SpaceX Explosion Could Be Big Blow for Facebook

Destroyed satellite was part of Facebook's initiative
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 1, 2016 8:43 AM CDT
Updated Sep 1, 2016 11:20 AM CDT
Smoke rises from a SpaceX launch site Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, at Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA said SpaceX was conducting a test firing of its unmanned rocket when a blast occurred.   (AP Photo/Marcia Dunn)
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(Newser) – A blast that sounded like thunder, then the sounds of more explosions: SpaceX's launch site was rocked by an explosion Thursday shortly after 9am. The company says in a statement that in preparation for Thursday's engine firing—a test carried out a few days before every launch—"there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload." Buildings several miles away were rattled by the blast, and explosions continued for several minutes. Science reporter Robin Seemangal tweeted that her source in the Operations and Checkout building "thought the building was collapsing, it shook us so bad." (This tweet shows the blast as seen on radar.) TV cameras showed smoke coming from the launch pad two hours later, the AP reports. The rocket was still standing, although the top third or so was clearly bent over.

The test was in advance of a planned 3am Saturday launch of a communications satellite that would have extended Internet access in sub-Saharan Africa as part of Facebook’s initiative, reports NPR. Wired sees the destruction of the AMOS-6 satellite as a "setback" for Facebook, though the company did not reply to a request for comment. ABC News highlights this tweet from the Brevard County Emergency Management Office: "There is NO threat to general public from catastrophic abort during static test fire at SpaceX launch pad at [Cape Canaveral Air Force Station] this morning." There were no injuries reported. (Read more SpaceX stories.)

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