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Lack of training cited in Mojave spaceport blast

Scaled Composites fined over deaths

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California occupational safety inspectors have concluded that Scaled Composites LLC's failure to properly train workers about the dangers of nitrous oxide was a contributory factor to the explosion which last July killed three workers at the company's Mojave testing facility.

The victims were testing a rocket motor for SpaceShipTwo - Virgin Galactic's passenger vehicle - when the oxidant nitrous oxide "exploded during a cold-flow test", according to a spokeswoman for the California Department of Industrial Relations. Three other workers were injured in the incident.

The state subsequently levied three citations against Scaled, the San Francisco Chronicle explains, including two that were rated "serious". It fined the company $25,870, which it must pay within 15 days or lodge an appeal.

Scaled said it has "cooperated with the state and has since made changes to its workforce training and procedures".

The company's executive vice president Doug Shane said: "Scaled Composites regrets that this accident occurred and we have expressed our condolences to the victims and their families." ®

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