injured in the blast and an investigation of the event is going forward, SpaceX said.

"We are conducting a thorough and fully transparent investigation of the root cause," said SpaceX spokesman John Taylor, in a statement to The Verge. "SpaceX is committed to our current manifest and we do not expect this to have any impact on our launch cadence."

Last year, one of the company's Falcon 9 rockets blew up in Florida before launch, destroying the rocket and the satellite it was scheduled to carry into space.

Nevertheless, SpaceX has had a successful year, launching 16 missions double the number the company performed in 2016. It also landed 13 rockets back on Earth for re-use.

Analysts were mostly unruffled by Wednesday's rocket engine failure.

"As long as it's not a major design flaw, then I wouldn't necessarily call it a setback," said Marco Careers, a senior space analyst at Teal Group, in a report by the Los Angeles Times. "I would say it's something that happens in the normal course of testing. That's the whole purpose of the testing program."

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