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