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SpaceX rocket explodes on launch pad

There were no injuries.

Image: AP Photo/Marcia Dunn

A ROCKET BELONGING to Elon Musk’s SpaceX company has exploded on a launch pad in Florida.

The rocket was at the Cape Canaveral site today ahead of a planned launch of an Israeli satellite on Saturday.

There have been no reports of any injuries, but the blast was large enough to shake buildings several miles away.

Nasa says that the company was test firing the unmanned rocket when the explosion occurred this afternoon.

SpaceX spokesman, John Taylor, said he could not comment as he worked to gather information.

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NASA — SpaceX’s major customer — said the explosion occurred at Launch Complex 40 at the Air Force station, and Kennedy emergency staff was on standby. At the same time, personnel were monitoring the air for any toxic fumes.

SpaceX is one of two companies shipping supplies to the space station for NASA. It’s also working on a crew capsule to ferry US astronauts; that first flight was supposed to come as early as next year.

The explosion is a setback for SpaceX. The California-based company, led by billionaire Elon Musk, had been ramping up with frequent launches to make up for a backlog created by a launch accident in June 2015. SpaceX was leasing the pad from the Air Force for its Falcon launches.

With AP reporting.

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