A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida, US during a test fire Thursday morning.
And burn down together was the US$200 million AMOS-6 satellite, Aquila, from Facebook that was attached on it.
Aquila is part of Facebook’s project to deliver broadband internet to the developing world, including swathes of sub-Saharan Africa this year. (Read more on: Facebook’s internet drone Aquila completes first test flight)
The satellite was scheduled to launch on the Falcon 9 this weekend. It was destroyed, and the project is likely to be postponed.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is currently visiting Africa, said he was “deeply disappointed” to hear that the satellite had been destroyed.
“We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided,” said on his Facebook account.
SpaceX, the aerospace company owned by former PayPal entrepreneur and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, said in a statement: “The anomaly originated around the upper stage oxygen tanks and occurred propellant loading of the vehicle.”
Update on this morning’s anomaly pic.twitter.com/1ogCMPCY44
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 1, 2016
While the rocket was located in Orlando, Florida, WFTV, the local ABC-affiliated television station, said on air that it may have been “the biggest explosion we have ever felt in central Florida”. No one was near the rocket while the propellant was being loaded, so there were no injuries from the blast.