Image: Chicago Tribune
A SpaceX rocket exploded at its Cape Canaveral launch pad Thursday morning, terminating the rocket and the satellite it was due to launch on Saturday. According to CNN, SpaceX mentioned that there were no injuries as a result of the explosion, which it described as an “anomaly”.
What does this then mean for the future of commercial spaceflight? SpaceX has yet to release news on the source of the explosion and as far as figuring out how this will affect the near future of spaceflight, that will come even later.
In the video, a gigantic fire erupts from the upper third of the rocket. That would have meant that the explosion probably originated “either in the second stage booster’s liquid oxygen fuel, or the hydrazine fuel in the payload itself” according to Wired.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the explosion happened while the rocket was being fueled, but that the cause of the blast is still unidentified. The rocket was carrying a satellite to be used by Facebook to bring internet access to Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The satellite was called Amos 6 and was owned by Israeli company Spacecom.
No one was hurt, but the accident could ground SpaceX for weeks or months, depending on its cause and the extent of damage to Launch Complex 40. It was the second time in just over a year that SpaceX had lost a Falcon 9 rocket which is slated to launch NASA astronauts for the first time as soon as next year.
Dick Rocket, CEO and founder of Cape Canaveral-based New Space Global, said the loss of the rocket and satellite was a “significant setback for SpaceX, but not a lasting one for the industry.”
According to Florida Today, SpaceX said it was investigating the accident. Things went wrong at 9:07 a.m. as SpaceX fueled the 230-foot Falcon 9 during a run-through countdown, as part of preparations for a planned early Saturday launch of a communications satellite.