Scaled Composites Forms Support Fund for Explosion Victims
Aerospace designer Burt Rutan talks as Kern County fire chief Michael Cody looks on during a news conference near the site of an explosion that killed three people and critically injured three others,Thursday, July 26, 2007, at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, Calif.
Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill.

The private spaceflight firm Scaled Composites has formed a support fund to aid the victims and families of those affected by an explosion last week at the firm's California desert-based facility.

Three Scaled Composites workers were killed, and three others injured, in a July 26 explosion at the firm's facility at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California during an oxidizer system test for the company's suborbital SpaceShipTwo passenger spacecraft.

"The outpouring of support form around the world has been incredible, and we can't thank you enough for all the support you have given us," Scaled Composites officials said in a statement posted to the firm's Web site on Saturday. "We're trying to do what we can to support the families during this tragic time."

The firm has set up the Scaled Family Support Fund to help the families of its employees in the wake of the accident, a Monday statement added.

Scaled Composites workers Todd Ivens, 33, Eric Blackwell, 38, and Glen May, 45, were killed in the explosion, which occurred as they and other coworkers were conducting a routine cold-flow test of the oxidizer system for SpaceShipTwo. A funeral for May is set for Aug. 3 in Collierville, Tennessee, Scaled Composites officials said.

The explosion also injured Scaled Composites employees Keith Fritsinger, Gene Gisin and Jason Kramb. As of Saturday, Fritsinger and Gisin were listed in critical condition, with Kramb in serious condition, the firm said.

Led by veteran aerospace designer Burt Rutan, Scaled Composites built the Ansari X Prize-winning SpaceShipOne piloted suborbital vehicle as well as a series of other record-breaking aircraft.

The firm is currently developing the air-launched SpaceShipTwo and its White Knight Two carrier aircraft as part of an effort to supply passenger suborbital spaceliners to the British firm Virgin Galactic. Like the reusable SpaceShipOne, which flew twice in two weeks to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize in 2004, SpaceShipTwo is slated to rely on a hybrid rocket engine that uses nitrous oxide as an oxidizer and a rubber-based fuel.

Meanwhile, investigations into last week's explosion are underway by Scaled Composites officials, as well as the Mojave spaceport and California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), according to the firm and other press reports.

"This is an incredibly hard time for all of us," Scaled officials said in a statement. "We continue to ask you to keep those people and families who were hurt or have died in your thoughts and prayers."

Click here for more information on the Scaled Family Support Fund or contact the firm directly here: ?

Scaled Family Support Fund
c/o Scaled Composites,
1624 Flight Line,
Mojave, CA. 93501