After seeing that explosion, I doubt anyone would sign up to fly in a reused and recycled rocket. Lucky for the owners of the experiment no one was injured or hurt… because an insane amount of lawsuits would be coming to them otherwise.
This is the dramatic moment the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket suffered a catastrophic explosion on the Cape Canaveral launch pad during a routine pre-launch check on Thursday morning.
The blast, which shook buildings and windows miles away, occurred shortly after 9am and destroyed Facebook’s $200million Amos-6 satellite that was set to launch on Saturday morning aboard the reusable rocket.
Billionaire SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the cause of the massive blast – which caused no injuries – is still unknown as the accident throws into question the future of his program of subcontracting his ‘reusable’ and ‘recycled’ rockets to NASA.
The satellite would have opened up free internet to more than 14 countries in Africa to serve the most populated areas more efficiently.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who confirmed that the company’s satellite was destroyed in the huge blast, called it ‘deeply disappointing,’ as he is currently visiting several countries on the continent and likely would have marked the occasion of the satellite launch there had it been successful.
The mishap dealt a severe blow to SpaceX, still scrambling to catch up with satellite deliveries following a launch accident last year. It’s also a setback for NASA, which has been counting on the private company to keep the International Space Station stocked with supplies and, ultimately, astronauts.
The video, which appeared on US Launch Report, shows the blast appearing to originate near the second stage or inter stage area of the rocket before it sent the faring, or payload, toppling over onto the ground creating another explosion.
The test was in advance of Saturday’s planned launch from from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is next to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, of an Israeli-made communications satellite that was supposed to provide home internet for Africa and the Middle East.
‘SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today’s static fire, 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,’ a SpaceX spokesman said to DailyMail.com in an email.
No additional details were provided. It wasn’t clear whether the rocket caused the problem or something else on the pad. The pad is normally cleared of workers before test firings.
The Brevard County Emergency Management Office said: ‘There is NO threat to general public from catastrophic abort during static test fire at SpaceX launch pad at CCAFS this morning.’
Buildings several miles away shook from the blast, and multiple explosions continued for several minutes.
Dark smoke filled the overcast sky, and a half-hour later, a black cloud hung low across the eastern horizon.
It’s the same kind of SpaceX rocket used to launch space station supplies for NASA.
NASA – SpaceX’s major customer – said the explosion occurred at Launch Complex 40 at the Air Force station, and Kennedy emergency staff was on standby.
The initial blast sent next-door NASA employees rushing frantically outside to see what happened.
At first, it sounded like lightning, but was followed by the sounds of more explosions, then more and more.
‘Heard/felt weird BOOMS this morning as SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded … Thank God no injuries!’ one local woman, Evie Hedman, wrote on Twitter.
Robin Seemangal, a space reporter with the Observer newspaper, quoted a source at the facility who told him it felt like the office they were in had been hit by lightning.
‘We actually thought the building was collapsing, it shook us so bad,’ Seemangal wrote in a tweet, quoting his source.
It was not immediately known to what extent SpaceX’s launch pad was damaged or what the impact would be on the dozens of NASA and commercial satellite missions on its launch schedule.
Before every launch, SpaceX conducts static fire tests of a rocket’s engines to make sure everything is operating correctly prior to the launch day.
NASA spokesman Al Feinberg said emergency personnel were monitoring the situation and standing by to assist, and the air quality was being monitored for any potential threats to employees, according to NBC News.
On his personal Twitter account, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said: ‘Loss of Falcon vehicle today during propellant fill operation. Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon.’
The pad where SpaceX’s rocket was being prepared for launch is one of two operated by the company. Its other launch site is at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
It’s mission was to use the same rocket booster that sent the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) earlier this year.
TV cameras showed smoke coming from the launch pad three hours later. The rocket was still standing, although the top third or so was clearly bent over.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees commercial rocket launches in the United States, will work with SpaceX to understand the cause of the accident, said agency spokesman Hank Price.
The rocket was supposed to launch the Amos-6 communication satellite, which included the capabilities for Facebook to spot-beam broadband for Facebook’s Internet.org initiative.
Zuckerberg wrote about the devastating explosion on his Facebook page.