Explosion destroys SpaceX rocket, satellite during fueling

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – SpaceX says a massive explosion has destroyed one of its rockets during a routine test for a weekend launch. A satellite aboard the rocket was also destroyed.

SpaceX says there were no injuries.

The company was conducting a test firing of its unmanned Falcon rocket when the blast occurred. In a statement, SpaceX says “there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload.”

SpaceX CEO said in a tweet that the explosion happened in the upper stage oxygen tank during fueling but the cause is not known.

The blast shook buildings several miles away.

The rocket was to be launched Saturday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is next to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It was supposed to hoist an Israeli communications satellite.

It’s the same kind of SpaceX rocket used to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. The loss is a major setback for NASA’s plans for future cargo hauls and, ultimately, astronaut flights.

SpaceX is one of two companies NASA uses to ship supplies to the space station.

A Facebook spokesman says the company is disappointed by the loss of the satellite that was part of a plan to bring internet service to areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

Chris Norton says Facebook remains “committed to our mission of connecting people to the Internet around the world.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is currently on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa, with stops so far in Nigeria and Kenya.

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