A massive explosion during a routine pre-launch rocket test of SpaceX Falcon 9 on September 1 not only inflicted a major setback on SpaceX but also on Facebook, as it destroyed one of its satellites. The explosion took place at Launch Complex 40 of the Air Force station, which is located close to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Reportedly the initial blast had NASA employees rushing out to see what happened. The Air Force insisted that there was no threat to public safety in the areas nearby. SpaceX attributed the disaster to an issue with the Launchpad and not the rocket.
Facebook was counting on this satellite to help it spread the internet across Africa. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but the explosion was felt and heard for miles.
This explosion has dealt a massive blow to NASA as well, as it was relying on SpaceX’s aim to send supplies to the International Space Station.
This test was being held ahead of today’s launch of an Israeli communications satellite, which will also be delayed because of this. A video that showed the entire explosion was released, also showing the satellite cone plunging into the ground.
In a Facebook post, originating from Kenya, Zuckerberg said,
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.
The Amos-6 was Facebook’s first satellite. Zuckerberg also expressed that fortunately, they also have other technologies like Aquila, which is a high altitude unmanned aircraft. The project is aimed at providing affordable internet to hundreds of millions across the globe. Two of NASA’s astronauts were doing a spacewalk, 250 miles above the ground when this happened. They were not informed of the accident immediately.
In a statement later, NASA expressed its confidence in SpaceX’s projects. It also said that the International Space Station is well stocked for now, and the delay that this unforeseen circumstance will cause no harm.
Elon Musk, a serial investor had fed a large chunk of his fortunes from PayPal into SpaceX, and this setback of $62 million is much more than just financial in nature. All other related plans have to be put on hold. There is no estimating how long the recovery process will take, however, NASA’s faith in the project must instill some confidence.