A SpaceX rocket has just exploded at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket, intended to fly on Saturday, met disaster on launch pad 40.
The rocket exploded during a routine, static fire pre-flight test when an anomaly occurred in the upper stage oxygen tank during loading of the propellant. This test involves firing the rocket while still attached to the ground to ensure that all mechanisms are working correctly.
The payload was a communications satellite owned by Israel Aerospace Industries, intending to bring coverage to Africa, Europe and the Middle-East. Unfortunately, it appears that the payload, purported to have cost $200 million, has been lost along with the rocket.
Just recently, SpaceX had signed its first customer to fly on one of its reusable rockets. The Falcon 9 is thankfully not one of these rockets, although this undoubtedly comes as a blow for the Commercial Spaceflight company.
The official description for the payload is as follows: “Built to replace the existing AMOS-2 satellite, AMOS-6 will be positioned in a geostationary orbit at 4 degrees west. The 5500kg craft will contain 43 Ku/Ka-band transponders and 2 S-band transponders to provide communications coverage for Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The 2 solar arrays on the craft will provide 9kW of power for the satellite’s 16 year expected lifetime.”
SpaceX released an updated official statement on Twitter:
Updates will follow as further news becomes available.