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« "Pulled The Plug"? | Main | Just Lucky »

Explosion In Mojave

No, I don't know any more than anyone else, but I fear very much that it's someone I (and we) know. There aren't that many people (though there are quite a few) developing and testing rocket engines in Mojave. An exploding nitrogen tank doesn't really narrow it down--I imagine that everyone (including the hybrid folks) are using those for blowdown pressurization systems.

Between this, and the reported problems with drunk astronauts and sabotaged equipment on ISS, it's been a very bad day for the space business.

I'll update as I get information.


Now the report is that it was Scaled. They were developing their own (hybrid--safe, right?) engine for SpaceShipTwo, though they had no previous propulsion experience. It's selfish of me, because he's the only one I know, but I hope that George Whittinghill (who was overseeing the project for Virgin Galactic) wasn't there. And this is an interesting development in light of Northrop Grumman's latest acquisition.

And this will certainly be a hot topic at AirVenture...

[Update at 8 PM EDT]

Here's the story. So we don't know if it was an overpressurization, or not.

There's less detail in it than the story originally reported on Fox News Channel.

Continuing to look for coverage.

[Another update a few minutes later]

This makes more sense. I'm hearing about a nitrous oxide flash explosion. That's probably what the early reports meant when they said a "nitrogen tank exploded." Nitrous is the oxidizer for the hybrid engine. One of those cases where laughing gas is no laughing matter. And again, evidence that hybrids are not quite as safe as advertised. Von Braun had a saying: "There's no such thing as a foolproof system, because fools are too ingenious." It will be interesting to see the post mortem and accident report on this one.

One interesting note. If this had been in flight, the NTSB and FAA would have been involved in the investigation. But I'm not sure that there is any legal requirement for a federal investigation into it, since it happened on the ground. I wonder if Scaled will ask for one? Certainly, it will be a factor in getting a launch license from AST now.

[8:20 PM EDT update]

Jeff Foust has a link roundup of local news reports.

[Update five minutes later]

As Jim Bennett points out in email, Jim Oberstar will make a lot of hay out of this, and no doubt demand more regulation, even though it was a developmental accident.

Gary Hudson emails that it's a black day for the business. Just coincidence, of course, but a 300 point drop in the Dow doesn't detract from the gloom.

Also, I now know the name of one of the fatalities, but it's for Scaled to make that announcement, not me. No one I know, but someone that I'm sure that many there know, and will miss.

[Update a few minutes later]

The pictures coming in look amazingly devastating. Apparently two tanks blew. As Gary Hudson points out (again in email), and most people are unaware, nitrous oxide can be a monopropellant, under the right circumstances. As earlier noted, calling it "laughing gas" can be quite misleading, but it's been overhyped for its safety partly by using that name.

I suspect that this is a major setback for Virgin Galactic, because they may have to go back to the drawing board for propulsion, for PR reasons if nothing else. On the other hand, it could be good news for some of the other propulsion providers. On the gripping hand, it wouldn't necessarily take that long to come up with a good liquid engine for the system, if Burt and Richard Branson are willing to go that route now.

[Update after 9 PM EDT]

CNN has a story up now, but not much new, and no comment yet from Scaled. This is in fact probably the biggest disaster in the company's history, and they may not have had a good PR plan in place to deal with it, though you'd like to think they would, given the nature of the business they're in. There was a session at the conference this past weekend on this very topic--how to prepare for such an eventuality.

[Update at 10:30 PM EDT]

Jim Bennett, founder and former president of the American Rocket Company (among other things), emails:

Unless it was on a test stand during a firing, it wasn't a hybrid system failure, it was a materials handling accident. The question will probably be, were they following the known handling procedures? This material has been handled for over a century, and it's pretty well understood by now how to do it. I'll be very interested to see the full information on what happened.

When we were working with N2O at Edwards there was a pretty complete handling protocol for N2O and we had to demonstrate our compliance for the pad testing safety review. The guys at Scaled are certainly professional -- even if they weren't working to the 127-1 they must have had a set of procedures that were reviewed for safety.

FAA may not have direct jurisdiction (it's a fire and industrial safety matter if it's at the plant) but it will probably demand the full report as supporting data to the SS2 license application.

[Friday morning update]

According to Space Today, the death toll is now three, all Scaled employees.

And the Bakersfield Californian has the names of those killed, though not the injured:

The victims were employees of Scaled Composites, the company that is working on the aircraft and helped build SpaceShipOne. Killed were Eric Blackwell, 38, of Randsburg, Charles May, 45, of Mojave and Todd Ivens, 33, of Tehachapi, according to the Kern County Coroner’s office.

