SpaceX rocket explodes at launch site in Florida

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded Thursday on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida during a test, destroying it and its payload, the private space firm said.

“Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries,” SpaceX said in a statement.

A dense plume of black smoke filled the air following the blast, television images showed. The US space agency NASA said the incident took place shortly after 9 am (1300 GMT).

Later this year, SpaceX is expected to launch a satellite from Luxembourg firm SES on a flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket. It will be the first satellite launched by a used rocket.