Feeds

Fatal explosion hits Virgin space programme

Three workers killed, three injured at Mojave spaceport

Top three mobile application threats

Three employees of a pioneering spaceship company were killed and another three badly hurt when a propellant system blew up during testing in California yesterday.

The explosion happened at Mojave Air and Space Port at about 2:30pm local time. It is believed to have involved a tank of nitrous oxide, to be used as fuel in the forthcoming SpaceShip Two rocket-plane.

SpaceShip Two is being developed by Scaled Composites, the company famous for winning the Ansari X-Prize in 2004 with a record-breaking pair of flights by the re-usable manned suborbital craft SpaceShip One.

SpaceShipOne

Private rocket-plane SpaceShip One in flight.

Company founder Burt Rutan briefed the media in an evening news conference, reported by the Los Angeles Times.

"We felt it was completely safe," said Rutan, apparently visibly upset. "We had done a lot of these [tests] with SpaceShip One."

Rutan said the test being carried out had not involved any ignition of fuel. It had been intended merely to investigate flow rates through certain equipment.

Asked why the explosion had happened, he replied: "We just don't know."

The new spacecraft, under development by Scaled Composites, will be much bigger than its predecessor and able to carry passengers as well as flight crew. The intention is to offer suborbital tourist trips in a collaborative venture with Richard Branson of the Virgin biz empire, under the name "Virgin Galactic".

SpaceShip Two has been shrouded in secrecy since its announcement last year, a condition which Rutan said would remain unchanged for the present. The new ship "won't be unveiled until it's ready to fly", he told assembled reporters. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.