MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on Thursday, September 1, on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida during a test, destroying it and its payload, the private space firm said.
"Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries," SpaceX said in a statement.
A dense plume of black smoke filled the air following the blast, television images showed. The US space agency NASA said the incident took place shortly after 9 am (1300 GMT).
A tweet from the Brevard Country Emergency Management Office added there was no threat to the general public "from catastrophic abort during static test fire at SpaceX launch pad at CCAFS this morning."
There is NO threat to general public from catastrophic abort during static test fire at SpaceX launch pad at CCAFS this morning. — Brevard EOC (@BrevardEOC) September 1, 2016
SpaceX, which is based in California, is headed by internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, who wants to revolutionize the launch industry by making rocket components reusable.
The company had successfully launched a Falcon 9 last month, sending a Japanese communications satellite into orbit and then landing the rocket on a floating drone ship. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com