Emergency services are racing to the scene after a SpaceX rocket exploded while on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.
Plumes of black smoke could be seen from several miles away shortly before 9am after fire broke out during a static test.
The multi-million dollar private American aerospace manufacturer company was set to launch a ‘recycled’ rocket this afternoon.
Nasa said space exploration and technologies firm SpaceX was conducting a test firing of its unmanned rocket when the blast occurred on Thursday morning (local time).
Witnesses said the blast shook buildings for miles around and multiple explosions continued for several minutes.
Additional details were not immediately available, but sirens could be heard in the aftermath as a cloud of dark smoke filled the overcast sky.
Twitter user 740kdev wrote: “just seen SpaceX Falcon 9 explode and pieces are falling all around me and I’m scared s***less…”
@GirlieToNerdy/TwitterThe Cape Canaveral explosion could be seen from miles away
SpaceX/twitterSpaceX tweeted this picture of a rocket earlier today
@ErinHead_HIM /TwitterThe explosion shook homes and buildings nearby
The rocket was supposed to launch an Israeli satellite this weekend.
Earlier today the company tweeted: “First launch of flight-proven first stage will use CRS-8 booster that delivered Dragon to Space_Station in April.”
The privately owned rocket blasted off from Florida in April to send a cargo ship to the International Space Station before turning around and landed itself back at the launch site.
2 explosions Cape Canaveral. “Catastrophic abort” SpaceX test. Smoke blowing NNE. No injures yet. @WFTV @WESH pic.twitter.com/WU265QCzkE
— Obnoxious Boston Fan (@realOBF) September 1, 2016
Video right after explosion at KSC @WFTV pic.twitter.com/hyLlGsYupg
— Martha Sugalski (@MarthaSugalski) September 1, 2016
The 23-story-tall Falcon 9 rocket, built and flown by billionaire Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX is based at from Cape Canaveral Air Force.
The Falcon 9 is hoped to be the future of space exploration allowing reusable rockets to be used.
First launch of flight-proven first stage will use CRS-8 booster that delivered Dragon to @Space_Station in April pic.twitter.com/UsqWeNBEK2
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 30, 2016
I hope everyone is OK at #SpaceX. pic.twitter.com/HFN5jiGDDf
— Ian Dawson (@PointyEndUp) September 1, 2016
It had been scheduled to launch on Saturday to deliver Facebook’s first satellite into orbit.
It was part of the social media’s site CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of bringing the internet to areas of Saharan Africa.
RexA SpaceX Falcon 9 RocketThe SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket being launched earlier this year
No injuries have been reported so far following the explosion around 9.30am today (local time).
The Falcon 9 is launched from Canaveral’s SLC-40 pad from where Titan III and Titan IV launched between 1965 and 2005.
SpaceX was founded in 2002 by former PayPal entrepreneur and Tesla Motors CEO Musk with the goal of creating the technologies to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonisation of Mars.
It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, both designed to be reusable, and the Dragon spacecraft which is flown into orbit by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle to supply the International Space Station with cargo.