(JTA) – A rocket that was scheduled to launch an Israeli communications satellite into space exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The unmanned SpaceX rocket reportedly was in the midst of routine fuelling test for Saturday’s scheduled launch when it exploded on Thursday morning. The explosion was felt throughout the NASA facility and for several miles around, The Associated Press reported. Dark smoke could be seen hanging in the sky over the blast site.
SpaceX is a private aerospace company found by Jewish entrepreneur, engineer and inventor Elon Musk.
The rocket was scheduled to hoist into orbit the Amos 6 satellite, built by Israel Aerospace Industries and owned by Spacecom Ltd. in partnership with Eutelsat Communications of France. It was expected to operate for 16 years on behalf of Facebook and bring Internet connectivity to sub-Saharan Africa and television service to providers in Europe and the Middle East. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the project in June 2015.
The satellite costs about $300 million. It was destroyed in the explosion, SpaceX said.