November 27, 2013
Explosion At SpaceX McGregor Facility Rattles Central Texas
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Sleeping residents in McGregor, Texas were rattled awake late Tuesday night (Nov 26) by what was later confirmed as an explosion at SpaceX’s test facility in the Central Texas town.Initially, there was much confusion as to what the noise was and where it came from. People around the region reported hearing a loud noise followed by a vibration. But the incident was not only felt in McGregor. Residents some 20 miles away in Gatesville also reported hearing what sounded like a blast at around 10:30 pm Tuesday night.
“I was lying in bed, and then I heard a big boom-boom. And then the windows shook,” Kelli Patterson, a Gatesville resident, told KDH News.
Patterson said she thought the sound had come from a military training exercise at Fort Hood.
The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office investigated the explosions and shortly thereafter took to Facebook to calm local residents.
"Anyone that heard the loud boom and felt a rumble outside of McGregor can rest easy. It was two nitrogen filled tanks that over pressurized and ruptured at Space X. Sources are saying no one was injured,” the Department said on its Facebook page.
Fire and Emergency services also responded, but waited about three miles outside the area until they were cleared by SpaceX employees to enter the scene, according to WacoTrib.com.
McGregor Fire Chief Moe Spradley told WacoTrib.com that because nitrogen clears the air of oxygen, everyone had to wait until the gas dissipated before entering the area. He noted it was after midnight before emergency personnel had been given clearance.
On Wednesday morning, SpaceX officials issued a statement saying the explosion occurred during a “slosh baffle test” and that work had returned to normal at the facility.
“SpaceX will identify the root cause of the incident and make any adjustments necessary to avoid this kind of disturbance to the McGregor community going forward,” the statement read.
The McGregor facility, which was once home to the now defunct Beal Aerospace, is SpaceX’s main site for the Grasshopper test flight program. The spaceflight company also tests all rocket engines built at its Hawthorne plant at McGregor.