A Dose of Common Sense, With A Side of Itself
The Mystery Remains
Apparently CalOSHA has issued their report, and it remains unclear what caused the explosion at Scaled last summer. Charles Lurio notes (as I've been saying for, well, forever, or at least since I heard about the proposal to go with a nitrous hybrid):
...largely because of its ability to self-detonate - nitrous oxide has every now and then created unhappy surprises whose causes are difficult or impossible to explain. This may turn out to have been the case at Mojave. If in the end no cause for that incident is identifiable, Scaled should perhaps consider an alternative oxidizer for its hybrid; liquid oxygen (LOX) may be less convenient to transport and manage but doesn't have nitrous' particular unpredictabilities.
It also performs much better, whether with hybrids or liquids. This is very bad news. If you don't know what caused an accident, it's very difficult to know how to prevent it from recurring. Even if it causes a delay in the schedule, I think that they will have to go to some other design, and I also think (as I've always thought) that they should subcontract it out to an established propulsion house, such as HMX or XCOR, who are right there on the field.
Maybe when Burt has recovered from his recent health problems, he'll be in better shape to grasp that nettle than he has been.