CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A SpaceX rocket exploded at its Cape Canaveral launch pad Thursday morning during a test firing, destroying the rocket and the satellite it was due to launch on Saturday.
SpaceX said there were no injuries as a result of the explosion, which it described as an “anomaly.”
It happened at the Space Launch Complex 40, according to Stephanie Martin, with Kennedy Space Center Public Information. That launchpad is used by SpaceX to launch rockets that carry supplies to the International Space Station as well as satellites.
Amos 6, the private satellite the rocket was due to carry into Earth’s orbit Saturday, was slated to provide communication services including home internet for Africa, the Middle East, and Europe for a partnership between Facebook and French satellite firm Eutelsat Communications. The satellite was owned by Israeli company Spacecom, which contracted with SpaceX to carry it into orbit. Facebook has not responded to requests for comment.
Launch Complex 40 is an Air Force facility which has been leased to SpaceX. The company has launched 25 rockets from the site since 2010. Its rockets have carried supplies to the International Space Station as well as satellites.
SpaceX is trying to change the economics of space flight by developing rockets that land upright after launch and can then be reused. It has yet to carry any people into space, though it has won a contract from NASA to carry American astronauts to the space station in the future.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who also is CEO of electric car maker Tesla, has said he hopes the company will be able to take people to Mars in as soon as 2025.
But amid these ambitious plans, the company has also suffered setbacks. A rocket explode during a launch in June of 2015 on one of its ISS supply missions. It was later determined that a strut that held a helium tank in place had failed, causing the explosion.
It has also lost several rockets when it tried to land them upright on an ocean platform at the end of a flight.