Official Statement on Mojave Spaceport Fire

Fire outside a Virgin Galactic hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Fire outside a Virgin Galactic hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The following statement was issued on The Spaceship Company’s Facebook page on Thursday:

“This afternoon, a small fire broke out on a pallet of scrap material in an outside area of the Mojave Air and Space Port near a building used by The Spaceship Company. The local fire department was quickly called in, and successfully extinguished the fire. All airport and tenant employees are safe and accounted for. As a precaution, because the fire was located in the proximity of an oxidizer storage tank, employees were briefly evacuated from nearby buildings. Airport and company officials are working to determine the cause of the fire.

Our sincere thanks go out to the local fire department team for their quick work.

– Stuart Witt (CEO and General Manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port) and George Whitesides (CEO of Virgin Galactic and of The Spaceship Company)

Editor’s Note: As has been raised in the discussion section of an earlier post, there’s a question of why scrap material (or any other flammable material) was anywhere near a tank full of nitrous oxide. In consulting with one expert who uses nitrous oxide, I was told that a blast could have possibly damaged everything within 1,000 feet. That’s basically two complete football fields with end zones plus another 93 yards. There are a lot of irreplaceable people and technologies within 1,000 feet of where that fire took place.