While the blast did not cause any injuries, according to Ars Technica, two of the test bays reportedly sustained damage.
A company spokesman shared a statement:
“All safety protocols were followed during the time of this incident,” SpaceX’s John Taylor provided. “We are now conducting a thorough and fully transparent investigation of the root cause. SpaceX is committed to our current manifest, and we do not expect this to have any impact on our launch cadence.”
— Alan Boyle (@b0yle) November 9, 2017
Officials say all of SpaceX’s launches scheduled for this year and into 2018 use an earlier model of the engine, which also exploded during its test phase, but company officials maintain their launch schedule won’t be affected.
Currently, all missions are said to be launching using the Block 4 rocket.
The engine being tested will eventually fly on the upgraded Block 5 version once astrophysicists work out the kinks.
The stand where the Merlin engines are tested is built with two rocket bays, and though one will require weeks of repair after Sunday’s incident, company reps. said the other should be ready to use again in the next few days.
Investigators say they believe the explosion occurred before the engine ignited; during testing, liquid oxygen is added to a rocket engine to check for leaks in a procedure knows as a LOX drop.
Reports show, in the most recent accident, during this phase, the fluids in the engine ignited, causing the engine to explode.
SpaceX is reportedly halting testing the Block 5 engine until they can pinpoint exactly why this happened and correct the problem.
When the Block 5 engine rocket is ready for liftoff, records show it will be used to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS).
— Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) November 9, 2017
Their success could mean more NASA astronauts in space, which could translate into more jobs in the Space City.
Stay tuned, Houston.