SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket exploded on the launchpad during a test at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station destroying Facebook’s Internet Satellite which was supposed to beam internet in Africa as part of internet.org initiative.
It’s a major setback for the space firm based in California and also for its founder, Elon Musk. “Loss of Falcon vehicle today during propellant fill operation | Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon,” tweeted Elon Musk.
There were no injuries as it was a unmanned rocket and nobody was around the launchpad. “At approximately 9:07am ET (13:07 GMT), during a standard pre-launch static fire test for the Amos-6 mission, there was an anomaly at SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 resulting in loss of the vehicle,” the firm said.
“Per standard operating procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.”
Falcon 9 was due to deliver Israel-based communications satellite into the orbit on Saturday. The explosion deeply disappointed the Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
“As I’m here in Africa, I’m 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,” posted Mark Zuckerberg on his Facebbok page.
Facebook’s aim was to provide internet brodband over large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and other remote parts of the world. “Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well,” said Zuckerberg. Aquila is a solar powered plane designed to beam internet over the remote parts of the world.
“We will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided,” added Mark Zuckerberg.
Air quality tests were conducted to ensure there is no threat to the health of staff. Officials also advised the workers to remain inside until further notice. All safety measures were taken by the officials to ensure the safety of nearby people including the staff.
According to the former director of Space Policy Institue, John Logsdon, the Amos 6 was built at a cost between $200 to $300 million (appx. Rs.1,337 crores to Rs.2,004 crores) and was the heaviest payload till date for a SpaceX rocket.
“It’s clearly a setback, but how great the setback is and how long the delay, it’s impossible to know until there is more information available,” said John Logsdon.
“Thursday’s SpaceX explosion reminds us that spaceflight is challenging. Our partners learn from each success & setback,” said NASA in a tweet.