SpaceX, the space transportation company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2002, suffered yet another setback on Thursday. In preparation for a routine pre-launch static test fire at Cape Canaveral in Florida, an “anomaly” on the launch pad resulted in a massive explosion that took out both the Falcon 9 rocket and its commercial payload.
The incident took place at 9:07 a.m. EDT. Fortunately, the test area was clear and thus, there were no injuries although the force from the blast could be felt several miles away.
The Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to launch on Saturday. Its payload, an AMOS-6 satellite operated by Israeli firm Spacecom, was completely destroyed as well. The satellite, meant for broadcast and telecommunications, was also going to be used by Facebook as part of its initiative to bring Internet connections to remote and underserved parts of the world.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on the social network that he is deeply disappointed to hear that the launch failure destroyed a satellite that would have provided connectivity to many entrepreneurs and others in Africa.
This isn’t the first time SpaceX has experienced such a disaster. In June 2015, an unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 on a resupply mission to the International Space Station exploded shortly after takeoff from Cape Canaveral, sending debris raining down over the Atlantic Ocean.
According to SpaceNews Paris Bureau Chief Peter B. de Selding, today’s unfortunate event wasn’t covered by launch insurance.