Explosion destroys SpaceX rocket during Cape Canaveral test

The blast, which SpaceX said had been caused by an “anomaly” during the static fire-test, resulted in no injuries, but shook buildings in the area and sent a fiery plume of smoke into the air.

The AMOS-6 communications satellite, which according to its manufacturer was the “largest and most advanced communications satellite ever built in Israel“, was also the device that Facebook hoped would allow them to provide internet access to remotes parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where internet access is spotty or non-existent.

A satellite co-funded by Facebook and intended to bring internet access to parts of sub-Saharan Africa, was destroyed on a launchpad in Florida Thursday, when the rocket meant to carry it to space exploded.

Facebook had partnered French satellite firm Eutelsat to lease the broadband capability of the satellite for five years at a reported cost of £72m a year.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed out the company still has its internet drones.

The loss of the Israeli-built Amos-6 satellite, owned by Spacecom and valued at more than £150m, has been described as a major blow to the space industry and SpaceX’s ambitions to provide a relatively cheap means of space travel with reusable rockets.

Musk said in a tweet that the exact cause of the explosion was still unknown, although SpaceX said in the statement, “The anomaly originated around the upper stage oxygen tank and occurred during propellant loading of the vehicle”.

Amos 6 would have replaced the ageing Amos 2 craft, providing services to Western, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

The rocket was scheduled to launch the Amos-6 communications satellite early Saturday morning. Spacecom itself is the subject of a $285 million sale to the Chinese-backed Luxembourg Space Telecommunications. “We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided”.

A SpaceX rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station broke apart over the Florida coast shortly after liftoff in June 2015 in the Falcon 9’s only in-flight failure. “But at the end of the day, I’m confident that our commercial space industry will be very successful”. The Falcon 9, a rocket manufactured by Elon Musk’s private aerospace company SpaceX, disappeared from view in the explosion, which was felt from miles away.

from Department of Private Space Inc.