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Explosion destroys US SpaceX rocket in Florida

1 September 2016 22:50

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A massive explosion has destroyed a rocket belonging to the US aerospace manufacturer SpaceX during routine test firing in Cape Canaveral, Florida, shaking buildings in the area and sending a fiery plume of smoke into the air.

SpaceX said there were no injuries during Thursday’s explosion but that an “anomaly” during the static fire test resulted in the loss of a Falcon 9 rocket and an Israeli communications satellite it had been due to carry into space on Saturday.

The California-based company, led by billionaire Elon Musk, was leasing a launch pad in Cape Canaveral from the US Air Force for its Falcon rocket launches.

Buildings several miles (km) away shook from the explosion, and multiple explosions continued for several minutes.

The explosion occurred at Launch Complex 40, right next door to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

“NASA still is assessing what impacts, if any, the incident will have on future missions,” NASA spokesman Michael Curie said in an email.

The accident dealt a severe blow to SpaceX, still trying to catch up with satellite deliveries following a launch accident last year. SpaceX is one of two private companies shipping supplies to the International Space Station for NASA.

US Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat representing Florida, said the SpaceX accident “reminds us all that space flight is an inherently risky business.” Nelson became the second sitting member of the US Congress to fly in space in 1986, just 10 days before the Challenger disaster.

“As we continue to push the frontiers of space, there will be both triumphs and setbacks. But at the end of the day, I’m confident that our commercial space industry will be very successful,” Nelson said in a statement.

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