Tallahassee: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, meant to launch a satellite this weekend, exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The explosion occurred during a static fire test of the rocket’s engines, NASA told the Associated Press. The blast reportedly shook buildings “several miles away.”
SpaceX was getting the Falcon 9 ready to launch the Amos 6 satellite, a communications probe for the Israeli satellite operator Spacecom. The mission was scheduled for 3AM ET Saturday morning. Prior to all launches, SpaceX conducts a static fire test, in which the rocket’s engines are turned on while the vehicle is constrained. It’s a routine procedure the company has done many times before.
The 45th Space Wing, the US Air Force unit that commands the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, is responding to the explosion. “There are no known casualties. There’s no threat to public safety and our emergency management teams are on site responding,” Bryan Bryan Purtell, a representative for the 45th Space Wing, told The Verge. The unit will provide more updates soon.
It’s possible that the Amos 6 satellite was not harmed during the explosion. The satellites aren’t always loaded on top of the Falcon 9s during a static fire. But right now, the fate of the Amos 6 is unclear.