SpaceX rocket explodes at Cape Canaveral, $195 million satellite destroyed

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A still image taken from video of smoke rising on the launch site of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida, September 1, 2016.  Photo by NASA TV/Handout via REUTERS

A still image taken from video of smoke rising on the launch site of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida, September 1, 2016. Photo by NASA TV/Handout via REUTERS

A SpaceX rocket, due for launch this weekend, exploded Thursday morning on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX confirmed the rocket’s cargo, a multimillion-dollar Israeli communications satellite, was also lost during the incident.

NASA stated the explosion happened shortly after 9 a.m. during a firing test of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The Air Force 45th Space Wing confirmed via Twitter that no casualties occurred and there was no immediate threat to public safety.

Smoke billowed from the launch pad for half an hour according to the Associated Press, and was accompanied by series of explosions. A local weatherman spotted the giant smoke plume on radar maps.

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The destroyed communications satellite, called Amos-6, was meant to launch Saturday whereupon it would have provided internet to Sub-Saharan Africa as part of a Facebook initiative called Internet.org. Amos-6 reportedly cost $195 million to construct.

The explosion interrupts a series of successes made this year by the private space exploration company, including multiple landings of its reusable Falcon 9 rockets. On Tuesday, the company signed its first customer for a recycled rocket mission.

However, today’s accident arrives a year and two months after one of their Falcon 9 rockets exploded just after launch. SpaceX stated initially that an anomaly on the platform caused this morning’s fireball. Later, the company clarified, stating the issue arose while loading fuel into the rocket.

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