Disaster strikes SpaceX rocket, Facebook’s satellite destroyed

1 Sep 2016

An “anomaly on the pad” at today’s (1 September) SpaceX launch in Cape Canaveral saw SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket explode, destroying some standout equipment it was delivering to space.

In a blast that shook buildings several miles in the distance, Mark Zuckerberg’s hopes of spreading internet access to greater areas of the planet may have suffered a major blow.

His Amos 6 satellite was one of the many pieces of equipment SpaceX’s Falcon 9 was supposed to transport into space, but it is long gone now.

SpaceX Falcon 9

The launch was scheduled for Saturday but, during a test-firing, an anomaly on the pad resulted in a major, critical explosion.

“SpaceX can confirm that, in preparation for today’s standard pre-launch static fire test, 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,” said the company in a statement.

According to Reuters, the initial blast sounded like lightning, “but was followed by the sounds of more explosions”.

Along with Facebook’s satellite being potentially on board, several Israeli communications satellites were scheduled as part of the payload.

Nobody was injured in the explosion, with Falcon 9 an unscrewed rocket.

Following a June 2015 in-flight failure, Falcon 9 has launched successfully nine times since then.

SpaceX’s revolutionary approach to the space courier industry – successfully delivering goods into space, or onto the International Space Station – has seen the Elon Musk company produce rockets that can land safely on Earth following each mission.

However, when there’s an anomaly on the launchpad, there’s not a whole lot you can do.

Main Falcon 9 image via SpaceX/Flickr

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic