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SpaceX rocket explodes in test, destroys Facebook property

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    Thursday, September 1, 2016, 10:18 AM - An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded Thursday morning in Cape Canaveral, resulting in a fireball and massive plume of black smoke that could be seen for miles along Florida's east coast. There are no reports of injuries at this time, but the lost cargo on board was part of social media giant Facebook and its plan to provide internet everywhere.

    Officials at NASA confirmed that the private SpaceX company was conducting a static test-fire of the unmanned rocket at the time, which was carrying a $200 million Israeli satellite that was to be launched into orbit this weekend. The rocket was meant to deliver Israeli company Spacecom's Amos-6 communications satellite. The satellite was part of Facebook's Internet.org initiative to make Internet access available to millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed the news through his own account, and reiterated that he will continue to complete the mission of connecting everyone. In Zuckerberg's message (posted below) he mentions Aquilla, which according to a previous post by the CEO is '... a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down internet connectivity from the sky. It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a car and can stay in the air for months at a time.' The test was considered routine, with the actual rocket constrained. The original explosion and subsequent smaller ones were reportedly felt for miles in all directions and was picked up by local weather radar.

    In a statement issued by SpaceX shortly after the incident, the company said, "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. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries."

    SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk later tweeted that, 'Loss of Falcon vehicle today during propellant fill operation. Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon.'

    Musk is no stranger to incidents during launch of the Falcon 9, and famously tweeted after a separate fiery crash upon landing the rocket in January 2016 that it underwent a 'rapid unscheduled disassembly.' The SpaceX launches are quite often eye candy events for enthusiasts, who often get to see the process in timelapse and with new 360-degree point of views.

    SOURCES: Thumbnail

    For More on Elon Musk's plan to put the internet on Mars, watch here:

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