Space & Innovation

SpaceX Rocket Explodes During Launch Pad Test

Shortly before a routine test at their Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch pad on Thursday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded.

Only days before a planned commercial satellite launch, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during before a routine static fire test. According to preliminary reports, no one was injured and local emergency services say the explosion doesn't pose a risk to the public.

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"SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today's static fire, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries," the company said in a statement.

Company officials did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the extent of possible damage to the launch pad, one of two currently used by SpaceX. The other is at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SpaceX has not yet started flying from two other U.S. launch sites, one in Florida adjacent to its current site, and the other under construction in Texas.

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The accident is a huge setback for SpaceX, which technology entrepreneur Elon Musk founded in 2002 with the goal of slashing launch costs so that travel to Mars would be affordable.

The company, based in Hawthorne, Calif., had racked up 27 successful launches and one failure in the six years since the Falcon 9 rocket debuted.

This week, SpaceX said it had sold its first used rocket, with launch of the booster, previously used to deliver a cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA, slated for liftoff in the last quarter of 2016 to deliver an SES SA communications satellite into orbit.

SpaceX also had been aiming for the first flight of its heavy-lift, 27-engine Falcon booster before the end of the year, and planned to launch its first spacecraft to Mars in 2018.

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