September 1, 2016 – This morning at 7:07 a.m. MT, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its Amos-6 satellite payload were destroyed in an explosion at Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
SpaceX confirmed the loss via a short statement:
The static fire test is a routine pre-launch procedure for liquid-fueled rockets. It was being conducted in advance of a planned Saturday launch, which would have marked the ninth Falcon 9 liftoff of the year and the 29th since its debut mission in June 2010.
SpaceX provided an update at about 11 a.m. MT. Early speculation is focused on an anomaly near the upper stage oxygen tank, but an intense investigation will be conducted.
SpaceX had an ambitious launch manifest for the remainder of the year, with nine additional planned launches of the Falcon 9. The company has also been working toward the debut launch of the Falcon Heavy on a separate pad. It’s not yet known how today’s anomaly will impact that schedule.
It’s also unclear how much damage the launch pad has sustained, but early reports indicate a powerful explosion. Twitter users posted pictures of billowing smoke plumes engulfing the launch complex and reported houses shaking miles away from the epicenter.
The Amos 6 payload was a communications satellite owned by Spacecom Ltd. Of Israel. Its intended mission was to supply television services across Europe and the Middle East. Facebook and Eutelsat had reserved some key transponders on the satellite to provide internet services across sub-Saharan Africa.
Brevard County officials confirmed that there is no danger to the general public from the explosion.