Ironically, May had just come back to work for Scaled this week, after working for another propulsion contractor up through the end of last week.

Condolences to family and friends. They died in a great cause.

[Update at 9 AM EDT]

Uncharacteristically, the LA Times has the most comprehensive story yet.

Posted by Rand Simberg at July 26, 2007 04:41 PM
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OSHA is responsible for investigation of industrial accidents like this. EPA will also likely be involved to determine any environmental hazards. Also, being in California, CAL-OSHA will be working it as well.

AST would have an "interest" only if it was related to a engine test. But there are many ways this could have happened unrelated to an engine test. Nitrous oxide will explode if you have the right mixture with air and other substances. That is why its a rocket fuel.

Posted by Thomas Matula at July 26, 2007 06:06 PM

"It will be interesting to see the post mortem and accident report on this one.

Oh Jesus, only you would be dim enough to use that phrase right after two people died.

Posted by Anomynous at July 26, 2007 06:23 PM

That is kind of how the phrase is used. Welcome to the world of industrial accidents.

Posted by Itsame at July 26, 2007 06:35 PM

I doubt if "only" I would do it. And what's "dim" about it? It's necessary, both figuratively and literally.

Once again, an idiotic comment is "Anonymous." What a shock.

Posted by Rand Simberg at July 26, 2007 06:35 PM

To get the facts a bit straighter, the rocket engine isn't being developed by Scaled Composites, it's an existing design that they purchased from another other vendor, SpaceDev, Inc.

Relatively speaking, it is a very safe technology. Until we learn the details of the cause of the explosion, it's quite a bit premature to judge the engine design unsafe.

Posted by Carrick at July 26, 2007 07:03 PM

The SS2 propulsion system is wholly new, and not connected with the previous SS1 motor that was also developed by Scaled. SpaceDev was involved in the SS1 design, but Scaled was the "developer," not SpaceDev.

Posted by at July 26, 2007 07:09 PM

To get the facts a bit straighter, the rocket engine isn't being developed by Scaled Composites, it's an existing design that they purchased from another other vendor, SpaceDev, Inc.

Those aren't "facts," straight or not. It's a new design, being developed (at least until today) by Scaled. The engine used on SpaceShipOne doesn't have the thrust needed for SpaceShipTwo, and SpaceDev wasn't the sole developer of it.

Posted by Rand Simberg at July 26, 2007 07:12 PM

I live in Tehachapi (right near Mojave) and I've met a few of the guys from Scaled. Still not much info locally, hoping it's not someone I know. I saw one of the Kern county medical birds heading that way soon after it happened but it may have been coincidence.

The failure must have occurred while fueling or setup, I can't see anyone standing close enough to get killed during a test fire. Considering the number of failures in the government programs in the 50's and 60's, the US commercial rocket industry has been doing pretty well up till now.

Posted by Maxh at July 26, 2007 07:18 PM

Using electricity in your home used to mean installing knob & tube wiring. We still have some in ours. It's disconnected of course - the stuff was dangerous.

That doesn't mean we stopped using electricity - we just learned better ways to do it. The same will happen with hybrid engines.

Posted by Roger Strong at July 26, 2007 07:19 PM

Two words:



Nothing else needs to be said.

Posted by Akira at July 26, 2007 07:37 PM

Where do you live in Tehachapi (we're over on Cherry Lane ourselves)? I don't really have much to add, we were headed out with our XA-0.1 vehicle when it apparently happened. Definitely a sad day for those involved.


Posted by Jonathan Goff at July 26, 2007 07:40 PM

Its way too early to speculate what impact if any this will have on SpaceshipTwo.

And all rocket fuels are dangerous, that is why they are rocket fuel. Switching engines won't prevent similar accidents involving a different fuel.

Posted by Thomas Matula at July 26, 2007 07:54 PM

I think it is worth noting that since the start of the Space Age, there have been far more people die in on the ground accidents than have ever died in flight. Proabally easily exceeding a factor of ten.

Posted by Mike Puckett at July 26, 2007 08:11 PM

Make that on the ground launcher related accidents.

Not all on the ground accidents on the whole Earth.

Posted by Mike Puckett at July 26, 2007 08:14 PM

Make that on the ground launcher related accidents.

Not all on the ground accidents on the whole Earth.

