A Falcon 9 booster rocket exploded on the launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida, as tropical storm Hermine bore down on the area. An Israeli satellite that was to provide Facebook broadband to Africa was lost in the explosion, SpaceX confirmed.
The blast shook buildings some distance away, according to witnesses who reported it on social media. Thick black smoke could be seen rising from the pad, while secondary explosions continued.
NASA has reported that SpaceX was conducting a test fire of an unmanned rocket when the explosion occurred this morning. The routine test was in preparation for the planned launch of an Israeli communications satellite on Saturday September 3. There are no reports of injuries or casualties.
SpaceX issued a statement that says, “SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today’s static fire, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.”
CBS reports that the AMOS-6 satellite lost in the explosion was valued at $195 million.
The explosion shook buildings several miles away, and additional explosions followed for several minutes. Dark plumes of smoke can be seen coming from the launch pad. You can download a NASA live stream from Cape Canaveral here.
NASA told the AP that the explosion occurred at Launch Complex 40. Emergency personnel from the nearby Kennedy Space Center are responding to the incident and testing the air for toxins.
According to the Verge, the emergency management team of the 45th Space Wing of the Air Force is responding to the explosion. The Air Force says there is no threat to public safety.
Significant smoke plume coming from the Cape Canaveral Space X launch pad in Florida, seen on radar.