Blast kills three at Mojave Spaceport, California

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Friday, July 27, 2007

File:Mojave spaceport.jpg
Mojave Spaceport
Image: Californiacondor.

Three people were killed and another three seriously injured in a blast at Mojave Spaceport, located in California, United States. The blast occurred on Thursday at 2:34 p.m. PDT (UTC-7) while Scaled Composites was conducting cold flow test of a rocket engine.

According to Tony Diffenbaugh of the Kern County Fire Department, two of the victims died immediately in the blast, while the third succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.

"Our units arrived on the scene at a remote test site in the northeast portion of the airport. What they found was six victims of an apparent explosion with various traumatic and burn injuries," Diffenbaugh said.

Burt Rutan, founder of Scaled Composites, said a press conference: "We just don't know" why the explosion occurred, nitrous oxide usually is "not considered a hazardous material."

Scaled Composites is in a partnership with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic to build SpaceShipTwo, which hopes to become the first commercially available passenger spaceflight for space tourism.

The accident comes just days after Northrop Grumman announced it would increase its stake in Scaled Composites to 100%.