A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on its pad during a test Thursday morning at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Witnesses in the area reported feeling a shock wave in buildings several miles away and seeing a plume of smoke rising from Launch Complex 40 just after 9 a.m.
Officials at SpaceX, the Air Force's 45th Space Wing and Kennedy Space Center could not immediately confirm what happened or if there were any injuries.
The rocket was believed to be performing a test-firing of its nine Merlin main engines as a standard check of their readiness for launch, and so the area likely was cleared for that hazardous operation.
The rocket was scheduled to launch the Amos-6 communications satellite for Israeli company Spacecom at 3 a.m.
The condition of the satellite could not immediately be confirmed.
Facebook planned to use some of the satellite's capacity to expand its Internet.org initiative in Africa.
Brevard County Emergency Management Director Kimberly Prosser said the explosion took place on the launch pad at about 9:15 a.m.
“There are no hazards to the general public,” Prosser said.
“We’re monitoring the situation, but there have been no requests for assistance,” she said.
At the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce the explosion startled the staff.
“We were sitting here and all of a sudden it sounded like a sonic boom and the building started to shake,” said Denny Waktins of the chamber. “There were a couple of minor booms after that and then we went outside and saw the smoke plume. It was a well-defined plume, not like a controlled burn.”
NASA says SpaceX was conducting a test firing of its unmanned rocket when the blast occurred Thursday morning. pic.twitter.com/Bc7kNiq6E0— WESH 2 News (@WESH) September 1, 2016