The BBC are reporting an explosion at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where SpaceX company was readying a rocket for launch.
The cause of the blast is not clear and it is not known if anyone was hurt. Nasa said SpaceX was test-firing a rocket which was due to take a satellite into space this weekend.
Pictures from the scene show a huge plume of smoke rising above the Cape Canaveral complex.
The force of the blast shook buildings several miles away.
SpaceX may be on the hook to compensate Space Communication Ltd. (Spacecom) for the satellite that was destroyed during the explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket — either with a free trip or $50 million, according to Reuters .
The construction, launch preparation and operation of the AMOS-6 satellite, which would have been used to "significantly expand the variety of communications services provided by Spacecom," reportedly cost the company more than $195 million. The officials from the company also noted that it could also collect upwards of $205 million from Israel Aircraft Industries, which built the satellite. SpaceX hasn't said what kind of insurance it purchased for the rocket, or what that insurance might pay for, Reuters reported. SpaceX wasn't immediately available for comment.
The failure of the launch may also kill a deal for Beijing Xinwei Technology Group to acquire Spacecom.
An executive from SpaceX's chief competitor, the United Launch Alliance (ULA), predicts that SpaceX won't conduct any more launches for the next 9 to 12 months, as it makes repairs and investigates the explosion of a Falcon 9 booster on Sept. 1:
"It typically takes nine to 12 months for people to return to flight. That's what the history is," Tory Bruno, chief executive of United Launch Alliance, told Reuters. [...] Bruno said the main issue after accidents involving space launches has "always been figuring out what went wrong on the rocket, being confident that you know ... how to fix it and then actually getting that fix in place." Repairing damage to the launch pad is usually not a significant issue, he said. "Historically, it had never been the pad that's taken the longest time," he said.
Bruno spoke with Reuters a few hours before ULA, a partnership of Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, was preparing to launch its 111th rocket, so far all successfully. An Atlas 5 rocket, carrying a NASA asteroid sample-return spacecraft, was poised for liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida about 1.2 miles (2 km) away from the SpaceX launch site.[*]
Bruno said he called SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell shortly after the accident to extend sympathies and offer help. "It's a small community and issues especially around safety - but even mission success - kind of transcend the competitive piece of this," Bruno added.
ULA and SpaceX are rivals for private space missions and launches by U.S. government agencies. Musk's company in May broke ULA's monopoly on flying U.S. military and national security satellites, winning an $83 million Air Force contract to launch a Global Positioning System satellite in 2018. The two firms are expected to square off over a second satellite launch services bid, which closes on Sept. 19.
[*] See SoylentNews coverage: OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission - Launch Successful -Ed.