Mojave Airport houses one of the world's largest aviation scrap yards and has been used as a location in numerous TV shows and films, including "Die Hard 2" and "Waterworld."
There's a lot more scrap today after testing of a rocket motor by Scaled Composites LL C (SC) exploded when on test. Bearded near genius publicist Richard Branson and Jimi Hendrix obsessed Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen have formed a Space tour company with commercial spaceflight pioneer Burt Rutan who owned SC. SC would build a fleet of commercial vehicles dubbed SpaceShipTwo for Virgin Galactic.
Bearded Branson has sunk US$200 Mn of other people's money into a proposed fleet of Rutan's spaceships to send paying tourists some 62 miles above Earth for $200,000 to experience the view from space and five minutes of weightlessness. Be - jersied Branson told a trade show the new ship would be ready within a year and, after a year of flight tests, would have its first commercial launch in 2009.
Northrop Grumman Corp. owns 40 % of SC and recently agreed to acquire the rest of it. The deal is awaiting regulatory approval and should close next month.
2 people were reportedly killed instantly in the explosion in the explosion at 2:34 p.m. PDT (10:34 p.m. BST time) and 4 others were rushed to a local hospital. One of those died following surgery, according to the Los Angeles Times. The dead were named as Eric Dean Blackwell, 38, Charles May, 45 (who had just re-joined the company on Monday) , and Todd Ivens, 33, all employees of Scaled Composites, by deputy coroner, John Van Rensselaer.Fire crews waited several hours before approaching the scene because of the extreme danger.
"We just don't know" why the explosion occurred, Rutan said at a news conference. He noted that nitrous oxide (which was being used) usually is "not considered a hazardous material."
The accident occurred during a test of the flow of nitrous oxide through an injector during testing components for a new rocket motor for the SpaceShipTwo. The chemical fuel was at room temperature and under pressure, Rutan said.