SpaceX Falcon 9 Blows Up During Launch Pad Test with Israeli Comsat

Article written: 1 Sep , 2016
Updated: 8 Apr , 2018
A SpaceX Falcon 9 apparently explodes at the base of the rocket.   A static hot fire test was planned ahead of scheduled launch on Sep.t 3, 2016. Credit: CCAFS

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is destroyed during explosion at the pad on Sept. 1, 2016. A static hot fire test was planned ahead of scheduled launch on Sept. 3, 2016 of Amos-6 comsat. Credit: CCAFS

BREAKING NEWS- A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its Israeli commercial satellite payload were completely destroyed this morning, Thursday, September 1, during launch preparations ahead of the scheduled liftoff on Saturday, September 3.

The explosion occurred at approximately 9:07 a.m. this morning at the SpaceX launch facilities at Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, according to a statement from the USAF 45th Space Wing Public Affairs office.

Watch for additional details here and my interview on the BBC as this story is being frequently updated:

There were no injuries reported at this time.

SpaceX was preparing to conduct a routine static fire test of the first stage Merlin 1 D engine when the explosion took place this morning.

SpaceX media relations issued this statement:

“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.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 had been slated for an overnight blastoff on Saturday, September 3 at 3 a.m. from pad 40 with the AMOS-6 telecommunications satellite valued at some $200 million.

SpaceX sells Falcon 9 rockets at a list price of some $60 million.

This would have been the 9th Falcon 9 launch of 2016.

SpaceX Falon 9 rocket explosion

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explosion. Credit: WTTV/Julian Leek

This explosion and the total loss of vehicle and payload will have far reaching consequences for not just SpaceX and the commercial satellite provider, but also NASA, the US military, and every other customer under a launch contact with the aerospace firm.

Here’s my interview with the BBC TV news a short while ago. Note that the cause is under investigation:

SpaceX is also trying to recover and recycle the Falcon 9 first stage.

Indeed as I reported just 2 days ago, SpaceX announce a contract with SES to fly the SES-10 communications satellite on a recycled Falcon 9.

This explosion will set back that effort and force a halt to all SpaceX launches until the root cause is determined.

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Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

Upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 prior to launch of SES-9 communications satellite on Mar. 4, 2016 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/

Upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 prior to launch of SES-9 communications satellite on Mar. 4, 2016 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/

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10 Responses

  1. bknight2602 says

    Any news of the cause of the explosion?

  2. Gusssss says

    Glad to her there were no injuries or casualties at all.

    You have to love the understatement “anomaly on the pad”. I hope I never encounter any anomalies then.

    Incidentally, why do i now get an annoying thick black bar across the screen on tbis site, and how do i get rid of it?

  3. Member
    Eric Jackson says

    Ok, tin foil hat time…..

    Am I the only one who wonders that after all of the success of Space X, isn’t it interesting that the rocket blows up on the pad, during a test, with an Isreali payload on board? Especially after Obama releases thousands of Syrian refugees into this country on half-assed background checks, if at all.

    Very interesting…….

    • Richard Kirk says

      The explosion caused no fatalities. There is a very good reason why the run-up to a launch is done with care, and why people are kept away as much as possible. I hope most of the other readers of this newsgroup will join me in asking you to take your calls for deportations and executions of foreign-looking people based on conspiracy theories somewhere else. Good day to you, sir.

    • Ken Kremer says

      NO political discussion allowed period !!

      • Member
        Aqua4U says

        Reminds of a song from Buffalo Springfield… words in part…
        “Paranoia strikes deep
        into your life it will creep.
        It starts when you’re always afraid..”

  4. Member
    Aqua4U says

    Dang… I yam SO bummed about this set back. Here’s hoping the investigation finds the fault early on and the delay(s) are minimal..

  5. BCstargazer says

    I think that this is where testing before launch pays off. It’s much easier to find the cause and working the problem when all the evidence available is accessible and not having to fish it out of the ocean.The payload is replaceable although the facebook fans might see it differently.
    Video of the accident. Explosion (at the 1:11 mark) seems to be originating from the upper stage:

  6. chfosmith says

    To me, this looks like a propellant tank rupture.
    Overfilling due to an measurement/instrumentation error/failure??
    It is a good question why they risk destroying the satellite during these tests.

  7. Johnny J says

    Why do they need to static fire the engines, I don’t remember them do this before?

Comments are closed.