An unmanned SpaceX rocket, minutes from lift-off at Cape Canaveral in Florida, exploded on the launch pad, destroying a multi million dollar internet satellite on Thursday. The satellite, due to launch on Saturday, was a joint project of Facebook and French internet provider Eutulsat Corporation. The satellite, called Amos 6, was owned by the Israeli satellite company Spacecom.

When reached for comment, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerburg later wrote that the satellite would have provided satellite access to regions in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. He added the companies involved would continue their attempts to provide internet access accross the globe.

SpaceX issued a statement saying that their were no injuries in the explosion, and that the balst, which was actually a series of four explosions, occurred at 9:07 a.m. The company described the explosion as an "anomoly" that occurred during the fueling of the rocket, and that the cause of the explosion was still unknown at the time.

The incident occurred on Launch Complex 40, an area leased to SpaceX by the Air Force. The company has successfully launched 25 missions from that sight since 2010, carrying supplies to the International Space Station, as well as satellites. Even before the explosion, and agreement had been reached to move future launches to another, nearby complex, Complex 39A, a complex that had previously been used for Space Shuttle launches. SpaceX had been working on upgrading that facility.

NASA's facilities at the complex were not affected by the blast. An Atlas V5 rocket was in place on nearby Complex 41, scheduled for launch next week. That rocket contains a probe that will land on an a neighboring asteroid and return a sample of that asteroid to earth for study.

SpaceX is a private company that is looking to change space flight, by changing the economics. It has developed re-usable rockets that land upright when returning to earth. So far its missions have been unmanned, but it recently won a NASA contract to carry American astronauts to the space station. It had to complete certification process, but expected to be receive flight readiness certification in time for manned flights to being in 2017.

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Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images

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