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Rocket Explosion Kills Two At Mojave In California

The Scaled Composites test stand at Mojave where the explosion took place. This is an older Digital Globe image from the Google Earth database - that doesn't show all the structures that were damaged.
by Staff Writers
Mojave CA (AFP) Jul 26, 2007
A rocket exploded Thursday at an airport in the California desert, killing two people and seriously injuring four others, firefighters said. "There was an explosion on the Mojave Airport at 2:30 this afternoon (2130 GMT)," fire engineer Roberto Figueroa of the Kern County Fire Department told AFP. "There are two confirmed fatalities and four seriously injured."

"What exploded was a rocket," he said.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately known.

The airport is located 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Los Angeles.

The Mojave desert is the site of the aerospace company Scaled Composites, run by US engineer Burt Rutan, who in 2004 won a 10-million-dollar prize by launching a rocket to space twice within a two-week period.

Scaled Composites, which is currently working with British billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic to send tourists to space by 2010, did not answer AFP telephone calls late Thursday.

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Astrium Wins Study For New Vega Upper Stage
Bremen, Germany (SPX) Jul 26, 2007
Astrium has won a contract from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne to investigate concepts for a new upper stage for the European launcher Vega. The project is named "Venus" (Vega New Upper Stage). Currently under development, Vega is a small European launch vehicle which is scheduled for first launch in 2009. The study now awarded to Astrium is worth roughly half a million euros and will run for a period of 18 months.

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