2 Killed in Explosion at Mojave Airport, Others Injured

Two people were killed and four others injured Thursday by an explosion at a Mojave Desert airport that is home to pioneering civilian rocket programs, authorities said.

Wreckage of equipment and vehicles could be seen in an overhead
view of the site broadcast by a KCAL-TV news helicopter.

A sign on a truck behind a bunker had the name Scaled. Scaled Composites is the Mojave-based builder of SpaceShipOne, the first
private manned rocket to reach space, and is developing a successor
for the new space tourism business Virgin Galactic.

Aerospace designer Burt Rutan, who heads Scaled, told The Associated Press he had no information and was heading to the scene.

"Reports are two fatalities and at least four critical injuries," said Kern County fire Capt. Doug Johnston, who was not at the scene.

A call seeking comment from the airport manager was not immediately returned.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blast, which happened around 2:45 p.m. in a remote section of the Mojave Air and Space Port, said Tony Diffenbaugh, an inspector with the Kern County Fire Department.

Kern County fire crews and bomb experts were en route to the scene, where there was concern that airport personnel could be exposed to hazardous materials, said sheriff's Deputy Vince Martinez.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)