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ExoLance
Fatal explosion at Mojave Airport
Updated: Fri, Jul 27, 2007, 6:54 AM ET (1054 GMT)
Originally Posted: Thu, Jul 26, 2007, 8:18 PM ET (0018 GMT)
Mojave Airport, California An explosion at a Scaled Composites rocket test stand at Mojave Airport in California Thursday afternoon killed three people and injured three others. The explosion, described as a nitrous oxide "flash" explosion, took place around 5:30 pm EDT (2130 GMT) Thursday at a test stand on airport property. The test stand is operated by Scaled Composites and the three people killed were all Scaled employees. Scaled founder Burt Rutan said that the workers were performing a "cold flow" test using nitrous oxide, but without an ignition system. The test had been performed a number of times in the past without incident. Scaled is developing a hybrid propulsion system for SpaceShipTwo, the commercial suborbital passenger spacecraft it is building for Virgin Galactic. Mojave Airport is an FAA-licensed spaceport and is home to a number of entrepreneurial space companies besides Scaled.
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