The extent of the damage at the launchpad, known as SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, is still being investigated, the company said.
The space exploration company founded by billionaire Elon Musk said Friday that it’s working to determine “causes and fixes” for the incident, which incinerated a satellite that Facebook planned to use to beam Internet access across a broad swath of Africa.
A Falcon 9 rocket developed and owned by private company SpaceX has reportedly exploded at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The explosion happened while the rocket was being fueled, about eight minutes before the scheduled test firing.
· The anomaly on the pad resulted in the loss of the vehicle. At this time, the data indicates the anomaly originated around the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.
SpaceX said it began searching for the root cause of the accident immediately after the loss and is in the “early process” of reviewing about 3 000 channels of telemetry and video data covering 35 to 55 milliseconds. “We remain confident in our commercial partners and firmly stand behind the successful 21st century launch complex that NASA, other federal agencies, and U.S. commercial companies are building on Florida’s Space Coast”, it added.
In a statement released on Twitter since the incident, SpaceX revealed the cause of the explosion and confirmed that no one was hurt.
The FAA had required SpaceX buy US$12 million in liability insurance and US$13 million policy to cover any damage to government property during pre-launch activities, according to a Commercial Space Transportation License the FAA issued to SpaceX in January 2016 for six commercial satellite launches in Florida. In addition, SpaceX has contracts to fly satellites for Iridium Communications Inc, Taiwan’s National Space Organization and Seattle-based Spaceflight from its West Coast launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. SpaceX’s other launch sites were not affected by yesterday’s events. SpaceX said its launch complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is in the final stages of an operational upgrade and Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center remains on schedule to be operational in November.
The company had planned to use the pad for the first time later this year for a test flight of its new Falcon Heavy rocket.
“Our number one priority is to safely and reliably return to flight for our customers, as well as to take all the necessary steps to ensure the highest possible levels of safety for future crewed missions”, SpaceX said in a statement. SpaceX says these two pads can support the company’s upcoming launches, until the damaged pad can be fixed.