The SpaceX Falcon 9 was going to launch on Saturday. It would have deliver Facebook’s first satellite into orbit. The privately owned company is stating there is no danger to the public.
Emergency services are racing to the scene after a SpaceX rocket exploded while on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.
Plumes of black smoke could be seen from several miles away shortly before 9am after fire broke out during a static test.
Nasa said space exploration and technologies firm SpaceX was conducting a test firing of its unmanned rocket when the blast occurred on Thursday morning (local time).
Witnesses said the blast shook buildings for miles around and multiple explosions continued for several minutes.
SpaceX had been scheduled to launch on Saturday to deliver Facebook’s first satellite into orbit.
It was part of the social media’s site CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of bringing the internet to areas of Saharan Africa.
Brevard County Emergency management office told the Mirror there was no threat to the public from what they described as a “catastrophic abort during a static test fire”.
A Space spokesperson told Mirror Online: “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.”
NASA said there were no injuries.
The nearest viewing point from the SLC-40 pad for a Falcon 9 launch is 3.4 miles away.
Only very few emergency response personnel housed in a special bunker are allowed close.
David Turner, who lives about 40 minutes away from the launchpad, told how he heard a “big boom” around 9.15am.
“It sounds as if a rocket had just gone up,” Turner said. “I walked outside thinking it was going off tomorrow. I came back in and onto my computer and found out what happened.”