SpaceX rocket explosion is major setback for pioneer

SpaceX, as a private company, was not required to publicly disclose what kind of insurance it has in place.

In an update posted on the company’s website Friday, SpaceX said the company “has begun a careful and deliberate process of understanding the causes and fixes for (Thursday’s) incident”.

SpaceX has more than 70 missions on its manifest, worth more than £7.5 billion ($10bn), for commercial and government customers.

SpaceX, which now 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 auto company Tesla Motors and solar power provider SolarCity. “This explosion will not change the long term goals of SpaceX, which are to reduce the cost of spaceflight through the use of reusable rockets, and eventually to colonise Mars”. Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, near Los Angeles, is in the “final stages” of an operational upgrade, the company said, while Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center remains on schedule to be operational in November. The Los Angeles Times notes that he was set to announce the Autopilot improvements of his electric vehicle company Tesla Motors in the wake of a fatal crash earlier this year when the system could not tell the side of a big-rig truck from an overcast sky.

The first stage of the 70m (229ft) tall Falcon 9 is powered by nine SpaceX-developed Merlin rocket engines; the second stage – where the explosion appeared to originate – has a single Merlin Vacuum engine to boost payloads into orbit.

A leading Israeli space official said the loss of the Amos-6 satellite, valued at more than $200m (£150m) and owned by Spacecom, was a major blow to the industry. 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.

Spacecom’s planned merger with Beijing Xinwei Technology Group has also been thrown into doubt by the explosion. “We hope to continue fruitful communications with the prospective buyer”, he said. It added the accident would not impact its broader strategy to establish an integrated space information network. In October, Facebook announced it had teamed with French satellite company Eutelsat to launch the AMOS-6 satellite in a deal valued at $95 million for a five-year lease on the Ka-band communication array.

SpaceX says “an anomaly on the pad” caused the explosion.

Space X confirmed that both Falcon 9 and its Amos-6 payload were lost in the explosion, but there were no injuries in the explosion.