|(Picture: Universal News And Sport Europe)|
A SpaceX rocket exploded on Nasa’s Cape Canaveral launchpad today, destroying Facebook’s first satellite and sending a huge plume of smoke high into the air. The Falcon 9 spacecraft had been undergoing a routine test before launching the satellite on September 3, but dramatic photos from the scene show how the mission went badly wrong.
Facebook had reportedly commissioned the Israeli Amos-6 satellite costing around £130million to help deliver broadband around the world as part of its internet.org programme – but it was destroyed in this morning’s blast.
Buildings several miles away shook from the impact, and multiple explosions continued for several minutes.
Private company SpaceX, founded by celebrity entrepreneur Elon Musk, aims to eventually allow humans to live on other planets.
|The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off successfully from Cape Canaveral on July 18 (Picture: Getty)|
|An image from a NASA live camera shows the fire on the launch pad (Picture: EPA)|
In a statement, this afternoon SpaceX said there were no injuries as safety precautions meant the launchpad was clear. Both the rocket and its payload (the satellite) were destroyed due to an ‘anomaly’ on the pad, they said:
Statement on this morning's anomaly pic.twitter.com/3Xm2bRMS7T— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 1, 2016
|The Falcon 9 first stage rocket waits in a hangar (Picture: Getty)|
|The SpaceX Rocket Assembly and storage building next to launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Centre (Picture: Alamy)|
|Smoke rises from the SpaceX launch site (Picture: AP Photo)|
Falcon 9 has previously been used to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Future launches are likely to be delayed as the company repairs the launch pad and vehicle and investigates what went wrong.
SpaceX designs, builds and launches rockets with the self-described ‘ultimate goal’ of allowing people to live on other planets. Their crafts are designed to be re-used, and the company had just sold on a previously flown Falcon 9 to a private customer for the first time.
Demonstrating that the rockets can be reused is crucial for the company’s goal of reducing the cost of space technology.
- Metro, UK