There has been a huge setback to the proposed launch of Facebook’s first satellite as it was destroyed when a massive explosion rocked a SpaceX launch pad on Thursday (September 1, 2016) during a test for the weekend’s launch which was billed for today (September 3, 2016). This means bad news for Africa as the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket meant to launch the Facebook Internet Satellite to space which was targeted at delivering affordable high speed internet to users in Africa and other regions exploded at the NASA launch site in Florida taking the payload with it.
In its official statement about the mishap, SpaceX said
“At approximately 9:07am ET (1307 GMT), during a standard pre-launch static fire test for the Amos-6 mission, there was an anomaly at SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 resulting in loss of the vehicle,”
The Facebook founder and boss did say how disappointed he was to hear of the loss of the satellite “As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent,” he wrote.
“Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well. We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.” He also responded to a comment by one of his followers when he did ask “What’s insurance like on that type of thing?”, Mr Zuckerberg said that wasn’t the issue.
“The problem isn’t the money,” he wrote. “It’s that now it may take longer to connect people.”
The Facebook Internet Satellite, which was named ‘Amos 6’ satellite was built by Israeli company SpaceCom and was part of a collaboration between Facebook and French Satellite Operator, Eutelsat worth $95 million for a five-year lease on the satellite’s Ka-band communication array. The collaboration was aimed at delivering fast and affordable internet to most of Sub-Saharan Africa.
We will be hoping that this does not end the dream of internet.org and hopefully necessary measures will be taken to continue to move in the right direction.