SpaceX Falcon 9 explosion at launch complex at Cape Canaveral in Florida
The space exploration and technologies firm had been scheduled to launch on Saturday to deliver Facebook’s first satellite into orbit
Emergency services are racing to the scene after a SpaceX rocket exploded while on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.
Plumes of black smoke could be seen from several miles away shortly before 9am after fire broke out during a static test.
Nasa said space exploration and technologies firm SpaceX was conducting a test firing of its unmanned rocket when the blast occurred on Thursday morning (local time).
Witnesses said the blast shook buildings for miles around and multiple explosions continued for several minutes.
SpaceX had been scheduled to launch on Saturday to deliver Facebook’s first satellite into orbit.
It was part of the social media’s site CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of bringing the internet to areas of Saharan Africa.
Brevard County Emergency management office told the Mirror there was no threat to the public from what they described as a “catastrophic abort during a static test fire”.
A Space spokesperson told Mirror Online: “SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today’s static fire, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload.
“Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.”
NASA said there were no injuries.
The nearest viewing point from the SLC-40 pad for a Falcon 9 launch is 3.4 miles away.
Only very few emergency response personnel housed in a special bunker are allowed close.
David Turner, who lives about 40 minutes away from the launchpad, told how he heard a “big boom” around 9.15am.
“It sounds as if a rocket had just gone up,” Turner said. “I walked outside thinking it was going off tomorrow. I came back in and onto my computer and found out what happened.”
Twitter user 740kdev wrote: “just seen SpaceX Falcon 9 explode and pieces are falling all around me and I’m scared s***less…”
The privately owned rocket blasted off from Florida in April to send a cargo ship to the International Space Station before turning around and landed itself back at the launch site.
The 23-story-tall Falcon 9 rocket, built and flown by billionaire Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX is based at from Cape Canaveral Air Force.
— Obnoxious Boston Fan (@realOBF) September 1, 2016
No injuries have been reported so far following the explosion around 9.30am today (local time).
The Falcon 9 is launched from Canaveral’s SLC-40 pad from where Titan III and Titan IV launched between 1965 and 2005.
SpaceX was founded in 2002 by former PayPal entrepreneur and Tesla Motors CEO Musk with the goal of creating the technologies to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonisation of Mars.