Space Communication said that it would be seeking either a payment of $50 million or a free flight from SpaceX, after one of the Israel-based company’s satellites was destroyed in the sudden explosion of the Falcon 9 rocket that was carrying it.
The incident at Cape Canaveral happened while the rocket was being fueled to prepare for a test fire. However, fire was able to enter the upper stage of the rocket, leading to the explosions. Buildings surrounding the launch pad trembled, while heavy plumes of smoke were released by the Falcon 9.
SpaceX confirmed that due to the anomaly, the vehicle and its payload was lost, including Spacecom’s satellite.
Spacecom officials, in a conference call, said that the company could also claim $205 million from Israel Aerospace Industries, which is the company that built the AMOS-6 satellite that was supposed to be launched.
The AMOS-6 satellite was supposed to be used by several important clients such as Facebook and Eutelsat Communications, which leased the broadband services of the satellite to expand wireless connectivity in parts of sub-Saharan Africa as part of Facebook’s Internet.org initiative. The two companies are now looking at alternatives after the loss of the satellite, they said in separate statements released after the explosion.
The construction, preparation for launch and operation of the satellite reportedly comes with a cost of more than $195 million. SpaceX has not disclosed the terms of its contracts and insurance for the Falcon 9 rocket and the launch pad beyond what was needed to be presented to the Federal Aviation Administration.
SpaceX, which currently has over 70 planned missions with a value of more than $10 billion for both government and commercial clients, is helmed by Elon Musk, who also leads the electric car company Tesla Motors and solar power provider SolarCity.
According to Musk, the incident was not actually an explosion, but rather a “fast fire,” downplaying the gravity of what happened.
Whatever the case may be, the operations of SpaceX may be seriously hampered due to the damage that the incident caused to Launch Complex 40.
Spacecom said that the loss of the AMOS-6 satellite will have a significant impact on the company, with its equity expected to drop by $30 million to $123 million. The price of the company’s shares dropped by 9 percent on the day of the explosion, and after the suspension of shares on Sunday, the price decreased by 34 percent upon trade resumption.
The satellite explosion may also have an effect on the planned $285 million acquisition of Spacecom by Beijing Xinwei Technology Group, as the deal depended on the successful launch of the AMOS-6.
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from Department of Private Space Inc.