On Thursday, a SpaceX rocket exploded at a launch site in Cape Canaveral, destroying a satellite Facebook Inc planned to launch into orbit on Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported. The satellite was a key component of the social networking company’s project to provide internet to more than one billion people in remote locations where implementing existing network technologies is challenging and costly. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he was “deeply disappointed” to hear about a rocket explosion that destroyed his company satellite.
Million Dollar Satellite
The satellite was destroyed in an explosion occurred during a prelaunch test. The satellite is joint project of Facebook and French satellite operator Eutelsat Communications.
The $62-million Falcon 9 rocket was designed and owned by Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies. A report from CNBC suggested that the rocket explosion had a negative impact on both Tesla and SolarCity shares. Share price of Tesla dropped by over 5% and SolarCity by 9.1% on Thursday.
The satellite was the first part of the social networking giant’s Internet.org project.
Talking about the satellite, telecom consultant Tim Farrar told The Wall Street Journal that “it’s a big, complicated satellite.” He estimated that it cost more than $200 million to build this satellite, which would have reached a few hundred thousand people in sub-Saharan Africa. “It takes hundreds of people at least two years to build,” the consultant said.
Setback to Facebook Free Internet Mission
Zuckerberg, who is in Africa, said in his post on Facebook that the “satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent.”
Internet.org was launched in 2013 by Facebook, spending about $1 billion on infrastructure. The rocket explosion that destroyed is a major setback to the company’s efforts to spread internet access to unconnected parts of the world. The satellite was capable of offering about 20 gigabits of data per second.
Zuckerberg noted in his latest Facebook post that “we remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.”
The social networking company formed the Connectivity Lab to provide Internet connectivity to as many as 1.6 billion people who have no access to mobile broadband networks. They are living in areas where it’s challenging and costly to use existing network technologies.
The Connectivity Lab is building new technologies — including aircraft, satellites, and wireless communications systems — to provide internet in remote locations around the world.
In June, Facebook successfully tested a solar-powered drone, called Aquila. The solar-powered airplane is designed to bring internet to around 4 billion people, 60% of the global population. Aquila can circle a region up to 60 miles in diameter, beaming connectivity down from an altitude of more than 60,000 feet using laser communications and millimeter wave systems. The aircraft is able to fly for up to three months at a time. The plane, however, the plane isn’t ready for the launch.
Facebook Inc is facing a criticism for its new algorithm behind Trending News. People are complaining about fake as well as offensive and inappropriate news.