Footage has been released showing yesterday’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explosion. It is not yet clear what caused the issue, but one thing is for sure: The incident is a major setback for the company, and will likely cause delays to many of its upcoming launches.
The explosion occurred yesterday at 9.07am EDT (2.07pm BST) at Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The rocket was mounted vertically with its payload on board an Israeli-built telecommunications satellite and was just minutes away from a static fire test – a ground test of the rocket's engines – when the incident occurred. Both the rocket and the $200 million payload were lost.
“SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today’s standard pre-launch static fire test, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload,” SpaceX said in a statement. “Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.”
Video of the explosion, which begins around the 1:10 mark. The payload falls to the ground and explodes at 1:20
The full extent of the damage is not yet known, but the launch pad looks to be in a pretty bad shape. The strongback, a metallic frame used to hold up the rocket, seems to have been severely damaged, with images showing it bent out of shape. The pad itself is likely to need considerable repairs; when an Orbital Sciences rocket exploded in October 2014, it took a year to get their launch pad up and running again.
“Loss of Falcon vehicle today during propellant fill operation,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a brief post on Twitter. “Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon.”