A major explosion of the SpaceX prelaunch test on Thursday has destroyed Facebook’s first satellite, dashing the hopes of providing the Internet to parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Mark Zuckerberg took to Facebook shortly after the explosion to say:
As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointment 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.
The satellite, AMOS-6, was a project of Facebook’s Internet.org program that aimed to deliver the Internet to the developing world.
Last October, Zuckerberg unveiled on Facebook their first project to deliver the Internet from space.
By partnering with Eutelsat, Facebook planned to launch a satellite into orbit that would connect millions of people to the Internet for free.
The AMOS-6 satellite is under construction now and will launch in 2016 into a geostationary orbit that will cover large parts of West, East and Southern Africa.
The $200 million satellite was intended to ride SpaceX’s Falcon 9 into orbit on Saturday.
Undeterred by Thursday’s setback, Zuckerberg mentioned additional developments the company has been working on to connect people to the Internet.
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.
What is Internet.Org?
Internet.org is a Facebook-led initiative that aims to bring access to the Internet and the benefits associated with it to the two-thirds of the world that don’t have access.
Through the Connectivity Lab at Facebook, they are developing affordable ways that mean anyone, anywhere in the world can access the Internet through technologies such as satellites, planes, and lasers.
One of the ways the company is achieving this is through the Aquila unmanned aircraft. Soaring above 60,000 feet it can stay airborne for months due to its enormous wingspan that allows it to float and its solar cells and efficient motors. With the Aquila, Internet access can be found in some of the remote places on earth.
Yes, the SpaceX explosion may have been a disappointment, but luckily other initiatives from Facebook are in place to ensure that the Internet is available to everyone. We may even hear about a new satellite in the not too distant future.
Featured image from Shutterstock.