Major loss for Africa as SpaceX Rocket and its cargo explode on launch pad
Sept 02, 2016: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its commercial satellite payload, which would have widened the Internet access in Africa, were destroyed by an explosion at their launchpad in Florida during preparations for a routine test firing.
The explosion happened two days before the rocket was to be launched for placing a satellite in orbit.
No casualties were reported and there is reportedly no threat to the public's safety.
"An anomaly on the pad" caused the explosion, said SpaceX. The disaster struck when the rocket was being filled with propellant, said SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
He further confirmed that the blast originated near the upper stage oxygen tank.
The payload included a communications satellite meant to provide direct Internet access to large and remote swaths of sub-Saharan Africa, in a program led by Facebook that also includes Eutelsat and Spacecom, the Israeli company that made the AMOS-6 satellite.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posted an update saying he was "deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX's launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent."
He added his company is working on other technologies as well to offer similar opportunities this satellite would have provided.
The explosion follows a run of recent successes for SpaceX, except only one major failure. In June 2015, a Falcon 9 carrying a Dragon cargo ship for NASA exploded shortly after liftoff. SpaceX traced the problem to a faulty strut, and made upgrades before resuming commercial and NASA flights.