SpaceX Rocket Explodes at Cape Canaveral

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its payload were destroyed Thursday morning when an oxygen tank exploded during a pre-launch fire test at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., the company said in a statement. SpaceX said there were no injuries, and the cause is under investigation. The rocket was set to launch Spacecom’s Amos-6 satellite into orbit on Saturday, according to the Israeli company’s website. Facebook and Eutelsat Communications had contracted to lease the satellite’s Ka-band broadband capacity to provide internet to sub-Sahara Africa, according to a Eutelsat release. Mark Zuckerberg, who is traveling in Africa, said on Facebook that he is “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.” A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying supplies for the International Space Station exploded after lifting off in June 2015. The company is scheduled to launch the second GPS III satellite in May 2018. (Watch a video of the explosion taken by US Launch Report.)