The following is an excerpt from William Harwood | September 1, 2016 | CBSNews.com |
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A fully-fueled SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket scheduled for launch Saturday exploded in a spectacular conflagration on the launch pad Thursday a few minutes before a planned main engine test firing. The booster was destroyed, along with its payload – a $195 million satellite that would have been used by Facebook – in a major setback for the California rocket builder.
Dramatic video posted by USLaunchReport.com showed the explosion starting toward the top of the rocket where the second stage is connected by umbilicals to a support gantry.
SpaceX founder and chief designer Elon Musk tweeted earlier that the explosion appeared to originate near the rocket’s second stage liquid oxygen tank. “Loss of Falcon vehicle today during propellant fill operation,” Musk said. “Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon.”
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