Posted by Mike Puckett at July 26, 2007 08:14 PM

my memory fails me, but who was the engine contractor for the SpaceShipTwo project?

Posted by frank martin at July 26, 2007 08:15 PM

Scaled didn't contract it. They are developing it themselves.

Posted by Rand Simberg at July 26, 2007 08:17 PM

This is in fact probably the biggest disaster in the company's history, and they may not have had a good PR plan in place to deal with it, though you'd like to think they would, given the nature of the business they're in.

Please be patient. Even if they had a media plan in place, the people responsible for implementing it are probably in shock right now and the recent acquisition deal with Northrop Grumman would probably invalidate parts of it. I suspect there's a lot of communicating going on between Northrop and Scaled. There's also Virgin, which wasn't directly involved but definitely has an interest. They certainly have their own media plan (given that they're in the airline business) but the people responsible for implementing it are probably on the other side of the Atlantic. All this will take time to sort out. We'll be hearing soon enough.

Posted by Edward Wright at July 26, 2007 08:23 PM

Being "in the business", although I work jet turbine engines rather rockets, I have to say "safe" will always be a relative term. To the best of my knowledge, this may be a tragic first - the first fatalities related to hybrid rocket engines. Remember that solid fuel and conventional liquid rocket accidents have resulted in plenty of fatalities. I seem to recall one event - the explosion of a liquid fueled Russian rocket on the pad ~ 40 years ago, that killed hundreds. Solids have the horrible problem that, once ignited, they are almost impossible to turn off if something goes wrong (and I'm very distressed that NASA is planning solid boosters for their new manned launch vehicle).

Hybrid rocket engines are a relatively new technology, and there is going to be a sometimes painful learning curve. But IMHO, hybrid rocket engine technology is inherently safer than any conventional liquid or solid rocket technology currently known.

Travel by jet aircraft is almost unimaginably safe, but literally thousands of people died getting it there. It is tragic for those who lost their lives in today's accident and for their families. BUT, if we are going to make space access affordable and safe, hybrid rocket technology is currently our best bet.


Posted by tdracer at July 26, 2007 08:25 PM

ah. so its not subbed to x-cor or environment areospace.I wasnt aware of that change.

Do you know what was behind the decision to take on this rather significant piece of the system?

sorry to be a bother, but its not like were going to get clear detailed answers anywhere in the media...

Posted by frank martin at July 26, 2007 08:27 PM

The choice of propellants creates a safety baseline better than which the system as a whole cannot get -- that is to say, no system is going to be safer than the individual propellants that are chosen for it. If you use a liquid oxidizer for a hybrid that also happens to be a monopropellant under some conditions (also true of H2O2 as well as N2O) the it is never safer than a monoprop system using the same propellant. If you have chosen a hybrid primarily for operational safety, then that feature of the oxidizer becomes a safety consideration.

However, the system will not be made safer by switching from a hybrid to a liquid motor, so there's no reason to believe that Virgin will desire that change.

Posted by Jim Bennett at July 26, 2007 08:53 PM

From what I've heard there is considerable controversy over proper credit for the SS1 hybrid-engine. And the bad-blood between SC and SpaceDev over that controversy may have something to do with SC now developing the SS2 engine all by themselves. I wouldn't be surprised if when all the information finally is revealed about this tragic accident it also sheds more light on the SS1 feud.

Posted by Brad at July 26, 2007 10:30 PM

First let me caveat by saying that I know that this particular report on a Chicago radio station is not true (Burt was in Oshkosh) but these idiots here reported that Burt Rutan was one of the ones killed in the blast today.

Somebody needs to send correct information out as in the vacuum of space (read the space between some journalist ears) any number of wild and stupid things are said.

I was in Mojave just day before yesterday (surprised Jon G) and was out at our solar trailer at the wind park. It has been very hot and windy there and I wonder if heat and or static electricity might have been involved?

Posted by Dennis Wingo at July 26, 2007 10:34 PM

One small note. In 1980 when I was working at the Space Vector Corporation (sounding rockets), we had a test failure during our vibration tests at the Hughes facility at Edwards. It was Cal-OSHA, the state safety guys, that were in the middle of the failure investigation (when the 250 lb aluminim slug on top of our rocket was launched about 300 feet in the air through a roof and back down through the same roof at a different location after the separation system failed positive!). I would expect Cal-OSHA is still involved and would lead such an investigation.

