SpaceX explosion: Falcon 9 bursts into flame at launch

A HUGE explosion has been reported at SpaceX's launch facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Buildings several miles away were shook by the blast, and people nearby reported that multiple explosions continued for several minutes. After the explosion the sky was filled with dark smoke and sirens could be heard.

Nasa has said that the company was conducting routine testing of its Falcon 9 rocket when the explosion occured.

SpaceX had recently been testing one of those rockets, ahead of a launch later this week. It was one of the rockets that has been recycled after a successful drone barge landing - SpaceX hopes to be able to re-use such equipment for the first time ever, potentially vastly reducing the costs of space travel.

The rocket was supposed to carry an Israeli satellite up to space over the weekend.

It wasn't clear whether anyone was hurt in the blast - though launch pads are usually cleared before rockets are tested - and SpaceX officials haven't yet commented on the explosion.

Nasa said that it didn't have any detailed information on the explosion and that the agency was not involved.

At the time of the explosion, two astronauts were undertaking a space walk 250 miles above, outside the International Space Station. They were not immediately told about it by Mission Control.

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.

It isn't the first time that the private rocket launches have run into problems. Last year a Dragon rocket exploded soon after launch, causing delays and problems for the International Space Station among others - those had led the company to increase the rate of its launches in an attempt to clear the backlog.