Earlier today, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad for no apparent reason. While we’re still trying to learn more about what happened, we already know that the company was doing a test, and an anomaly created a big mess. Fortunately, all personnel were clear of the launch pad. But this incident is going to affect Facebook’s Internet.org effort in a significant way as a satellite was also destroyed in the process.
While insurance companies are going to pay out for today’s failure, the SpaceX rocket was supposed to launch an Eutelsat communication satellite called Amos-6. Among other things, this satellite was supposed to beam internet in large portions of Africa for Facebook
This kind of project takes years to put together — you can’t build a satellite overnight. And yet, the satellite was destroyed in a few minutes during the incident. It’s going to make the Internet.org rollout slower.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared a message on his Facebook account. And, as you can see, Zuck is not happy. Today’s explosion is probably a real bummer for him as well.
As he also notes, Facebook has other ideas when it comes to delivering internet in developing countries, such as giant drones (the Aquila project) or lasers. Now that basically everyone who has access to the internet also has a Facebook account, Facebook’s next frontier is connecting more people to the internet.
In the contract between Facebook and Eutelsat, Facebook can terminate the contract if the satellite isn’t operational by January 1st. It looks really unlikely now. So long, satellite dreams. Or maybe it’s time to start over and launch a new satellite?