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Capitalism in space: An upgraded Block 5 Merlin engine, undergoing static fire testing at SpaceX’s Texas test facility, experienced what the company is calling “an anomaly.”
The current generation of engines, known as Block IV, have not been impacted by the failure and will continue to fly payloads for SpaceX customers, meaning the incident will not affect this or next year’s launches. That includes next Wednesday’s planned launch of a secretive payload for Northrop Grumman from Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A.
“We are now conducting a thorough and fully transparent investigation of the root cause,” SpaceX told FLORIDA TODAY. “SpaceX is committed to our current manifest and we do not expect this to have any impact on our launch cadence.” A company spokesperson said the anomaly occurred when liquid oxygen was being loaded into the engine during an operation known as a “LOX drop.” The tests are designed to root out any cracks or leaks in the engines.