A Falcon 9 rocket that was supposed to carry a satellite for Facebook exploded on Thursday at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
According to NASA, SpaceX was conducting a test-firing of the unmanned rocket ahead of the planned Saturday launch.
The shock from the blast was felt several kilometres away from the site. Explosions were heard even after the blast for several minutes.
Local emergency officials described the incident as a “catastrophic abort during a static test fire”. Smoke from the blast site was seen from kilometers away.
It was not immediately clear if the blast had left anyone injured but SpaceX issued this statement:
Statement on this morning’s anomaly pic.twitter.com/3Xm2bRMS7T
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) 1 September 2016
The Falcon 9 would have carried Amos 6 satellite, a communications probe for the Israeli satellite operator Spacecom.
Once launched, the satellite would have provided internet to parts of Sub-Saharan Africa as part of Facebook’s Internet.org initiative.
— Matt Reagan (@reaganmatt) 1 September 2016
This is a major accident involving SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk.
Previously, SpaceX successfully tested the Falcon 9 rocket’s reusability on land and sea marking a significant change in the economics of space programmes as well as technology.