SpaceX reaches out to public to help with investigation into rocket explosion

Updated: Sep 12, 2016 – 9:03 AM

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CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION – A massive fireball rocked Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Sept. 1 when a SpaceX rocket exploded during a pre-flight test, and now the company is reaching out to the public for help determining what happened.

“If you have audio, photos or videos of our anomaly last week, please send to report@spacex.com,” the company said on Twitter. “Material may be useful for investigation.”

After a week of public silence, SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk called the launch pad accident the “most difficult and complex failure” in the company’s 14-year history.

Musk said via Twitter that the company is still investigating the accident, its second in just 15 months.

The blast rocked the launch pad — which had been cleared of workers for the test-firing — and shook buildings several miles away at NASA’s neighboring Kennedy Space Center. The sound of explosions continued for several minutes and black smoke billowed into the morning sky.

Watch: SpaceX rocket explosion in Cape Canaveral

A massive fireball erupted during a prelaunch test Sept. 1 at the company’s main launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Falcon rocket and a satellite were destroyed, and the pad was damaged. Ground crews were fueling the Falcon for a brief test-firing of its engines, two days before its scheduled liftoff.

Particularly puzzling, according to Musk, is “the quieter bang” heard a few seconds before what he is calling a fireball, not an explosion. He said the bang may have come from the rocket or something else.

“Important to note that this happened during a routine filling operation,” he said in a tweet. “Engines were not on and there was no apparent heat source.”

A team of 20 people, including officials from the FAA, NASA and U.S. Air Force, is investigating the incident.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.