Scaled Composites Forms Support Fund for Explosion Victims

Explosion Kills Three at Mojave Air and Space Port
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. (Image credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill.)

The privatespaceflight firm Scaled Composites has formed a support fund to aid the victimsand families of those affected by an explosion last week at the firm's Californiadesert-based facility.

ThreeScaled Composites workers were killed, and three others injured, in a July 26explosion at thefirm's facility at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California duringan oxidizer system test for the company's suborbital SpaceShipTwopassenger spacecraft.

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

The firmhas set up the Scaled Family Support Fund to help the families of its employeesin the wake of the accident, a Monday statement added.

ScaledComposites workers Todd Ivens, 33, Eric Blackwell, 38, and Glen May, 45, werekilled in the explosion, which occurred as they and other coworkers wereconducting a routine cold-flow test of the oxidizer system for SpaceShipTwo. Afuneral for May is set for Aug. 3 in Collierville, Tennessee, Scaled Compositesofficials said.

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

Led byveteran aerospace designer Burt Rutan, Scaled Composites built the Ansari XPrize-winning SpaceShipOne pilotedsuborbital vehicle as well as a series of other record-breaking aircraft.

The firm iscurrently developing the air-launched SpaceShipTwo and its White Knight Twocarrier aircraft as part of an effort to supply passenger suborbitalspaceliners to the British firmVirgin Galactic. Like the reusable SpaceShipOne, which flew twice in twoweeks to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize in 2004, SpaceShipTwo is slated torely on a hybrid rocket engine that uses nitrous oxide as an oxidizer and arubber-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 HealthAdministration (OSHA), according to the firm and other press reports.

"Thisis an incredibly hard time for all of us," Scaled officials said in astatement. "We continue to ask you to keep those people and families whowere hurt or have died in your thoughts and prayers."

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

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


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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.