SpaceX Explosion Set Backs Facebook’s Internet Expansion Plans In Africa
An explosion occurred at the launch site at Cape Canaveral in Florida, during the fueling of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday morning. The rocket that was destroyed was carrying the AMOS-6 communications satellite and the mission was commercial and not for NASA. On board was Facebook’s Internet.org satellite, which experts estimated cost $95 million.
SpaceX was conducting a fueling test on Launch Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral when the incident took place, an engineer at the Kennedy Space Center told ABC News.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the loss of the Falcon rocket today, “Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon.”
The satellite being carried by the rocket was to be used by Facebook (FB Tech30) to bring Internet access to Africa , Middle East and Europe. Facebook is in a partnership with a French satellite firm Eutelsat Communications. The satellite Amos 8 on board SpaceX was owned by Israeli company Spacecom.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on Facebook saying he was “deeply disappointed.” From Zuck’s post:
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. 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.
Brevard County Emergency Management Office speaking to ABC news said there were no injuries as a result of the explosions. The office tweeted “There is NO threat to the general public from catastrophic abort during static test fire at SpaceX launch pad at [Cape Canaveral] this morning.”
In a statement released by NASA on Thursday evening expressed confidence in the private space company with which it has contracts, saying, “we remain confident in our commercial partners,” but warning that “it’s too early to know whether the incident will affect the schedule for upcoming NASA-related SpaceX launches to the International Space Station.”