Posted by Dennis Wingo at July 26, 2007 10:38 PM

Hi All,

Here is an article with some actual news in it by Alicia Chang.
Blast kills 2, injures 4 at spaceship firm's Mojave airport site
By Alicia Chang

8:23 p.m. July 26, 2007

[[[Aerospace designer Burt Rutan, who heads Scaled but was away, rushed back to Mojave. He appeared emotional, hugging the airport manager and fire chief, and his voice trailed off at times as he spoke to reporters.]]]


[[[Rutan said the blast did not involve a rocket firing but occurred during a test of the flow of nitrous oxide through an injector in the course of testing components for a new rocket motor for the upcoming SpaceShipTwo.

The nitrous oxide was at room temperature and under pressure, Rutan said.

He gave little other information about the test, but said it had been done safely many times during the SpaceShipOne program and had been done once before for the SpaceShipTwo program.]]]

Posted by Thomas Matula at July 26, 2007 10:48 PM

Hi All,

Below is the CAL-OSHA publication on response to an accident from their policy manual.

California is one of the states that has an OSHA approved plan in place and so CAL-OSHA will likely be leading the investigation of the accident. If California did not have a plan then OSHA would have investigated automatically since it was a fatal accident. EPA may take an interest in the investigation IF it appears an environment hazard was created and so the results may end up impacting future EIS for space facilities. And of course OSHA will be interested in the results in case any recommendation or regulations are needed to prevent future accidents using such systems, but that depends on the report. Since this was not flight related AST would not have a direct interest.

Since this involved their engine test stand I would expect a delay in engine development for SpacehipTwo, not necessary because of the engine design, but simply because of the need to rebuild the test stand and add any improvement or procedure changes that will be recommended by the report. I expect it will probably be a few months at least depending on how long it takes CAL-OSHA to determine what happened and why.

NG buy out should help Scaled Composites since it gives then access to NG legal and financial resources to help them get back on track.

I also would expect to see Scale go ahead with SpacehipTwo itself and then just wait for the engine to be ready. Its not unknown to have an airframe ready to fly before you have the engine for it. It occurred in the past with a number of craft, including if I recall, the X-15 so its not that usual.

Posted by Thomas Matula at July 26, 2007 11:31 PM

Hey jon,

I live out on Lupine ave. in the Oak Knolls area off of Tehachapi woodford. When schools in I spend most of my time in Bakersfield attending college.

Any of you guys know how easy N2O is to set off? From what I remember in chemistry it's fairly stable by oxidizer standards. The news articles said the accident happened when they were testing the rocket's components and the gas was at room temperature. What would it take to set it off in those conditions?

Posted by Maxh at July 27, 2007 01:41 AM

They are now reporting 3 dead and 3 injured:

Posted by Vincent Cate at July 27, 2007 05:41 AM

From my layman's point of view the fact that NO2 can detonate under certain conditions at least neutralizes the benefits of a NO2 hybrid engine over, say, a LOX/Kerosene engine.

Posted by Gert van Spijker at July 27, 2007 05:56 AM

I didn't know about N2O's ability to detonate. Here's what Wikipedia says about this (to me, this doesn't sound much different than the dangers involved in the storage and handling of H2O2):

While normally largely inert in storage and fairly safe to handle, nitrous oxide in liquid form can decompose energetically or even detonate if strongly 'provoked'.

Liquid nitrous oxide acts as a good solvent for many organic compounds; liquid mixtures can form shock sensitive explosives. Contamination with fuels has been implicated in a handful of rocketry accidents, where small quantities of nitrous / fuel mixtures detonated.

There have also been accidents where nitrous oxide detonation in plumbing has led to the detonation of large tanks.

Posted by Jeff Findley at July 27, 2007 07:53 AM

As the news I have read indicates they were trying to get higher flow rates, they might have had an injector failure. I do not know if they were using pumps on the test stand, but if so the pump is another possible point of failure. Once something breaks it isn't too hard to imagine various combinations of high pressure release, combustion and explosion.

The other thing we know is there was shrapnel flying about so we know the tanks failed. (My readings seem to indicate there were two) Probably one tank took out the other. The question then is how the first tank failed.

On the other hand it could be something as simple as tank material failure, over pressurization or as ugly (and unlikely) as someone taking a potshot.

There are just so many things that can kill you in this business.

Posted by Dale Amon at July 27, 2007 08:15 AM

Akira said:

"Two words:
Nothing else needs to be said."

Oh please, people die everyday just bringing you food to stuff your face with. What these people did was no more heroic.

Posted by X at July 27, 2007 10:23 AM

Pushing boundaries that you know can kill you is heroic.

