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Space port blast kills three

An explosion at the Mojave Air and Space Port injures three people and kills three others.
SpaceShipOne in flight
SpaceShipOne, seen here, performed the first privately funded human spaceflight in 2004. On Thursday, a blast during testing of a follow-on vehicle killed three employees of Scaled Composites, the aerospace development company.
Jim Campbell (Aero-News Network)
SpaceShipOne in flight
SpaceShipOne glides back to Earth after its second flight into suborbital space.
Jim Campbell, Aero-News Network
July 27, 2007
T hree people have died from an explosion at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, about 80 miles north of Los Angeles. Two of the three died as a result of Thursday's blast, and a third person died today, a nursing supervisor at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield told CNN.

All six people were employees of Scaled Composites. Aerospace engineer Burt Rutan founded the aerospace development firm, which developed SpaceShipOne — an air-launched suborbital spaceplane that completed the first privately funded human spaceflight June 21, 2004.

The blast occurred during a test of nitrous-oxide-fueled rocket motor components for SpaceShipTwo — a craft designed to carry passengers into suborbital flights. The vehicle is being developed as a joint venture between Scaled Composites and Virgin Group Limited. At the time of the explosion, nitrous oxide was flowing through the motor's fuel injectors during a "cold fire test."

"We were doing a test that we believed was completely safe," said Rutan. "We don't know why it exploded."
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