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 fire 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.
Witnesses said the blast shook homes and 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…”
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.”
Earlier this year the privately owned rocket blasted off from Florida to send a cargo ship to the International Space Station before turning around and landed itself back at the launch site
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.