An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has exploded on the launch pad during a test in Florida, destroying a $200 million satellite that Facebook planned to use to beam high-speed internet to Africa.
The blast occurred Thursday evening at Cape Canaveral. It marks a giant setback for the private space firm and its founder, internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, who want to revolutionise the launch industry by making rocket components reusable.
Footage shared online showed the rocket burst into a roaring ball of flames amid what appeared to be a succession of blasts — sending its payload tumbling to the ground as a dense plume of black smoke filled the air.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, who is currently in Kenya on a tour of Africa, expressed his disappointment on his page.
He wrote: “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.
Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well. We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.
Space X Explosion Caught on Camera
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 1, 2016