With the world making tremendous progress in the space research domain, indeed the sky seems to be the limit. However, contrary to popular believes, not all space attempts are successful. An example of this would be the explosion that occurred on the 4th of November during a test of a SpaceX Merlin engine in McGregor, Texas.
The explosion occurred during a test of a ‘Block 5’ Merlin engine that will be used in a future generation of Falcon 9 rockets. The incident occurred during a ‘LOX drop’ test, in which an engine is filled with liquid oxygen fuel and tested for leaks. The engine did not fire during this test. What happened was at some point during the test, the liquid oxygen ignited. The test bay where the explosion took place is expected to take two to four weeks to repair. Falcon 9 rockets that are currently in operation utilize the ‘Block 4’ Merlin engine.
It is to be noted that this isn’t the first such incident. Such investigating accidents have occurred in the past as well. In September 2016, a Falcon 9 exploded on the launch pad during a routine preflight test. The rocket and its payload, the Amos-6 communication satellite was both destroyed in the process. On a positive note, lessons were learnt from the past failures. This time adequate safety protocols were followed. That is why no one was injured in the explosion that occurred last Saturday. May safety measures be followed in the future as well as the scientific world explores more and more in the space.