SpaceX Merlin rocket engine explodes during testing at Texas facility

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SpaceX suffered an explosion of one of its Falcon 9 rocket engines during qualification testing at its facility in McGregor, Texas, per The Verge. The failure resulting in the explosion occurred on Sunday, and the company is now underway with investigations designed to determine what went wrong that resulted in the incident.

The Merlin engine explosion did not result in any injuries to personnel, but the component was intended to be used during a launch late next year. Even so, it shouldn’t impact SpaceX’s launch manifest or plans going forward, according to the company.

For now, however, testing at the McGregor facility stand where the incident place is on hold while the investigation into the cause proceeds. Repairs might be completed before the investigation delivers its findings, however, and it will continue with its planned launches in the next few weeks while also running the investigation and sharing results publicly when appropriate. It’s also still testing other engines on a second stand located at McGregor.

SpaceX has had a very good year so far, with 16 total successful Falcon 9 launches – a great bounce-back from its more serious setback last September, when one of its Falcon 9 rockets exploded during pre-launch fueling with Facebook’s internet satellite on board.

SpaceX provided the following statement to TechCrunch regarding the issue:

On Sunday, November 4, SpaceX experienced an anomaly during a Qualification test set up of a Merlin engine at our rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. No one was injured and all safety protocols were followed during the time of this incident. We are now conducting a thorough and fully transparent investigation of the root cause. SpaceX is committed to our current manifest and we do not expect this to have any impact on our launch cadence.”