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  SpaceX Merlin engine test failure (11.4.2017)

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Author Topic:   SpaceX Merlin engine test failure (11.4.2017)
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 38267
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-08-2017 10:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX is investigating why one of its rocket engines exploded during a test fire earlier this week at the company's facility in Texas, the Washington Post reports.
The explosion of the Merlin engine occurred Sunday during what the company called a "qualification test." No one was injured, but now the company founded by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk once again has to figure out what went wrong with its hardware, as it suspends engine testing during the investigation...

The company said Tuesday in response to questions that it is "now conducting a thorough and fully transparent investigation of the root cause" of the explosion. "SpaceX is committed to our current manifest, and we do not expect this to have any impact on our launch cadence."

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38267
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-09-2017 07:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More on the engine loss from SpaceNews:
SpaceX has yet to disclose specific details about the incident, which a company source said took place on a Merlin test stand that has two bays. One bay reportedly suffered damage that will take two to four weeks to repair, while the neighboring bay received only minor damage that can be repaired in days.

The incident, according to the source, took place not during an actual engine firing but during a troubleshooting activity called a "LOX drop" where liquid oxygen is flowed through the engine to look for leaks. It wasn't clear how this test led to the anomaly that damaged the engine and its test bay.

... Company sources say SpaceX can continue those launches, even while this investigation continues, because the engine that suffered the testing mishap was an upgraded version for the forthcoming "Block 5" version of the Falcon 9. The company is currently flying the Block 4 version of the rocket, and has not set a firm date for starting flights of the Block 5 version.

That would explain why the company is able to continue Falcon 9 launches even while the investigation, which may take several weeks to complete, continues, as the engine that failed is not used on existing versions of the rocket.

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