Headlines > News > Three people die in fatal explosion at Mojave Airport

Three people die in fatal explosion at Mojave Airport

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:48 am
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Scaled Composites Statement:

Scaled Composites, LLC is deeply saddened to report the loss of three of our colleagues. Eric Blackwell, 38, Glen May, 45, and Todd Ivens, 33, were killed by an explosion that occurred during a routine cold-flow test of the oxidizer system we’re developing for SpaceShipTwo. Three other Scaled employees were seriously injured and are hospitalized.

We are doing our best to take care of the families of the deceased as well as the injured and their families, and we hope you will join us in keeping them in your thoughts and prayers.

As you may imagine, the Scaled family is devastated by this event. As we grieve together, we are also beginning to gather up all of the information to determine what caused this accident. We are committed to learn all we can from this tragedy and move ahead.

Two people died instantly, four where flown to hospitals with critical injuries and one suffered minor injuries yesterday following a large fire and and explosion at Mojave Airport at 1430 local time (2130 GMT). This happened at a Scaled Composites motor test. The injured were airlifted to Kern Medical Center about 45 miles from the airport

A third person died Friday according to the nursing supervisor at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield.

On Friday three people remained hospitalized, two in critical condition, one in serious condition.

Firefighters said the explosion involved the highly flammable gas, nitrous oxide.
The gas is used to test rockets which Mr Rutan’s company is developing to offer tourists a chance to visit space.

Local TV showed pictures taken from a helicopter showing debris scattered over a wide area of the Mojave desert, north of the city of Los Angeles.

Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Mr Rutan – who was not at the site at the time – described the incident as a “very big deal”.

“We were doing a test of the propellant and flowing it through an injector to see how it flows. And we were doing a test that we believed was safe,” said Rutan.

“Incidents like this are very rare, ” said Mojave Airport General Manager Stuart Witt.

All of the victims are employees at Scaled Composites. The company is the builder of SpaceShipOne, the first manned private rocket to reach space.

Rutan was clearly left shaken by the loss of his workers and those injured.
He appeared emotional, hugging the airport manager and fire chief. His voice trailed off at times as he spoke to reporters.

“I just don’t know what to say right now, it’s way too early for me to understand why,” said Rutan.

The identities of the victims have not yet been released. Officials say they soon hope to determine the cause of the explosion.

A video is available on CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/07/27/spaceport.blast/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

New updates are available in our more recent news item:
http://spacefellowship.com/News/?p=2660

Feel free to discuss this in the forum…

previous 07:34 am
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