The chairman of the Israel Space Agency, Prof. Yitzhak Ben Israel, confirms to the science website that the satellite was destroyed in an explosion.
During the preparation of the Falcon 9 launcher, on which the Amos 6 satellite was supposed to be launched on Saturday, an explosion was suddenly heard and smoke could be seen in the distance. The Chairman of the Israel Space Agency, Prof. Yitzhak Ben Israel confirmed in an interview with the science website that the satellite was indeed on the launcher at the time of the explosion and that it was destroyed.
According to Prof. Ben Israel, it is now necessary to help the space company out of the crisis, and hope that it can order a replacement satellite. In that case, the construction in the aerospace industry will take about two to three years. The service to Israeli users, especially Yes subscribers, will continue as usual as long as the Amos 2 satellite, which Amos 6 was supposed to replace, operates, even though it is at the end of its life.
Initial reports on Twitter stated that the Amos 6 satellite, which was supposed to be launched on Saturday from the rocket that exploded, had not yet been loaded onto the top of the rocket. However, its fate is still unknown because even if it was stored within 800 meters of the explosion it could be damaged. As mentioned, these reports were not true.
SpaceX is owned by the businessman Elon Musk, and which signed an agreement with NASA to send astronauts to the space station, based on the same technology it uses for unmanned flights, with necessary improvements.
CNN reports that the explosion occurred in launch pad 40 at the US Air Force base, which is used by SPACEX to launch supply spacecraft to the space station and communication satellites.
A spokeswoman for the nearby Kennedy Space Center referred the network to spokespeople for SpaceX, which has not yet responded. The spokesman for the military base said that it is not yet known if there were any casualties in the explosion.
As a reminder, on June 29, 2015, a little over a year ago, a launcher of this model exploded in the air two minutes and 19 seconds after launch from Cape Canaveral at 17:20 Israel time. The launcher was carrying a Dragon supply spacecraft to the International Space Station. The launcher disintegrated when it reached a speed of 4,300 km/h at an altitude of about 42 km above the Atlantic Ocean.
Six months later, in December of that year, the company again successfully launched this time 11 small communication satellites. It has since returned to launch at its previous rate, including a supply spacecraft to the space station in place of the one lost in the explosion.
The 2015 explosion was in the midst of a string of unmanned spacecraft launch failures, three of which involved supply spacecraft to the space station.
The company has another Israeli connection. The SpaceIL association signed a contract to launch the first Israeli spacecraft intended to land on the moon, as part of Google's Lunar X prize competition. The Israeli spacecraft will be launched into space on a Falcon-9 rocket of the private space company SpaceX, and the planned launch date is in about two years - the end of 2017. Last night a meeting of the competing teams took place at the Google House in Tel Aviv, and there the representatives of the competition reiterated the target date - December 31, 2017.
Space Communications, the owner of the satellite, is also in trouble. Last week it was announced that Space Communications is sold to the Chinese Xinwei Group just days before the Amos 6 launch. This is after November 2015 She lost the Amos 5 satellite in space , which was incidentally the only one of the Amos series satellites that was not built in Israel but in Russia. Although it received the insurance money, the loss affected its future sales ability, and it is being sold to the Chinese (if the deal is approved) at a price of 285 million dollars, barely the price of one satellite.
On the science website we will continue and follow the event.