UPDATE 11:34 EDT: Earlier today I wrote that CNN International (TV) was reporting that the payload was secure following the SpaceX explosion earlier today. This turned out to be false following comment by SpaceX.
“SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today’s static fire, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries,” SpaceX spokesman Phil Larson told NBC News in an email a couple of hours after the SpaceX explosion.
UPDATE 10:09 EDT: So far, no injuries have been reported and if indeed the SpaceX explosion occurred during a static fire test there should certainly not have had anyone anywhere near the launch pad. While SpaceX has yet to comment, CNN International is reporting that the Amos 6 satellite, a communications probe for the Israeli satellite operator Spacecom and intended payload for Saturday’s launch was not integrated into the test and should be just fine. Certainly, the SpaceX explosion will keep that satellite earthbound for some time, the companies can take some solace in the fact that the payload is intact.
Brevard County Emergency Management Director Kimberly Prosser told Florida Today the explosion happened at about 9:15 a.m.
“There are no hazards to the general public,” she said. “We’re monitoring the situation, but there have been no requests for assistance.”
The nature of spaceflight is such that the Kennedy Space Center is more than equipped to deal with incidents of this nature and, according to the Kennedy Space Center’s Emergency Operations Center spokesman Mike Curie the staff is prepared to help if needed.
Yesterday, we wrote at length about whether or not Tropical Storm Hermine would keep SpaceX from launching a communications satellite this weekend as scheduled. That seems to be quite the moot point right now as the SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket scheduled for that flight exploded during a static fire in the last hour. It’s common practice for SpaceX and others to fire the boosters while keeping the rocket in restraints and in place.
The SpaceX rocket exploded and could be heard from miles away according to many reports. SpaceX has yet to comment on the incident as of this writing and the state of the payload is unknown. What is certain is that a rocket that exploded is not good for SpaceX which is planning its first manned flight next year.