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An explosion yesterday at SpaceX’s Texas test facility appears to have been planned and is part of the company’s investigation into the September 1 Falcon 9 launchpad explosion.
“The sound heard by residents was actually the result of a pressurization test at the McGregor Rocket R&D facility. These tests take place periodically at the site, and this particular test was part of the ongoing testing being conducted by our Accident Investigation Team,” SpaceX spokesman Phil Larson said in an email response to questions. “The volunteer fire department responded as a matter of procedure, but there was no damage to the site or injuries to any personnel.”
I would guess that they are trying to see if they can precisely duplicate the conditions that produced the September 1st explosion, including triggering new explosions in a reliable manner. If so, they would then know precisely what to avoid doing to trigger future tank failures.
Meanwhile, this story notes the successful first pressure tests of the carbon fiber tank that SpaceX is developing for its interplanetary spaceship. Not much information, though SpaceX has released some cool images of the tank being prepped for the test.