While billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX may indeed be the future of space flight, the venture isn't immune to the kinds of problems that have plagued NASA through the years. On Thursday morning this became dramatically clear when a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on a Cape Canaveral launchpad.
The fiery blast occurred as the rocket was fueling up for a flight intended to place a satellite owned by Facebook into orbit. The social media giant's new bird wasn't part of expanding the Mark Zuckerberg internet empire so much as it was an altruistic effort to bring internet service to remote areas that still have spotty connectivity.
No one was injured in the blast, but now a launch planned for Saturday from the Air Force station at Cape Canaveral has obviously been scrubbed.
As is probably evident in the video, it was an impressively powerful blast. Evan Zimny, an "ear"-witness who lives some five miles from the launch site, told the Los Angeles Times that he and his co-workers heard "what sounded like a huge thunder strike."
"The building and window shook rapidly and loudly," Zimny told the LAT, "and [that] lasted a couple of seconds."
Regarding Facebook's connectivity project, founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a post that while he was "deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX's launch failure destroyed our satellite," Facebook is still "committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided."
Regarding the explosion, Elon Musk tweeted the equivalent of a puzzled, verbal shrug about the incident:
Between them Zuckerberg and Musk could own their own planet. We're pretty sure they'll figure this thing out, eventually.