SpaceX Rocket Explodes During Test-Fire, No Casualties Reported

Smoke from the SpaceX Falcon 9 explosion.


A SpaceX Falcon 9 exploded during a customary test-fire on Thursday morning at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The large blast, subsequently followed by smaller explosions over several minutes, was caught on radar and shook buildings several miles away, according to the Associated Press. The rocket was unmanned at the time of the explosion, and initial reports suggest there were no casualties, authorities at Cape Canveral told the Verge. It is standard protocol to clear the launch pad in advance of such tests.

Thursday morning’s test was part of a standard preparation for the anticipated Saturday launch of a satellite, the Amos 6, into orbit. SpaceX released a statement confirming that the rocket was carrying its payload, meaning that the Amos 6 was on board.

This is not the first time one of Elon Musk’s rockets has exploded—in June 2015, another Falcon 9 rocket exploded after takeoff due to a failed strut in the ship, and in January, a Falcon 9 rocket exploded while attempting a sea-pad landing. In both cases, the rockets were unmanned and there were no casualties. Following the 2015 explosion, SpaceX halted launches for six months but has seen more success recently—in April they finally landed a Falcon 9 rocket after four failed attempts.

The Brevard County Emergency Management Office announced that there was no threat to the general public. Initial reports suggest the area is being evacuated due to “toxic air.” Inhaling remnants from any type of explosion can be damaging, and officials were monitoring the air for the presence of toxic fumes, according to the AP.