NASA says SpaceX was conducting a test firing of its unmanned rocket when the blast occurred on Thursday morning, Associated Press reports.
Buildings several miles away from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, shook from the blast, and multiple explosions continued for several minutes.
Photos show a cloud of dark smoke filled the overcast sky. Additional details were not immediately available. Emergency services in the area of the rocket explosion said there’s no threat to the public from the blast. They also suggest the explosion was caused by the abortion of a static test fire.
The incident will have ramifications across the satellite industry, with the proposed acquisition of Spacecom dependent on SpaceX success. In addition, Spacecom upcoming AMOS-6 satellite was scheduled for launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on September 3rd.
Facebook is a major client for the satellite with capacity booked through Eutelsat of Paris, and worth (to Eutelsat) some $95 million (€83.9m) in total contract value. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg announced the scheme in October 2015, saying it was part of Facebook’s plan to “connect the world”. The Eutelsat agreement covers usage for five years with options to extend by a further two years, and utilises Amos-6’s Ka-band spot beams which cover 36 regions and a total throughput of 18 Gb/s.
Spacecom confirmed that the launch vehicle and the AMOS-6 were lost. Space-X reported that as per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no human injuries.
Space-X is continuing to determine the cause of this anomaly and Spacecom will report this news as it can.
In a Statement, Eutelsat said it regretted the loss of tbe craft and said it remained committed to growing broadband in Africa and would explore other options to serve the needs of key clients ahead of the launch of its own full-High Throughput African broadband satellite, scheduled for 2019.
According to Eutelsat, the impact on revenues is estimated at around €5 million in FY 2016-17, €15 million in FY 2017-18 and €25-30 million in FY 2018-19. Attendant savings in operating costs will partially mitigate the impact on the EBITDA margin. All financial objectives published on 29 July 2016 are confirmed.