MIAMI (APP): An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad during a test in Florida on Thursday, destroying a satellite that Facebook planned to use to beam high-speed internet to Africa.
The blast at Cape Canaveral -- though it caused no injuries -- marks a setback for the California-based private space firm and its founder, internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, who wants to revolutionize the launch industry by making rocket components reusable.
"Loss of Falcon vehicle today during propellant fill operation," Musk tweeted. "Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon."
Dramatic footage broadcast by ABC News showed the rocket burst into a roaring ball of flame amid what appeared to be a succession of blasts -- sending its payload tumbling to the ground as a dense plume of black smoke filled the air.
"At approximately 9:07 am ET (1307 GMT), during a standard pre-launch static fire test for the Amos-6 mission, there was an anomaly at SpaceX's Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 resulting in loss of the vehicle," the firm said.