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SpaceX rocket engine explodes during test, probe launched

09 November 2017

The accident was made public three days later on Wednesday and comes at a time when the company is experiencing an unprecedented rate of launch.

Recently, the company SpaceX has received official approval to reuse the first stages of their Falcon 9 rockets, which should greatly reduce the cost of production and the organization of launches for various space missions.

Due to contracts and regulations, SpaceX has notified NASA, The Federal Aviation Administration, the Air Force and other agencies of the incident. No one was injured and all safety protocols were followed during the time of this incident. All of its launches this year (and during the first several months of 2018) are scheduled to fly on the Block 4 variant of the rocket, which uses an earlier Merlin engine. Luckily, nobody was injured when the rocket exploded and now the company is conducting a thorough investigation into what caused the malfunction, according to the Washington Post. In a statement provided to the Post, SpaceX representatives said they didn't expect the explosion to affect the company's launch schedule.

At present, the secretive mission, dubbed "Zuma", is slated to launch on November 16, with a cargo resupply run to the International Space Station, CRS-13, now poised to fly from SLC-40 (returning launch operations to the launch site after more than a year) about three weeks later, on December 4.

The incident happened during a "qualification test" of company's next generation Merlin engine.

The company has three engine test stands at MacGregor: one for Merlin engines, one for the newer, more powerful Raptor engine, and another stand for upper-stage engines.

Less than two weeks before its next scheduled launch SpaceX suffered a setback.

The following year, another rocket exploded but this time it blew up on the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center and left Launch Pad 40 severely damaged.

The uncertainty comes from whether SpaceX's Falcon Heavy will fly this year, the complexity of the launch vehicle, and the fact that it has 27 engines in its first stage alone has made its official launch date hard to pin down.

Led by billionaire Elon Musk, SpaceX focuses heavily on rocket reusability and has successfully landed 19 of its Falcon 9 boosters since 2015.