UPDATE 12:02 p.m.:
SpaceX issued a statement this morning after what it is calling an “anomaly” on the SLC-40 launch site at Kennedy Space Center. The “anomaly,” in plain language, was a huge explosion, when the Falcon 9 rocket being prepped to launch an Israeli communications satellite on Saturday morning blew up during a routine test, resulting in the “loss of the vehicle and its payload.” Fortunately, no one was hurt.
Here’s the full statement by SpaceX on Facebook:
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.
The explosion occurred at some time just past 9 a.m. on Thursday morning, sending a massive plume of dark black smoke into the sky above Central Florida’s East Coast. SpaceX was due to launch the Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday morning to send an Amos 6 communications satellite into orbit for Israel’s Spacecom. But during a routine test in advance of the launch on Thursday morning, it appears the rocket exploded on the launch pad.
Local news affiliates like WFTV, which is live-streaming coverage here have yet to report any injuries to SpaceX staff, and the latest word was ground staff are assembling at a staging area to make sure all personnel are accounted for.
It’s likely no one was injured, due to strict safety regulations that keep space launch personnel far away from the launch site, just in case something blows up.
Still, this wasn’t just a small bang. There have been multiple reports of secondary explosions, and the smoke cloud from the launch pad was so large it was visible on weather radar.
This story is developing, and will be updated.