COCOA, Fla. – For the first few seconds, Rocket Crafters’ engine test Thursday was going well but then, moisture got into the raw materials used for ignition, causing the engine to overpressurize blowing off the nozzle, similar to a hot water heater explosion.
Rocket Crafters President Rob Fabian spoke to News 6 a day after the company’s 3D rocket engine test sent debris through the roof onto neighboring property, startled some of the neighboring Cocoa businesses and started small brush fires.
"This is research and development so when you're pushing the envelope, sometimes the envelope pushes back," Fabian said. "The nozzle flying, it hit the wall. Damaged the wall, but the wall did its job and stopped the nozzle."
Sky 6 recorded concrete debris on the Cidco Road property and dispatch audio shows Cocoa firefighters responding to a brush fire.
A dispatcher said the flames were three feet high and the fire was growing.
A firefighter could later be heard telling a dispatcher, "The rocket test earlier, apparently it didn't go so well."
News 6 viewer Mike Farace shared a picture of a hole in a trailer at the Cumberland Farms property next door.
Workers on that property told us if the debris struck the gas trucks, it would have been like setting off a bomb.
Rocket Crafters did not share video of Thursday's accident.
Despite the incident, it’s expected to be a banner year for the private space company.
After three years of testing on the ground, Rocket Crafters is now working toward its first flight test.
"(We’ll) analyze this and learn from this both for improvements to the motor and for the plan,” Fabian said.
Moving forward, Fabian said he’s thankful no one was injured.
Rocket Crafters said all of its employees were safe inside their facility during the accident. The company said before every test they notify all their neighbors.