Anonymous slams against the dead is the epitome of cowardness.

Posted by Cecil Trotter at July 27, 2007 11:29 AM

Seems odd that they were close to it during the test. Wouldn't it be normal to set up a test and then go behind that protective barrier before the test started?

Posted by X2 at July 27, 2007 12:22 PM

Vincent, with regard to N2O hybrid vs. LOX/Kerosene engines, one factor to consider is the operating temperature of the oxidizer. Cryogenic temperatures increase the complexity of your engine which in turn increases your operating costs and failure modes. N2O is subject to decomposition, but that requires high temperatures or a catalyst; it does not appear to have happened in this case. My own engines use hydrogen peroxide as the oxidizer; my gut feeling is that N2O is safer.

Posted by John Joganic at July 27, 2007 12:26 PM

Seems odd that they were close to it during the test. Wouldn't it be normal to set up a test and then go behind that protective barrier before the test started?

The explosion may have occurred prior to the start of the test. We really don't have enough information to speculate about, at this point. There will be an investigation, and then we'll know what happened.

Posted by Rand Simberg at July 27, 2007 02:05 PM

Do we even know there was an ignition? I mean, an exploding tank of argon can kill you with shrapnel.

As a side note, I've read in various places that N2O may form dense solid phases like silica (SiO2), with which it is isoelectronic, at very high pressures (GPa at least). This would be a very high-energy phase and its sudden "melting" into normal N2O when the pressure was let off could release a great deal of energy very quickly. My understanding is that you need to go to way higher pressures than one would use in rockets, however.

Posted by Carl Pham at July 27, 2007 02:47 PM

"Seems odd that they were close to it during the test. Wouldn't it be normal to set up a test and then go behind that protective barrier before the test started?"

It will be.

Apparently, they had done this sort of flow testing before without incident, but mistakenly considered this material safe enough that it wasn't necessary to remove the people during testing.

Posted by Matt Filler at July 28, 2007 12:11 AM

What is truly striking is how easily the hard learned lessons from over 50 years of launch vehicle engineering development and manned spaceflight can so easily be forgotten, even to the point of arrogantly ignoring the most fundamental safety practices (e.g., Q-D). Apparently these days all it takes to garner credibility is media hype and a committed following of armchair engineers and hobbyist rocketeers. Frankly, the fact that this accident could even be allowed to happen is an outrage, and this company's amateurish practices need to be fully scrutinized by the appropriate Government agencies, most specifically the FAA and the California State Fire Marshall. Statements have been released in the past that this is a risky affair and lives may well be lost. That is the attitude of madmen that have no business participating in this emerging industry. Their bold arrogance aside, should these businesses really have a “license to kill”?

Let’s get it straight people, Scaled and VG are not pushing any new frontier, they are developing a business to sell souped-up airplane thrill rides to the likes of Paris Hilton. And they have leveraged mankind’s intrinsic need of exploration to cloak that simple reality. Some small progress may occur as a consequence, but only because of the business area they are working in. Fact is, they are in it to make a profit – at minimal expense and investment, like any other business..

Privatizing space travel so far has the appearance of a fool’s endeavor, being mostly led by people with no more qualification to participate other than having a large checkbook. Should any group with true professional expertise ever gain a financial foothold and enter the arena, all this foolery will be embarrassingly obvious. Unfortunately, it appears this emerging industry will be killed by these wannabe rocket scientists before it has a real chance.

The victims of this tragedy trustfully relied on the competence of their leadership. I hope the relatives of the poor souls that were so needlessly and uselessly lost, and those victims maimed and hurt have enough sense to sue Scaled’s preverbal rear ends off. Sickening.

Posted by RKM at July 28, 2007 09:54 AM


The technicians conducting the test had a combined total of 75 years working with NO2. They were trained professionals who understood very well the dangers of NO2. They also knew the risks of their profession. Some of them died that day. Your post shows your ignorance of the business and the people working in it. Thankfully it seems you are in the extreme minority.

Posted by at July 28, 2007 04:32 PM

They were trained professionals who understood very well the dangers of NO2.

Wow! Maybe that was the problem! They were trained to work with NO2, but were working with N2O.

Or maybe you need to learn the difference between those two very different chemicals?

Posted by Paul Dietz at July 28, 2007 09:55 PM

What is truly striking is how easily the hard learned lessons from over 100 years of aviation engineering and development can be so easily ignored, even to the point of not bothering to be informed about them in the first place. For example, witness the comment by “RKM” above.

