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Update 2: 2 September, 7.44pm: SpaceX shed more light on the incident, saying the “anomaly originated around the upper stage oxygen tank” and happened while propellant was being loaded.
Update: 1 September, 4.43pm: SpaceX has emailed a press statement on the matter, revealing that the explosion was caused by an “anomaly” on the launchpad.
“SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today’s standard pre-launch static fire test, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries,” the company explained.
Original article: Here’s something you don’t hear everyday. A Falcon 9 rocket developed and owned by private company SpaceX has reportedly exploded at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The incident occurred Wednesday around 3pm South African time. The rocket was reportedly resting on the launch pad prior to a test before bursting into flames.
The SpaceX rocket was carrying a satellite which Facebook was planning to use in its internet.org programme
The space exploration company’s rocket was carrying the AMOS-6 satellite, which was to be used by Facebook to provide internet service via the social network’s internet.org initiative. The mission was set to take place on Saturday 3 September, and would’ve placed the satellite in a standard geosynchronous orbit, far above the International Space Station.
Social media adds context
Reports on Twitter also suggest that the explosion shook nearby office buildings.
Wow, SpaceX rocket just blew up on pad. Shook our whole bldg. pic.twitter.com/PMxZA4v4IV
— SpaceCoastTiger (@TigernBear) September 1, 2016
The plume of smoke in the wake of the explosion was also visible on weather radar.
— E. Horst, MU WIC (@MUweather) September 1, 2016
It’s unclear at present why the SpaceX rocket exploded, and whether or not anyone was harmed by the incident.
If confirmed, it wouldn’t be the first time that one of the company’s rockets blew up either. Back in June 2015, a Falcon 9 rocket exploded during its ascent into orbit.
The firm’s next mission was set to launch on 19-20 September, lifting 10 satellites to orbit. One would expect that this launch will be pushed back a few months, as was the case when last year’s incident occurred.
One would also expect that SpaceX’s first proper test of its Dragon V2 manned capsule, scheduled for December, will be delayed to 2017 as a result.