CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (UPI) — Scientists unwittingly put on a very expensive fireworks show at Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Thursday — a display partly funded by Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded in a “catastrophic abort” during a test firing of the engines on the launch pad Thursday morning.
The unmanned rocket exploded during a static test firing, officials said. It was expected to launch a satellite for Facebook this weekend.
No one was on the launch pad during the explosion and no one was injured.
“There is NO threat to general public from catastrophic abort during static test fire at SpaceX launch pad at CCAFS this morning,” the Brevard County Emergency Operations Center said.
Witnesses said there were at least three explosions. The initial explosion happened about 9:15 a.m. Local television station WFTV live-streamed the smoke billowing from the site.
The explosion was so strong it shook buildings several miles away. A dark cloud of smoke filled the sky.
Zuckerberg said he was “disappointed” that the mishap destroyed his $95 million satellite.
“I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent,” he said in a Facebook post. “Fortunately, we have developed other technologies … that will connect people as well. We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.”