Apparently these days all it takes to garner attention is to lurk over blogs like Transterrestrial and nurse one’s resentments, until an opportunity comes by that guarantees an audience for one’s bile. Frankly, the fact that RKM even allowed himself to use such needlessly provocative language is outrageous, and his amateurish invocation of agencies that have no jurisdiction in an industrial accident like that at Scaled needs no further scrutiny.

A statement was made by “RKM” that somehow the routine disclaimers of businessmen in a hazardous industry are evidence of their “arrogance.” Witness the attitude of a bitter individual so blind with conceit that he is smugly satisfied to offer such a questionable, petty point in support of his argument. His arrogance aside, should his argument really have a “license to credibility?”

Let’s get it straight people, RKM and alike individuals are not pushing any humanitarian principle, they are peddling a low-budget morality of entitlement and of elaborate class resentments, so that underemployed scribes like himself can invent a place of esteem for themselves where none presently exists. Some small progress may occur as a consequence, but only if RKM’s catty words were put in a more appropriate venue; any sociology thesis, for example.

Condemning private space travel so far has the appearance of knee-jerk prattling, being mostly led by people who’ve never heard of the N.A.C.A., of the chaotic history of aviation records broken – and the accompanying list of airman lives lost - in early aviation, of the contrasts between the American and the European methods of researching that “fledgling” transportation system. Should any truly professional investigator ever desire to profile the NewSpace movement, all the tedious nonsense proffered as meaningful criticism will be embarrassingly obvious.

Fortunately, it appears that this emerging industry has the support of most Americans, who historically are quick to find fault with any failure – and just as quickly root for the courageous individual who perseveres in spite of it.

The very victims of this tragedy are callously invoked in a self-contradictory narrative that on the one hand condemns “thrill rides for Paris Hilton” and on the other sanctimoniously pooh-poohs “irresponsible” entrants to “an emerging industry.”

I hope that RKM will come to his senses and realize that there are more appropriate venues and times for criticism. Certainly, less sickening ones.

Posted by William Turnbow at July 29, 2007 11:32 PM

Letter to Blog
What happened in the Mojave Desert at the scaled composite is a tragedy. We are now going to see what kind of man Mr. Burt Rutan is.

What do I mean by this? Well for starters, I am a machinist and I was working for Moller for three months as a volunteer in the hope of a paying job become available. Moller is the inventor in Davis California developing a V.T.O.L Aircraft.
I at the time I was living in Novato California, the distance was 80 miles one way and 160 miles round trip.

In the whole time I was working at Moller’s company, he never came up to me and tanked me for my free time that I was giving him, he never came to give me five dollars for lunch or gave me ten dollars for gas money.

There were only around eight employees working for him at the time. In my mine Mr. Moller is a cheap person.

I hope Mr. Rutan is not this kind of person. Oh by the way after I quit, Moller sent me a letter and a toy’s model of his V.T.O.L aircraft thanking me for my work (a little late).

Getting back to Mr. Rutan, the first thing he is going to have to do after the funeral of his dead workers is to have Himself, Richard Branson, and Mike Melvill meet with the six families of his injured and dead employees and give them at least one million of dollars per family for the three lost, and of curse pay for all funeral an medical expenses. May be some thing like two millions for the dead employees and at least one million for the injured ones.

Now why do I say this? The families will get their own lawyers and sue Scaled Composite and Richard Branson’s British Airway out of existence. Those lawyers know that Richard Branson is paying the bill, for Spaceship Two, and the employees were working on the Rocket System when they were killed.

This tragedy hits hard for on me because I was thinking of sending my Resume to Scaled Composites before the accident happened. That could be me with my face blown off out in the desert.

1. If you have any stock in British Airways, please sell it now.
2. I will send a letter to Scaled Composites, letting suggesting them what they have to do,
so they do not get sued out of existence.
3. I wander if the rich are going now to (to now ) pay there $200,000 dollars for fifteen
minutes in space?
4. I hope and want that Mr. Rutan succeed, because we need a private space businees, so
I hope he follows my advice.

Posted by Al Gagnon at August 2, 2007 08:27 PM

As a relative of one of the lost, I have confirmed that Scaled Composites had done this NO2 test the week before and the tanks over pressurized then. I think maybe that weakened the tanks, made of carbon composites, and it exploded when overpressurized again. The family does not want to sue SC, and the company has been absolutely wonderful.

Posted by RLC at August 2, 2007 08:39 PM

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