Facebook's First Satellite Goes Up in Smoke After FalconX Rocket Explosion

The explosion occurred at Launch Complex 40 at the Air Force station, right next door to Kennedy Space Center. The rocket’s loss occurred while the first and second stages were being filled with propellant, the company said late on Thursday in a statement. Originated around upper stage oxygen tank.

“There’s going to be so much damage”, said a former NASA official who heard the blast from his home and who asked not to be named. The satellite the rocket was carrying was destroyed.

Facebook spokesman Chris Norton said the social media company was “disappointed by the loss, but remain committed to our mission of connecting people to the internet around the world”. “Per standard operating procedure, all personnel were clear of the pad and there were no injuries”.

The Amos-6 satellite marked the first step in Facebook’s plans to bring internet capability to parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

NASA’s first mission to bring a sample of near-Earth asteroid remains on track for launch on September 8, despite the SpaceX rocket explosion that occurred on Thursday, the United States space agency said.

Other customers slated for Falcon 9 launches from Florida in 2016 are EchoStar Corp (SATS.O) of Englewood, Colorado, South Korea’s KT Sat and NASA.

TV cameras showed smoke coming from the launch pad five hours later.

A Falcon 9 didn’t fly again after the June 2015 explosion until December 21, when the rocket successfully lofted 11 satellites for the company Orbcomm – and the Falcon 9 first stage came back to Cape Canaveral and pulled off the first-ever soft landing during an orbital launch.

It had carried out another eight successful launches since June 2015, including last month when a Falcon 9 successfully placed a Japanese communications satellite in orbit, and then landed intact on a floating drone ship. They considered it a major setback to the industry.

SpaceX, whose full name is Space Exploration Technologies Corp., charges at least $62 million for each launch. While the company has not yet achieved a manned space flight, it has secured contracts with NASA to shuttle American astronauts to the ISS in the future.

The statement from SpaceX provided no additional information about the cause of the accident.

CBS reports that the AMOS-6 satellite lost in the explosion was valued at $195 million.

Eutelsat said the explosion’s impact on revenues is estimated at around 5 million euros (5.6 million US dollars) in fiscal year 2016-17, 15 million euros (16.8 million dollars) in 2017-18 and 25 to 30 million euros (28 to 33.6 million dollars) in 2018-19.