A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that was scheduled to carry an Amos 6 communications satellite for the Israeli company Spacecom on Saturday exploded on the Cape Canaveral launch pad at 9:07 (EST) Thursday morning, destroying the satellite as well.
The company said the launch pad was clear and no one was injured in the accident, adding in a statement: “SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today’s standard pre-launch static fire test, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in loss of the vehicle and its payload.”
Spacecom Satellite Communications Ltd is being acquired by Beijing Xinwei Technology Group for $285 million. According to industry media reports, the transaction’s terms were pending on the successful entry into service of Spacecom’s Amos-6 telecommunications satellite, built by Israel Aerospace Industries and scheduled for launch Saturday, Sept. 3, aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, a.k.a. SpaceX, is owned by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, who also owns the electric car company Tesla.
Spacecom, developed the Amos-6 satellite for Facebook and the French satellite provider, Eutelsat, in a venture intended to supply free Internet to millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa.
The project is part of Facebook’s Internet.org non-for-profit initiative of providing affordable or free Internet to countries with limited or no access to what founder, Mark Zuckerberg describes as “the knowledge economy.”
AMOS-6 was designed to be able to cover the Middle East, Central East Europe and much of Africa.
Content by Alexander J. Apfel/TPS was used in this report.David Israel