The engine for the Falcon 9 rocket unexpectedly exploded during tests

SpaceX rocket engine explodes during test at Texas facility

SpaceX rocket engine explodes during test at Texas facility

The Block 4 engine has already been extensively tested and proven safe, so there should be no reason to postpone the rest of this year's launches. The company has launched 16 times successfully this year, doubling the number of its launches in a single year and tying the most number of launches by its chief rival, the United Launch Alliance, according to SpaceNews.

The explosion of the engine occurred at the test site in Texas on Sunday, November 5, no one was hurt.

The explosion, first reported by the Washington Post, happened during a "qualification test" of Merlin engine, which is supposed to be used in Falcon 9 rockets in late 2018. SpaceX has three engine test stands in use at McGregor: one for the Merlin line of engines, one for the newer and more powerful Raptor, and one dedicated to upper-stage engines. At that point, something caused the fluids within the rocket engine to ignite.

SpaceX is no stranger to rocket accidents. In September 2016, a Falcon 9 exploded on the launch pad during a routine preflight test, destroying the rocket and its payload, the Amos-6 communications satellite. SpaceX said one of them should be up and running within a couple of days, while the other may require up to four weeks of fix works.

SpaceX was testing an experimental new version of its Merlin rocket engine at the time of the blast, a company source who is familiar with the matter told Business Insider.

Two SpaceX Merlin 1D engines on a test stand at the company's facility in McGregor, Texas.

According to Ars Technica, the explosion occurred before the engine was lit during a process called a LOX drop where liquid oxygen is added to the engine to determine if there are leaks.

Musk has actually pulled several improvements, like uprated engines and the titanium grid fins into earlier generations of the Falcon 9 Block 4.

"This isn't going to have any impact on our launches this year or next year". However, testing of the Block 5 Merlin engine will be suspended until the cause of that ignition is found and fixed. This will delay the roll-out of that program until both the investigation closes and the badly damaged bay is repaired. Experts said that this engine was never used in flight.

Musk has said he eventually hopes to phase out all of his company's rocket systems, including the upcoming Falcon Heavy rocket, by building a totally reusable "Big F--ing Rocket" system created to colonize Mars.

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